Dear Hill People,
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) extends heartfelt good wishes and congratulation to all the hill residents including the Jumma people as it falls 25th Anniversary – the Silver Jubilee of historic Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
This day marks the historic event of signing Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord between the Bangladesh government and PCJSS, on behalf of the permanent residents of CHT, with an aim at resolving the longstanding CHT problem by political and peaceful means, twenty-five years back. The Accord that is regarded as the charter of rights of the Jumma and Bengali permanent residents, as though, completes its twenty-five years, the Accord has not yet been implemented properly and fully. Consequently, the desired political and peaceful solution to the CHT crisis has not yet been achieved.
As a result of the Accord that was achieved through bloody struggle, the permanent residents of Jumma and Bengali people of CHT who cherished for a political and peaceful solution to the CHT crisis, the Accord that was widely adored globally, the international entity like UNESCO that awarded Sheikh Hasina with Peace Prize – all those hope, confidence, expectation, acceptance and international award are all set to get faded due to not having the Accord implemented.
The ever-neglected and deprived Jumma people had a hope that with the Accord their historical right to self-rule that had been robbed would be re-established. It was in light of that special context of CHT, there would be introduced a special administrative system incorporating the CHT Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils under which the subjects that would be devolved to the councils include: general administration, law & order, police, land & land management, agriculture, health, education, tourism, forest & environment including all development programs and with this, the CHT people would attain the right to determine their own development. Many in the civic society had assumed that Bangladesh would have established an administrative illustration of a role model in the share of power decentralization by introducing the special administration system in CHT.
But it is highly regrettable that even after 25 years of signing the Accord, the administrative right that had been robbed from the Jumma people as well as all the permanent residents of CHT has not yet been attained. The rights relating to self-governance, law & order, lands, economic and development have not been handed over to the hill residents, as of today. Though the Regional Council and Hill District Councils were formed but it is due to non-devolvement of powers and functions in accordance with the Accord and laws framed as per the Accord, all those councils so formed have now become dysfunctional institutions of nomenclature.
Needless to reiterate that since the independence of the country, CHT has been being flattened under the steam roller of military reign for the decades together. It is through signing of the Accord, the humanitarian and democracy-loving people of all strata including the Jumma people were in the hope that democratic governance would be established in the hills bringing an end to the fascist rule. With a great hope, they were in anticipation that the rule of law will gradually be established in the hills on the basis of fundamental rights. The prolonged bloody conflict in CHT would get ended. The Jumma people would be no more under the process of becoming prey to the extra-judicial oppression and suppression, unlawful arrest, jailing, tyranny, killing, harassment and violence. Alike the citizens of other parts of the country, the Jumma people would also enjoy security to life and property. But unfortunately, such democratic governance and secured life free from unjust and injustice have remained unattainable as yet.
Dear Jumma people,
The hill residents cherished a hope that the distinct Jumma-inhabited feature of CHT, which was in existence from the time immemorial, would be preserved through the historic Accord. The national identity, culture, language, custom, practices, etc. of the Jumma people would be promoted and preserved. Through it, the diverse feature of multi-races, multi-cultures and multi-languages that Bangladesh possesses, would be stronger and would get strengthened. But instead of going for proper and full implementation of the Accord, rather, as a result of continued violation and crippling of the Accord by the ruling class, the Jumma-inhabited feature of CHT including the national entity of Jumma people and existence of their birthland is about to get abolished, today. During tenure of the present Awami League government, one of the Accord signatory parties, it is due to bringing an amendment to the constitution stating: “the people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation” – a manifestation of Bengali national chauvinism, which poses serious threat to the very national identity and existence of more than country’s 54 ethnic groups of indigenous communities including the Jumma people of CHT.
One of the issues that comprises the CHT crisis contains illegal land occupation and illegal infiltration of outsiders. It was expected that the longstanding land disputes arising out of illegal occupation by various government agencies and the settlers would have been settled down through signing of the Accord and by returning the lands to the actual owners of the Jumma people. Alongside, the India-returnee Jumma refugees and internally displaced Jumma families would also be returned back their lands and rehabilitated them in their respective lands properly and that they would be able to put an end to their daily life deprived of citizen facilities including education and healthcare. At the same time, the accursed livelihood solely relying on government-supplied ration being led by the settlers who fell prey to the state-deliberate conspiracy, would then be concluded and with this, their appropriate rehabilitation outside CHT with dignity would thereby be ensured. All this would prompt ever closure of the heinous state conspiracy of population transfer to CHT as well as illegal infiltration in masses.
Needless to say, the Jumma people have not yet been returned their illegally dispossessed lands due to non-implementation of the Accord. Consequently, the India-returnee refugees and internally displaced families are being obliged to pass diaspora-life even though staying in their own country as of date. Alongside, centering the land disputes, no stop has been put to the communal and violent activities including state-sponsored communal attacks by settlers upon the Jumma people, arson in their houses, illegal land occupation and forcible eviction, abducting and raping women, etc. Rather, the frequency of such heinous acts of ethnic cleansing are getting escalated.
