News No. 06/2016: Wednesday, January 06, 2016
THE year 2015 was marked by intense repression on the United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF) and its front organizations in the CHT, UPDF Human Rights Monitoring Cell noted, saying a total of 143 of its members and supporters were arrested while 35 of them were subjected to inhuman physical torture during the year.
Releasing data on human rights abuses to the media on 4 January, advocate Ripan Chakma, head of the UPDF-HRMC, stated that in 2015, a total of 102 houses and a Buddhist temple were searched, 33 Jumma women were subjected to rape or sexual assault and 13 settler attacks took place on Jumma people.
“Most of the arrests were made by the army, and among the arrested were also some school-going boys and girls,” he further said, adding that many UPDF activists were still languishing in jails in Khagrachari and Rangamati.
Ripan Chakma said democratic and fundamental rights were denied to the UPDF as its peaceful rallies and processions came under attack several times during the year.
“Even a festive procession on the occasion of the Boisabi festival was attacked in Khagrachari”, he added.
Referring to the land grabbing problem as most serious, Ripan Chakma said, “Grabbing of Jumma people’s land is a perennial issue which needs to be addressed as a priority.”
He said attempts at forcible occupation of Jumma people’s lands by Bengali settlers had often resulted in communal tension.
In the southern district of Bandarban, a village chief named Kyola-ching Marma, 45, was arrested because he dared to protest illegal land grabbing in Lama, Ripan Chakma stated.
To improve human rights situation in the CHT Ripan Chakma suggested six recommendations to the government. These include, among others, putting an end to political repression on UPDF, restoration of full democratic environment, release of UPDF members and supporters still detained in jail and bringing those involved in sexual abuses to justice.---------------