Probe violations of human rights
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Commission yesterday expressed grave concern over the violations of human rights of the indigenous people at Sajek in Rangamati and urged the government to investigate the incidents immediately.
"As you are aware, tension between indigenous peoples (Paharis), Bengali settlers and the army has been rising in Sajek for many years, and has reached particularly intense levels over the past year," the commission said in a letter to the prime minister.
The letter signed by CHT Commission Co-chairs Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Ida Nicolaisen was also sent to the CHT affairs ministry, Peace Accord Implementation Committee, Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT affairs ministry, home ministry and the National Human Rights Commission.
The commission urged the government to ensure that those found responsible for violations are arrested and prosecuted and that reparations are made to the victims for their security and safety.
"On April 20 last year, a group of settlers attacked several indigenous villages, injuring people and burning down more than 70 houses, with no effective intervention by the authorities and despite the presence of nearby army camps. Subsequently, many indigenous people fled the area and lived in hiding," said the letter.
"On August 19 the same year, Ladu Moni Chakma, aged 55, of Sajek, was killed. Although arrests have been made regarding the killing, no one has yet been charged either for the arson attacks or the killing," it added.
"On May 6 this year, two settlers -- Alkajjya and Mojibor -- were allegedly kidnapped from Sajek, and their bodies recovered from the same area four days later."
"It appears that six Pahari villagers were arrested on May 10 in connection with this incident, and since then, many Paharis have alleged continuing harassment by the army," the letter said.
"On July 2, 2009, a group of local Paharis held a press conference in Dhaka where they made a number of allegations concerning arrests, persecution and land occupation in Sajek."
"Following their return to their villages, they alleged that they were harassed by settlers and army personnel, and that two local people from Sajek had been arrested and questioned about the particulars of the participants of the press conference," the letter added.
"The failure to implement key provisions of the CHT Accord, including the return of land to the indigenous peoples and the withdrawal of temporary army camps from the area is a major contributory factor to such violations," the CHT Commission said.
To fully implement the CHT Accord of 1997, the commission urged the authorities to put an immediate end to all attacks against indigenous communities and individuals in CHT.