The whole world including Bangladesh is not yet free from the pandemic of COVID-19 virus. Although it is known that vaccines have been invented by different countries to cure the corona virus, the use of those vaccines or any medicine has not started yet. As a result, the risk and panic of corona virus infection has not yet been eliminated or the chances of getting rid of it soon are poor. But still people have to go to work, to various production activities and to the market in order to earn a living. Especially the marginalized Jumma people in the hills have no chance to stay at home. On the other hand, due to the difficult political situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and the anti-Accord and the anti-Jumma activities of the government and the state, the indigenous Jumma people are in a difficult situation where they cannot stay at home or cannot go outside the CHT. The normal life of the Jumma people seems to have become suffocating due to various political, economic, social, cultural and governmental and non-governmental developmental activities in the CHT and the constant interference of the government and state forces in the general lifestyle of the Jumma people.

Although the CHT Accord was signed in 1997 to resolve the CHT problem through political and peaceful means, the government has now completely stopped the implementation process of the Accord and continues to play the opposite role. For the past 23 years, the government has not implemented the basic provisions of the Accord, and what the government has implemented that has been used against the spirits of the Accord and against the interests of the Jumma people. The government has been completely disregarding and ignoring the CHT Regional Council, the apex body in the special administration system of CHT introduced as per the Accord, and has been conspiring to destroy the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), one of the signatory parties of the Accord, in a fascist manner. In fact, instead of resolving the CHT problem politically and peacefully, the government has resorted to so-called solution by using force and mobilizing state forces, including the army, and using military repression and suppression. As a result, conspiracies against the Accord of the government and state forces, violation of human rights of the Jumma people and turning the CHT into a Muslim inhabited region have become much more horrible and violent to the Jumma people of the CHT than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared to the previous month, the activities, torture and oppression of the army have increased in August 2020. In fact, the gravity of military rule in the CHT is increasing day by day. At the same time, the control, authority and vigilance of the military and various intelligence agencies over the various media outlets and the freedom of speech and expression of the people have increased alarmingly. As a result, the news of the brutality and repression of the military rule in the CHT did not come up in any media.

In August 2020, the army detained at least 30 Jumma people including students and the elderly persons in CHT, and 8 persons out of 30 detainees were sent to jail entangling in various cases and rest 22 persons were released after harassing and torturing in the camps. In addition, the surrounding of Buddhist monasteries during religious ceremonies, torture and intimidation of 9 people in various ways, army operations in villages, support and shelter to Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) armed terrorists by the army including searching of 16 houses, including military activities have increased greatly. In addition, harassment of ordinary Jumma people in the name of search at the existing checkposts has increased and new checkposts are being set up.

Not only that, in August 2020 the army and BGB authorities in Baghaichhari stopped UNDP’s rice distribution program among the poor as incentives of corona pandemic in Baghaichhari on the pretext of giving more relief to the Jumma people than the Bengali settlers. Besides, there were incidents of closure of a shop belonging to Jumma people in Sajek of Baghaichhari by the army and demolition of 20 shops of temporary market in Panchhari upazila of Khagrachhari and obstruction of selling and purchasing the commodities at temporary marker in Logang by the BGB.

On the other hand, 2 people were killed, 01 was injured and 2 were abducted and ransomed, 2 were threatened and 1 motorcycle was snatched in the attacks of the army-backed Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists and in the gunfight among them. As in the past, people have to pay a large amount of money on any pretext at any time including paying a certain amount of money from the people every month to army-backed groups. The army and the DGFI are not only harboring and aiding these Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists, but at various times the army is openly using them in raids on Jumma villages and houses.

At the end of August 2020, a Tripura widow (25) was allegedly gang-raped by 6 Bengali settlers in Lama of Bandarban and an 8th grade Marma girl (14) was gang-raped by 4 settler youths in Mahalchhari of Khagrachhari district.

Even in the 23 years of the CHT Accord, the non-implementation of the CHT Land Commission Act and the non-resolution of land disputes in CHT have led to an increase in attempts by outsider Muslim settler to occupy the land of Jumma people afresh. In addition, in the recent past, in the three hill districts, indiscriminate deforestation, hill cutting, extraction of natural sand and stones, etc., have been intensified by various government and non-government companies and individuals. In August 2020, Bengali settlers erected a house forcibly occupying the land of a Jumma villager at Bhushanchhara in Barkal and tried to occupy the Jumma people’s recorded land at Bagachatar area in Longadu of Rangamati.