It is highly worthy to be noted that the government has not only confined itself within the programs counter-productive to the Accord and interest of the Jumma people but has also stepped out with draconian measures that include: colonial ‘divide & rule’ policy based on which the government, in association with the army, having organized one after another armed terrorist groups in league with the opportunist and ambitious persons from among the Jumma communities, incited those groups against the movement for implementation of the Accord as to ascertain right to self-determination, by deploying those elements with arms at different locations in the broad day light. To foil the implementation process of the Accord and Jumma people’s movement for self-determination, after positioning the Prasit-led UPDF, JSS (M.N. Larma), also known as Reformists, UPDF (Democratic), MNP, also known as Mog Party and the last one that has been recently organized and brought to the field is Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), known as ‘Bawm Party’ to strengthen the reign of terror under the safe-coverage of certain quarter of the government.
From among the terrorist groups, the Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorist groups have been deployed at Mahalchari, Panchari, Dighinala of Khagrachari district, Subalong of Barkal, Jibtali of Rangamati Sadar Upazila under Rangamati district and at Balaghata and municipality areas of Bandarban district while the Mog Party terrorists at Powaitu Para of Rajasthali under Rangamati district and the Bawm Party at Sippi Pahar of Rowangchari and Remakri Prangsa areas of Ruma – all have been deployed with arms and are being provided safe coverage and support in carrying out their terrorist missions in their respective areas. Thus, under the government sponsorship, at one end, the army has been creating a formidable situation among the masses by feeding and using these terrorist elements while carrying out suppressive campaigns upon the innocent Jumma people and the PCJSS activists in the name of squishing the terrorists and holding the PCJSS responsible for all such terrorist activities.
As part of evil activities, on 26 May 2022, Major General Saiful Abedin, GoC of 24 Infantry Division of Chittagong, while delivering speech during the inaugural ceremony of APBN Regional Office in Rangamati, called upon the right-loving Jumma people at war and gave threatening of destroying them within 30 minutes. The present government has not limited its to creation of armed terrorists, it has been carrying out ill-designs counter to the Accord and interest of the Jumma people by providing support to the opportunists, power-hungers and stooges involved in national political parties including the ruling Awami League.
In practice, the government, in place of resolving the CHT crisis through political and peaceful means, has been executing its blue print of ethnic cleansing by making use of all possible means. As a segment of the design, the development programs are also used as an effective tool of ethnic cleansing to evict the Jumma people from their traditional lands, break the economic backbone, destroy the biodiversity and environment of the area. From among the development programs that ensure cultural destruction of the Jumma people and unfriendly to the environment include: declaration of reserve forest, giving the traditional Jum-farming lands and Mouza lands of the Jumma people in lease to the outsiders, installation of tourism centers, construction of roads including border roads and link roads, establishment of security force’s camps and their expansion, exploration of gas and oil, etc.
Dear revolutionary Jumma people,
Note-worthy to be mentioned that the right-loving Jumma people of CHT possess a glorious history of struggle. Whatsoever be the gravity of conspiracy hatched by the communal and fascist ruling class of the country can never be able to repel the Jumma people’s current movement for implementation of CHT Accord and thereby realization of right to self-determination. Towards the end of Eighteenth century, the Jumma people had offered resistance against the British colonialism and frustrated the British forces in the war of resistance for the decade. Later on, the colonial authority, for sake of their colonial interest, had though granted recognition to some extent on self-rule government, customary and land rights to the Jumma people, there had been merciless colonial oppression and suppression in force. Hence, since the beginning of twentieth century, one conscious section of the Jumma people had been in an attempt to organize themselves against the British colonial rulers and exploiters by organizing various political and social organizations.
Afterward, the Jumma people had strived to offer resistance against repeated conspiracy of the ruling class of Islamic state of Pakistan, which had a mean objective to turn the non-Muslim-dominated CHT into a Muslim-dominated region and thereby to abolish the national entity of the Jumma people and the existence of their birth land. The educated and patriotic youth society of the Jumma people demonstrated vehement protest against the Kaptai dam, the death-trap, under leadership of Manabendra Narayan Larma, the then student leader and pioneer of the Jumma National renaissance.
Keeping shoulder to shoulder with the Bengali people, the Jumma people had directly participated in the bloody liberation war in 1971 against the national and colonial rule and exploitation of Pakistani ruling class, in the hope and confidence that the existent unjustness and injustice that had been being continued with the Jumma people for the centuries would get ended for ever on the spirit of equal right and status for which the liberation war was fought and the Jumma people would get back their robbed administrative right. Hence, in 1972, during framing up of the first constitution of Bangladesh, the Jumma people under leadership of M N Larma placed a demand for Regional Autonomy and recognition to the national entity.
But regretfully, the ruling class of Bangladesh who broke the chain of under-dominance and attained independence through struggle, had rejected the justified demand of the Jumma people with abhorrence and threatened M N Larma, the undisputed Jumma leader, with transfer of lakhs of Bengalee population in CHT.
