December 2 marked the 22th years of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. In 1997, the accord was signed with a view to resolve the conflicts in the CHT. Even two decades after the accord, many important clauses including land disputes is yet to be implemented by successive governments. With the in direct state support tourism industry in CHT has been evolving. Young people share their thoughts on this with New Age Youth and urge that the government to implement the terms of the accord
University of Dhaka
WHEN I was a high school student, I used to think that what does the implementation of the peace accord mean? Why every year, On December 2, this day is observed? After finishing my schooling, I entered college and started to understand the terms of the peace accord and realised who were the clauses targeted to and who will be the beneficiary of the accord.
A group of people enters into an accord with another group of people to construct a relationship of respect and trust. With similar view in mind, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma for the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti and Abul Hasanat Abdullah, for the government of Bangladesh signed the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord in 1997. This has been a historic incident for the Jumma people.
Since the signing of the accord, 22 years have been passed. The accord was signed to politically and peacefully address the complexities of CHT. Hope was ignited for the Jumma people that peace and stability would come to CHT with the accord. People hoped that there would be a special status and autonomous system for the three hill districts of Bangladesh and a co-operation in the administrative level would be formed between Bengali and Jumma people. This would help to claim the Jumma their right share in the governance system
Even after 22 years, as most of the terms of accord are yet to be fulfilled, the Jumma have not been able to penetrate in the local governance system. As a result, the long standing complexities could not come to a politically peaceful solution.
Subsequent governments, on the one hand, have deliberately procrastinated in implementing the clauses of the accord and on the other hand, they have spread misinformation and lies in different local and foreign platforms. A number of government spokespersons, ministers and bureaucrats have said that among the 72 terms of the accord, 48 are already been implemented, 15 are partially completed and the rest 9 are on the process of implementation. Many of the claims here are not true.
Not only subsequent governments fail to implement the terms of the accord and falsify their actions, they have implemented rules and laws that are against the interest of Jumma people. In recent times, through different state law enforcers, settlers and outside investors, Jumma people’s agricultural lands and sacred places are violated and occupied at an alarming rate besides evictions and forced displacement.
Besides, through the recent tourism branding of the CHT by the state has opened up spaces for powerful people to invest in luxury hotels, resorts and other recreational activities. As a result, sanctity of religious beliefs is violated as well as many Jumma people have already been victims of forced displacement and many are on the line.
The complexities of the CHT are not only local issue but also national issue. In fact, the CHT Accord was signed for the betterment of the country. In this regard, all the terms of the accord should be implemented as soon as possible.
Md Abu Sadi Shitol
North South University
THE Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was a treaty to end the armed clashes between Jumma people and Bangladesh government law enforcements. The then Bangladesh government signed the accord on December 2, 1997 with Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti. Twenty two years are passed but there are a lot debates on implementations of the clauses of the accord.
According to the accord, the government has handed over 17 of the 33 administrative departments to the district councils. However, important departments like forestry, land-management and general administration are yet to be re-distributed. A number of basic clauses of the accord are yet to be implemented.
Previously, the conflicts were among Jumma people and the state forces; now it became conflicts among different local political parties. After 22 years of the accord, peace is yet to be achieved in the hills. Jumma and Bengali conflicts are yet to be resolved. Expected socio-economic development from the accord is near non-existent. Nature is being rampaged in the name of development and there are no one to monitor or held accountable the violators.
Voting rights of the Jumma people in the local and regional level elections are not ensured yet. The district councils have not got any polls yet. No voter list is formed yet.
The most complicated issue of the peace accord was land distribution. A major complexity is that in the CHT, no land survey has been undertaken. Land distribution is the major problem for the Jumma people. To form a complete voter list, the locals need their complete rights on their lands because they are also citizens of this country.
EVEN after 22 years of the CHT Peace Accord, Jumma people’s rights have not been ensured. General administration, law and order, land distribution, development, education and tourism — none of these important departments are allotted under local district councils which were expected according to the accord.
Moreover, through military governance, two separate policies are implemented for two areas of the same country. Instead of resolving the land issues, rehabilitating more settlers in the CHT is further problematising the scenario.
Local conflicts including murder, kidnap and forced disappearance are terrorising the Jumma people. If the government fails to give the Jumma their proper rights through the constitution and implement the peace accord — peace will never be achieved
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Voice