On the other hand, threatening to burn down houses of three Mro villages for eviction them from their ancestral villages by various rubber companies including Lama Rubber Industries and Meridian Company in Sorai Union of Lama Upazila of Bandarban; grabbing of Para Bon (Village Common Forest) of remote Mro villages of Daluchari of Gajalia union of Lama upazila and taking away of Gorjan trees of the VCF etc. have been reported. Besides, a Jumma person named Bimung Marma (50) was killed in Baishari union of Naikhyongchhari upazila of Bandarban. Locals alleged that the killings were carried out by outsider land grabbers.

Attachment: Incidents in August 2020

A. Repression by security forces

In August 2020, there have been incidents of 35 people being arrested, detained and beaten by the army, 16 houses searched, 01 Buddhist monastery besieged and 7 people harassed and threatened.

❶ On 3 August 2020, a joint force from Rangamati’s Rajmoni Para Camp and Subalong Camp surrounded a Buddhist monastery during a religious ceremony in the Kaindya area of ​​Balukhali in Rangamati Sadar Upazila, interrogated the people and searched a shop belonging to Jumma people. During this time, the army interrogated and harassed 4 persons, namely, Sanchay Chakma (58), elected member of Ward No. 4 of Balukhali Union; 2. Rahim Badsha Tanchangya (62) of Kaindya Tanchangya Para, he is a Karbai; 3. Gandhi Lal Karbari (55) of Dojari Para; 4. Prem Lal Karbari (45) of Egajyachhari. Besides, cash box and other items in a shop of Mangal Ranjan Chakma have been looted.

❷ On 5 August 2020, a group of army from Baradam Deppochari Army Camp in Mogban Union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila picked up Sonadhan Chakma (22), a resident of Moroghona village, from his own house. Sonadhan Chakma is an innocent shopkeeper in the area of the Smriti Mandir in Moroghona. On the other hand, on 6 August 2020, the army of Baradam Deppochhari army camp also picked up Chikko Chakma (45) from his own house in Deppochhari. Chikko Chakma is a tea shopkeeper and is known to run his family by selling tea. Sonadhan Chakma and Chikko Chakma, who were detained at Rangamati Zone Headquarters, were released on 8 August 2020 after much harassment.

❸ On 6 August 2020, an innocent Jumma carpenter named Birojit Chakma (26) was apprehended by an army-backed Reformist armed terrorist in Jibtali Union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila and handed over to the Gabaghona Army Camp. He was detained in the camp for 7 days and tortured and released on 15 August 2020.

❹ On 8 August 2020, the Army and DGFI illegally personnel searched the house of two tenants in the house of Bina Dewan, a Jumma employee of West Tribal Adam in Rangamati town. During the search, the army and DGFI personnel ransacked the beds, furniture, clothes, etc. of the house. Army also check the call lists of family members’ mobile phones and take pictures of everyone in the family.

❺ On 8 August 2020, the finance secretary of the Chitmorong Union Committee of PCJSS pf Kaptai Upazila of Rangamati district, Mongnuching Marma (56) and Athowaimang Marma (32), a resident of Chakkua Para, went to the Chitmorong market to sell bananas. At least four innocent villagers have so far been detained and harassed by the army after a new camp called ‘Chitmorong Camp’ was set up in Chitmorong Union, occupying 5.0 acres of land for three people.

❻ On 9 August 2020, a group of army led by Lt. Mahabub, the commander of the new army camp at Mitingyachhari Para under the Kaptai Army Zone of the 23rd Bengal Regiment of Kaptai Upazila in Rangamati District, arrested an innocent Jumma named Rupayan Chakma (45) and detained him in the camp. He was injured due to torture in the camp. The victim was identified as Rupayan Chakma, a Jum farmer and village tea shopkeeper by profession and his home is in Jumia Rehabilitation village of Tinchhari of Raikhali Union.

❼ On 9 August 2020, on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the army, police and BGB prevented a human chain program in Kukimara area of ​​Wagga Union in Kaptai of Rangamati district. They forbid human chain at first. Then they started abusing in inaudible language with the organizers.

❽ On 12 August 2020, a group of army searched the houses of two Jumma villagers in Shuknochhara village of Sajek union in Baghaichhari upazila of Rangamati district. The two families searched were Indra Chakma and Liton Chakma. However, the army did not find anything during the search and returned to the camp.