During the irresistible armed struggle, as a result of price-less self-sacrifice of the patriotic revolutionaries and immeasurable sacrifice and longing of revolutionary Jumma people, after a series of negotiated dialogues respectively with the successive governments of Ershad, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, the historic CHT Accord, which is regarded as the Charter of Rights of the permanent residents of Jumma-Bengalee peoples on 2 December 1997. But unfortunately, the Hasina-led Awami League government, despite having entered upon the Accord in recognition to the political, administrative, law & order, economic, social, cultural and land rights, alike its predecessors, has not yet been able to come out from the stand of ultra-nationalist, ultra-communal and dictatorial policies. Consequently, despite being in the state power for 18 years, in the case with implementation issue of the Accord, continues to do away dilly-dally on various pleas and conspiracy directed against the Accord and interest of the Jumma people.
Needless to say, today, the Jumma people are being obliged to lead their life in extreme discrimination, insecurity and uncertainty. In addition, holistically, the human rights violations upon the Jumma people have notably increased. At present, the present government i.e. the ruling class of the country has stepped their best foot forward, to turn the non-Muslim-dominated CHT into a Muslim-dominated region and overall to ensure ethnic cleansing of Jumma people. At this juncture, more unity, solidarity and determined role of the right-loving Jumma people has become inevitable in the on-going movement of resistance against all conspiracy of the ruling class persisting on programs directed against the Accord and interest of the Jumma people.
Dear freedom-loving Jumma people,
Today, the back of the Jumma people has touched the wall. They are left with no space to step backward. Hence, no alternative has been left out for the Jumma people but to build steel-hard national unity to wage greater movement for implementation of the CHT Accord and thereby for establishment of right to self-determination. Like the pre-Accord period, the Jumma people of all walks of life command no any other alternative but to plunge into the greater movement with dedication of do or die spirit. In this regard, it has become highly inevitable that the youth society must come forward to shoulder up the responsibility of greater movement.
It is reckonable that all strata of the Jumma people of CHT want implementation of the Accord. They want relief from the brutal and merciless atrocities and tyranny of the ruling class. Likewise the people of other parts of the country, the Jumma people, too, are determined to avail happy, prosperous and secured life with self-respect and right to equality. Launching resistance against the ruling classes of the British colonial authority, Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last century, the Jumma people have learnt how to forge ahead with fight to death struggle amid any inhospitable situation. M N Larma, the great leader, has immersed his invaluable life showing the path of self-sacrifice. Hence, the Jumma people are determined to lead a life with self-respect and identity even at cost of shedding fresh blood.
The Jumma people who are seasoned through struggle are determined to realize their just right through self-sacrifice. The freedom-loving Jumma people never vowed down head before unjustness and injustice of any ruling class. In the coming days, too, they will and can never vow head before any ruling class that hatches out conspiracy against the Accord and interest of the Jumma people. The arch driving force of the movement for realization of the Accord and thereby attaining the right to self-determination is vested in the endless desire of the Jumma people – a never-exhausting source of inspiration to plunge into do or die struggle against an unequal power.
Needless to say, it is at cost of great self-sacrifice and inexplicable austerity of the oppressed-persecuted Jumma people, the CHT Accord, in other words: the Charter of Rights of the permanent residents of Jumma and Bengali peoples, was acquired. In true sense of the term, there is no room to consider the Accord that was signed to have been a result of compassion, or noble initiative or effort, on part of the ruling class. In fact, it has been a result of bloody struggle for two and a half decades, the force of which obliged the ruling class to enter upon the historic agreement. Hence, the CHT Accord that has been earned at the cost of enumerable lives of the Jumma people and dignity and honour of hundreds of mothers and sisters, can never go in vain. It is for this reason, the PCJSS leadership is determined, together with all strata of the Jumma people, to organize greater movement directing to realize implementation of the Accord and thereby to attain the right to self-determination of the Jumma people.
Hence, come forward! Let us build up steel-hard unity of students, youths and masses, in villages and towns, hills and plains, in jungles and forests; and while standing against all forms of anti-Accord conspiracy and, opportunists and reactionaries, ensure proper and full implementation of the CHT Accord, the Charter of Rights of the Jumma people. Come forward! Let us turn the self-sacrifice of M N Larma and martyrs into our strength and once again, unite under the flag of PCJSS to establish just right of self-determination directing to preserve and uphold national existence.
Therefore, on the occasion of Silver Jubilee of the Accord, PCJSS calls upon the Jumma people of all walks of life, Jumma intellectuals, students and the youths – Come along and let us –
⚫ Organize greater movement for establishment of right to self-determination including implementation of the Accord to preserve the national existence of the Jumma people and the entity of their birth land;
⚫ Unitedly offer resistance and protest against any conspiracy, aggression, atrocities and tyranny of the ruling class and strengthen the struggle of resistance;
⚫ Unmask the face of ultra-nationalist, communal and fascist ruling class and resist all forms of hatred upon the Jumma people – let wherever we stay – be it in the hills or plains, be it in the bushes or forests, be it in the towns or countryside, be it at home or in abroad.
The statement has been published and circulated on 2 December, 2022, by the Central Office of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti, Kalyanpur, Rangamati.