During the campaign, messages gathered from around the world, information on events to add momentum to the campaign, and reports on its progress will be delivered by e-mail (in English and Japanese). To receive the e-mail updates, please check the appropriate box in the sign-up form.
Report: Tom Eskildsen, Vice-Chairperson, Jumma Net (Japan)
(Photo: Mr. Naoto Sakaguchi, House of Representatives, Democratic Party of Japan and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Prime Minister's official residence on 21 March 2010)
At 7-8P.M. on Sunday, 21st March 2010, Japanese Members of Parliament Mr. Naoto Sakaguchi and Ms. Mieko Tanaka (House of Representatives, Democratic Party of Japan) handed an appeal for full implementation of the CHT Peace Accord with 35,757 signatures to Honorable Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, bringing to conclusion the “Global Voices for Peace in the CHT” campaign that had been underway since last August. The MPs and Japanese Ambassador Tamotsu Shinotsuka engaged in an active discussion with the Prime Minister for an hour.
“This is our issue. Nobody wants to promote peace in the hill tracts more than I do!”
Prime Minister Hasina’s passionate words struck a cord with the MPs, who went on to discuss with her about how Japan could help peace building and economic revitalization in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The MPs said they would encourage Japanese companies to invest in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and promised to remain engaged.
“Handing in the signatures is not the goal, but a new starting point” commented MP Sakaguchi after the meeting. MPs Sakaguchi and Tanaka worked tirelessly to visit other MPs’ offices until immediately prior to their departure, succeeding in collecting as many as 60 signatures from fellow members of parliament. They will most certainly serve as a bridge between Japan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in parliamentary committees, the Japan parliamentary group on Bangladesh, and through other means. Gaining such strong allies in parliament was an unexpected achievement of the signature campaign.
The appointment with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina could not be finalized until the last minute, so the Japanese Embassy’s role of making arrangements for the MPs was critical indeed. When the MPs arrived in Dhaka on Saturday, 20th March, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was still in Yunnan Province, China. We were told that there was less than 50% chance of being able to meet her. Even as the MPs were visiting a project for street children, a handicraft center and schools for indigenous children, the embassy staff was on the phone negotiating with the Prime Minister's office. Their efforts were rewarded when Prime Minister Hasina kindly agreed to meet the MPs a few hours after her return on the afternoon of Sunday, 21st March.
(Photo:Tom and activicts of BIPF)
Arriving a couple of days earlier, I went to the office of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum on the 18th to gather and count the signatures with the help of Jumma activists. I phoned the Hill Students Council, Hill Women’s Federation, Headman Association and other local organizations and asked them to bring their signatures. Piled up in a stack, they formed a mountain of paper more than two feet high and fifty pounds in weight. Signatures from overseas were sorted by country and found to have come from as many as 105 nations. A craftsman bound the papers in book format so they looked like a stack of encyclopedias.
(Photo:the Banaful Indigenous Green Heart College)
I stuffed the signature books in a jute bag, hauled them by three-wheeler to the Banaful Indigenous Green Heart College, and waited for the arrival of the MPs and Embassy staff. On a searing, sultry afternoon, Mr. Sakaguchi arrived dressed to the hilt in a formal suit, and Ms. Tanaka blending with the crowd in a colorful Chakma “pinon and khadi” dress. They did the rounds of the classrooms, conversing cheerfully with the children.
（Photo：Mr. Naoto Sakaguchi with an appeal letter for PM Sheikh Hasina）
（Photo；Welcome ceremony at the Banaful Indigenous Green Heart College）
After a welcome ceremony, we drove over to Sonargaon Hotel to meet up with Ambassador Shinozuka, and headed to the Prime Minister’s official residence. Unfortunately, I was taken to another room and not allowed to meet the Prime Minister, but it was possible to get an assistant to the Prime Minister to sign a form acknowledging receipt of the signatures. The meeting with the Prime Minister was reported in the TV news, bdnews24.com, and the local papers Daily Star and Prothom Alo.
The signature campaign collected 35.757 signatures and 2754 messages from citizens in 105 countries and 12 autonomous regions, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, 62 Members of Parliament of Japan, 4 Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of Australia, 1 Member of Constituent Assembly of Nepal, and leaders of civil society in Bangladesh and around the world. The campaign was co-sponsored by the CHT Jumma Peoples Network of the Asia Pacific (Australia), the Indigenous Jumma People's Network USA, Jumma Net (Japan), and the Organizing Committee Chittagong Hill Tracts Campaign (Holland), with the endorsement of 55 organizations worldwide. It was probably the largest signature campaign ever regarding the Chittagong Hill Tracts issue. At a time when the accord faces severe obstacles, including a legal challenge to its constitutionality, protests against withdrawal of military camps, and continued land grabbing and communal violence most starkly evident in the tragic 19-23 February 2010 Baghaihat/Khagrachari arson incidents which left hundreds of families homeless, we think it is of no small significance that so many messages of support could be delivered to Prime Minister Hasina from Japan, Bangladesh’s leading bilateral donor, and from around the world. It is our fervent wish that these global voices will create an atmosphere conducive to unity among the Jumma peoples and help to break through bottlenecks in the peace process.
(See the detail : Press Release: 100321JNpressrelease4e (PDF148KB))
We would like to express our heart-felt gratitude to MPs Sakaguchi and Tanaka who traveled all the way to Bangladesh, to Ambassador Shinotsuka, First Secretary Yoshida, Second Secretary Komine and other staff at the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka who coordinated the MPs’ travels and meeting with the Prime Minister, to our colleagues of the co-sponsor organizations overseas who helped to make this a truly international campaign through debate across multiple time zones with countless e-mails, to the endorsing organizations that helped to spread the word about the campaign through their websites, list-serves, newsletters, etc., to the many volunteers who tirelessly collected signatures, to the Jumma Net secretariat for overall coordination, and to everyone who kindly contributed to this endeavor.
Press Release: 100321JNpressrelease4e (PDF148KB)
The Daily Star：(English)
From 1:30 to 3:30 PM on Saturday 19 Dec. 2009, activists took to the streets near Yurakucho station in Tokyo to collect signatures and appeal for full implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. More than thirty Jumma people living in Japan called for an end to human rights violations and for implementation of the accord in this action jointly organized by Jumma Net and Jumma Peoples Network in Japan (JPNJ), an organization of Jumma peoples living in Japan. Jumma Net's steering committee, members and supporters as well as activists working on issues such as human rights in Chechnya, Kurdish refugees, etc., also lent their support, collecting signatures and raising a common voice for peace from Japan. A total of about 20 Japanese people participated.
The Jumma peoples living in Japan, who rarely have an opportunity to get together in such large numbers, took time out from their work and families to gather for this street action. Since signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997, conflict between the two rival Jumma political organizations JSS and UPDF has been an obstacle to the peace building process. However, Jumma peoples associated with both groups gathered for this day's appeal, calling on Japanese people to support peace in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The English website for the "Global Voices for Peace in the CHT” Campaign has been started! The co-sponsors actively seek other like-minded organizations willing to endorse the campaign and/or help with collecting signatures. Bloggers are also welcome to copy and paste the campaign banner into their blogs/web pages. Please help us to spread the word about this campaign!
The "Global Voices for Peace in the CHT" Campaign has been launched! Signatures will be collected from around the world to submit to Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The period for collection of signatures is from August 2009 until the end of January 2010.
Large Banner 250 x 110 pixels
Small banner 250 x 67 pixels
Please feel free to copy & paste this banner into your website or blog, to link it with the “100,000 Global Voices for Peace in the CHT” campaign website. Please inform as many people as possible about this campaign.