❾ On 13 August 2020, the army arrested 4 Jumma people for falsely implicating killing of a Muslim doctor in Matiranga of Khagrachhari district. The arrested are Deni Tripura (22), Sumon Tripura (20), Dipan Tripura and Shanti Tripura (28) of Guimara Union of Guimara Upazila. It may be mentioned that on 24 July, unidentified persons killed Nur Mohammad Tipu and left him under the Sapmara Bridge in Matiranga Upazila.

❿ On 14 August 2020, the army detained 8 Jumma villagers in Raikhali union of Kaptai upazila of Rangamati district, beaten up 5 of them and fired two rounds of blank shots to create panic in the village. The detainees are- 1. Mongthowaiching Marma (45), 2. Athui Marma (14), 3. Kaladhan Chakma (35), 4. Baitya Chakma (65), 5. Anthoyau Karbari (60), 6. Sachindra Tanchangya (55), 7. Uchingmong Marma (35), 8. Suithowaiching Marma (35). After being detained for one night, the zone commander of Kaptai zone came the next day and released the detainees. On the other hand, the women who were beaten are- 1. Chinkra Marma (60), 2. Wangsang Marma, 3. Meneo Marma (30), 4. Ukraching Marma (32) and 5. Masuching Marma (55).

❶❶ On 16 August 2020, two Jumma people were detained by the army at Manikchhari in Khagrachhari. The detainees are Samendra Tripura alias Sudipta (35) of Sukanta Mahajan Para of Sindukchhari in Guimara and motorcycle driver Momongshi Marma (30) of Tilapara of Kalapani in Guimara. The next day, on 17 August, Samendra Tripura was sent to Khagrachhari District Jail on a false charge.

❶❷ On 17 August 2020, a group of army led by Captain Rezaul of Sublang Army Camp (20 Bengal) in Subalong Union of Barkal Upazila of Rangamati searched the houses of 7 innocent Jumma villagers in Ward No. 5 and 6 of Subalong Union in the name of looking for terrorists. The families of the victims are- 1. Promod Chakma (28), 2. Uttam Chakma (36), 3. Patanga Chakma (60), 4. Arun Chakma (42), 5. Kiran Chakma (25), 6. Bimal Chakma (48), 6. Chandra Sen Chakma (60) and 7. Binimoy Chakma (42). At that time, the army ransacked the belongings of the house and harassed the people of the house by questioning them unnecessarily.

❶❸ On 19 August 2020, the army of Ghilachhari camp in Ghilachhari union of Nanyachar upazila of Rangamati arrested 10 Jumma school and college students from Ghilachhari high school ground and took them to the camp and beaten up them inhumanely. After about three hours of interrogation, beatings and threats, they were released at around 6:30 pm. The names of 9 out of 10 students are- Sujal Chakma, Parantu Chakma, Tapan Chakma, Bitu Chakma, Arjan Chakma, Tapen Chakma, Joseph Chakma, Bilton Chakma and Ranju Chakma.

❶❹ On 19 August 2020, in the name of searching for terrorists in the village of Baghachola in the Subalong area of ​​Barkal in Rangamati district, the army and their supported Reformist terrorists carried out a joint search operation at the Subalong Bazar army camp. The 3 houses vandalized during the search are- 1. Kamanashish Talukdar alias Babu (42), 2. Pratik Talukdar (36) and 3. Joy Chakma (36).

❶❺ 21 August 2020 Humayun Kabir, Commander of 12 Bir of Baghaihat Army Zone, Lt. Col. Al Hakim Md. Nowshad, Commander of Baghaihat 54 BGB Zone and Lt. Col. Md. Anowar Bhuiyan stopped the distribution of the UNDP’s rice allotted for corona pandemic in Sajek union of Baghaichari upazila. The Awami League and the army authorities complained that 60% of the beneficiaries of the rice distribution were indigenous Jumma people and shut down UNDP’s rice distribution activities labeling it as communal.

❶❻ On 23 August 2020, a group of army led by FI Mohammad Atiq of Baghaihat Army Zone conducted a harassing search at the tea shop of Babu Chakma (20) in Hazachhara village of Sajek Union of Baghaichhari Upazila of Rangamati District. Later, army locked and closed Babu Chakma’s shop. Babu Chakma is an ordinary Jum farmer. In addition to Jum cultivation, he runs this tea shop in the village.

