News No. 106/2012, Friday, October 05, 2012
THE International Council of the Indigenous Peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (ICIP–CHT) has demanded an impartial inquiry into the 22 – 23 attacks on Jumma people in Rangamati.
The demand was made in a letter addressed to the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina on 2 October.
In the letter the ICIP-CHT president Dr Aditya Dewan expressed ‘deepest concern over the on-going communal attack on the indigenous peoples by the Bengali settlers in Rangamati and other areas of the CHT’ and urged her to use her ‘good offices to bear upon the Government of Bangladesh to protect the IPs from such attacks.’
Mr Dewan said, ‘In a string of attacks on the IPs in Rangamati that began on 22 September, at least forty indigenous students, one Pahari government physician, twelve Union Parishad chairpersons and two indigenous teachers of Rangamati College have sustained injuries. Bengali settlers indiscriminately attacked, vandalized and set fire on indigenous shops, houses and clinics. The office and the rest house of the CHT Regional Council did not escape from the onslaught of the attackers. Attacks were even carried out on the Paharis as far distant places as Longudu and the city of Chittagong.’
He further said that the attack in Rangamati on Jumma people was the latest in the recurring pattern of such violence that began in the late 1970s.
‘We are worried that this communal attack on the Paharis in the CHT will not be the last for the reason that the Government of Bangladesh have not addressed the structural roots of violence in the CHT.’ he said adding: ‘Of the structural causes, the most pressing is the settlement of Bengalis in the CHT with a clear political motive to uproot them from their own lands. And those Bengalis settlers organize such attacks from time to time to realize that objective.’
The ICIP-CHT chief put forward a five point demand which includes impartiality of the security forces in dealing with communal attacks on indigenous peoples, an impartial inquiry into the Rangamati communal attack and exemplary punishment to those responsible for it, appropriate compensation for the victims of the violence, full implementation of Accord and withdrawal of Bengali settlers from the CHT.