Friday, February 26, 2010

Chakma Rally for Peace in CHT

NEW DELHI, INDIA - A massive demonstration led by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero, President of Peace Campaign Group (PCG) and Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN), was held today in New Delhi to protest recent Bangladesh military atrocities in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh. Over 1000 Chakmas and non-Chakma human rights and peace activists participated in the demonstration.

On 19 February Bengali settlers backed by Bangladeshi military perpetrated arson attacks on indigenous villages in Baghaihat, CHT. About 450 houses of Indigenous People were burnt into ashes, two Indigenous People were killed and over 100 were injured in these attacks. The ethnic clashes and tension continued spreading in different areas of CHT till 24 February. According to latest reports received, 60 houses of indigenous people were burnt down in Khagrachri district town alone and dozens of Indigenous People were injured in this series of arson attacks in other areas. Curfew was reportedly imposed in affected areas to control the situation. Thousands of Indigenous People fled from their homes and went hiding in forests, fearing more attacks. They were reportedly living in critical condition.

Earlier, Indigenous Peoples here protested against a project undertaken by Bangladeshi military for settlement of over 15000 Bengali settlers in Sajek area a decade ago. The area is covered with forest and full of forest resources. Reportedly, the government intends to bring the area under its strategic control by building a road network for settlement of Bengali settlers and exploitation of resources. The project has threatened with eviction thousands of indigenous families from the area.

The demonstration organized under the banner of Peace Campaign Group (PCG) and CHT support groups demanded, among others, the withdrawal of Bangladeshi military rule and Bengali-speaking settlers from CHT, implementation of the CHT Accord of 1997 and stop of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the region. The demonstration widely covered by different media was addressed by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero, Subimal Chakma and Suhas Chakma, among other leaders.

After the demonstration a delegation led by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero submitted a memorandum to the Office of the Prime Minister of India demanding Indian intervention for peaceful solution to the decade-old ethnic problem in CHT.

Reports and photo from:
Peace Campaign Group (PCG)
RZ-1-91/211.West Sagarpur, nEw Delhi-110046, India

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