❶❼ ON 26 August 2020 a group of BGB members led by Lt. Colonel Md. Rubayes Alam, Commander of BGB Panchhari Zone, raided a temporary market in Taraban Church area of ​​Chengi Union and vandalized 15-20 shops of Jumma people. Due to the outbreak of corona virus, the locals temporarily set up this market.

❶❽ On 29 August 2020, BGB from Logang BOP, Dhudhukchhara BOP camp and police from Panchhari police station prevented people from entering the temporary market in Baburo Para area of ​​Logang union in Panchhari upazila of Khagrachhari and tried to send back them to the home. However, when people protested, they were allowed to buy and sell for a short time. On the other hand, it has been alleged that traders from Panchhari and Pujgang areas were prevented from entering the temporary market in Baburo Para by keeping them stuck at the Logang BGB check post.

B. Activities of army-backed armed groups

In August 2020, army-backed Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists killed two people, injured one, abducted two and demanded ransom, threatened two persons and snatched a motorcycle.

❶ On 31 July 2020, army-backed Reformist terrorists abducted an innocent villager named Shashanka Dhamai (73) of Bailyachhari village in Guimara union of Guimara upazila under Khagrachhari district and held him for about four hours. On 01 August 2020, the Reformists threatened to face dire consequences if he did not follow their instructions, while he along with vilage elders went to meet them at the office of the Reformists at the Matiranga headquarters.

❷ On 2 August 2020, army-backed Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists abducted a person from the Dighinala bus terminal in Khagrachhari and released him on August 3, the next day, in exchange for a ransom of Tk 50,000. The abductee was identified as Meran Tripura, 32, of Hazachara village in Baghaihat of Sajek union.

❸ On 4 July 2020, Reformist and UPDF-Democratic terrorists harassed and threatened an innocent Jumma named Jurosen Chakma, 65, a resident of Chhota Kangara Heiya area in Merung Union of Dighinala of Khagrachhari district. At one point, one of the leaders of the terrorists, Fighter Chakma snatched Jurosen Chakma’s mobile phone and SIM card.

❹ On 6 August 2020, army-backed Reformist terrorists stopped a trawler at their checkpoint in Jibtali in Rangamati Sadar Upazila and detained Birojit Chakma (26), a carpenter and a resident of the neighboring village of Panchhari. At the same time, the terrorists snatched Birojit Chakma’s mobile phone. On the same night, the Reformist terrorists handed over Birojit Chakma to the local Gabaghona army camp.

❺ On 7 August 2020, army-backed UPDF (Democratic) and Reformist terrorists shot dead an innocent villager named Arun Bikash Chakma, Chairman Para of Jibatali Union in Rangamati Sadar Upazila. The body of the deceased was drowned in the waters of Kaptai Lake.

❻ On 8 August 2020, army-backed UPDF (Democratic) and Reformist terrorists closed Amal Chakma’s shop in Jibtali of Rangamati sadar upazila.

❼ On 15 August 2020, shootings took place in the base (hideout) of army-backed Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists located at Babuchara Bazar area of ​​Dighinala upazila in Khagrachhari. Abdul Malek’s wife Morsheda Begum (45) was shot dead and her son Md Ahad (10) was injured.

❽ On 21 August 2020, army-backed Reformist terrorists snatched the motorcycle of a Jumma villager named Sureshwar Chakma (18) and demanded Tk. 01 lakh in Dighinala upazila of Khagrachhari district. Sureshwar Chakma’s home is in Nangalmara village of Baghaihat in Sajek union.

C. Violence against Indigenous women and children

❶ On 30 August 2020, a 25-year-old widow of Tripura community has been allegedly gang-raped by 6 Muslim people, with the help of her boyfriend in Lama of Bandarban. Not only that, at that time the miscreants also snatched 30,000 takas from the victim. The incident took place at around 1:00 pm on that near the garden of a Clipton group in Purbachambi area of ​​Ward No. 9 of Aziznagar Union of the upazila. The girl’s house is in Milanchari area of ​​Bandarban.

❷ On 31 August 2020, a Marma girl (14), an eighth-grade student, was gang-raped by four Bengali settler youths in Mahalchhari of Khagrachhari district overnight. On that day at around 5:00 pm, 4 young men of settlers led by Al Amin (24), a resident of Tilapara in Mahalchhari Sadar Union of Mahalchhari Upazila, found the girl alone and forcibly took her away on a motorcycle. They then took her to a secret place near the Mahendra Vehicle Station near Tilapara and gang-raped her overnight and left her there.

