Approximately 600,000 indigenous Jumma peoples of Mongoloid descent live in the mountainous regions of south-eastern Bangladesh. Successive Bangladeshi governments have implemented policies that deny indigenous peoples’ rights and illegally deprive them of their lands. From the 1970's, the militarization of the CHT resulted in massive human rights violations, including numerous massacres. In 1997, the “CHT Peace Accord” was signed by indigenous leaders and the Bangladesh government to international acclaim.
The peace accord provides for the most basic measures to protect indigenous peoples’ rights, such as safe repatriation of indigenous refugees, regional autonomy for the indigenous peoples, withdrawal of military camps, and return of illegally occupied lands. But subsequent governments did little to implement the accord. Meanwhile, illegal land grabbing and severe human rights abuses have continued. The Awami League government that came to power in January 2009 has promised to fully implement the accord, and has taken positive steps in this direction. This signature campaign will show that the international community supports the government’s efforts to fully implement the Accord and is keeping close watch of progress.
Only the Bangladesh government can resolve the conflict and bring peace to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Neither UN bodies nor the indigenous peoples can achieve this on their own. Positive change is possible if we continue to express our wishes for peace to the Bangladesh government. Let’s call on the government to fulfill its promises!
Map of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and surrounding area