D. Land grabbing by Muslim settlers and outsider companies

Bhushanchhara:  In Bhusanchhara of Barkal in Rangamati district, a Bengali settler forcibly occupied the land of a Jumma villager and built a house. It is learnt that on 4 August 2020, a group of Bengali settlers named Md. Sahidul from Kalabanya Settler area of ​​Aimachhara Union of Barkal Upazila built a house in Suparipata village of Bhushanchhara Union occupying land of Joykumar Chakma (53). Although the victim Joyakumar Chakma sought legal help from the police in this regard, it is learnt that the police is playing a silent role.

Lama: Various rubber companies including Lama Rubber Industries and Meridian Company in Sorai Union of Lama Upazila in Bandarban have threatened to burn down houses of three villages of Mro people for the purpose of occupying their land. Mro villagers are being threatened with lawsuits, arrests and torture if the families are not evicted. It is to be mentioned that Mro people have been living in Dhenkichhara area of ​​Doluchhari mouza of Sorai union for generations. Two years ago, out of 48 families, 14 families moved to Dhenkichhara Noya Para due to harassment and threats from rubber companies. And 16 families have been living in Dhenkichhara Noya Para for several years. In Lama Upazila, several rubber companies have jointly occupied the lands and gardens of Mro people. Among them, Lama Rubber Industries has acquired 1,600 acres, Meridian Company 3,000 acres and Lama Quantum Cosmo School 3,500 acres in Lama Upazila. Due to their obstruction, harassment and threats, the villagers are not able to do anything like Jum farming, gardening, building houses.

Lama: The land of ‘Parabon’ (Village Common Forest) in the remote Kalu Mro Para of Daluchhari Mouza in Gajalia Union of Lama Upazila of Bandarban is being occupied and bamboo and trees of VCF are being cut down from there. They are not getting redress even though the matter has been taken to the local public representatives and law enforcement agencies to justice. The villagers lodged a written complaint with the local Union Parishad and Upazila Parishad chairman. But these public representatives are working for the forest destroyers instead of helping to the Mro people. In the meantime, about 6,000 bamboos and about 40 big Gorjan trees have been cut down from the Parabon. The main culprit of the destruction of the Parabon were the businessman Md. Yunus, Belal, Md. Elias etc. Suikyacha Marma, the son of Hlathui Mong Marma, the headman of the mouza, is also involved in their collaboration.

Longadu: Despite the recent ban by the upazila administration, two sons of Majnu Sarkar, a Muslim settler from Rangipara, Md. Abdullah and Md. Al Amin illegally built houses on Nabinchan Chakma’s land at Bagachatar area of ​​ Longadu of Rangamati district. When Nabinchan Chakma informed the administration about the matter, the administration ordered the removal of the illegally constructed house by 20 August 2020. But the Bengali settlers did not remove the house and filed a case in the Rangamati District Judge’s Court against Nabinchan Chakma and his successor Devendra Chakma.

However, on 25 August 2020, Assistant Commissioner (Land) Kyawthwaiprue Marma, Surveyor Md. Khorshed Alam along with the police went to the spot and removed the illegally constructed house and arrested Md. Abdullah and Md. Al Amin. After the same day, the police released them on bail, taking promise of settler to withdraw the case filed against Nabinchan Chakma and Debendra Chakma, saying that they would not do anything that would disrupt the harmony, including the construction of any other facility in the disputed land.

E. Murder of a Marma in Naikhyongchhari

On 25 August 2020, the police have recovered the body of a Jumma villager named Bimung Marma (50) from the slope of a hill adjacent to Kiu Marma’s Akashmoni Garden in Ward No. 2 of Baishari Union in Naikhyongchhari Upazila of Bandarban. It is learnt that on the morning of 23 August, Bimung Marma went to buy pigs at Tri-Deba Mro Para in Fasiakhali Union of Lama Upazila with the help of a rented motorbike of Uchinthowai Marma, a resident of Athuimong Para. Son of the slain Bimung Marma alleged that his father had been killed in a premeditated manner. Locals suspected that the settlers and Rohingyas may have killed Bimung Marma for the purpose of occupying the land at the behest of outsider leaseholders. Earlier, several people, including a Buddhist monk, were killed in the area by Rohingyas and armed settlers (alleged robbers).

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This report has been published and circulated by Information and Publicity Department of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS) from its Central Office, Kalyanpur, Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts.