© Mark McEvoy/Survival
The Bangladeshi government has said it is taking steps to implement the peace accord made in 1997 with the Jumma tribes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
The accord was designed to end years of violent repression of the Jumma tribes at the hands of the Bangladesh military.
State Minister for CHT Affairs Mr Dipankar Talukder said this week that the government has begun to form a committee to work out ways to implement the accord. He said the government would also bring in long awaited amendments to the land commission law within the next two months, in order to ensure ‘the indigenous people's right to land’.
The statement comes only a few weeks after the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC), led by British parliamentarian Lord Avebury, concluded its second mission to the region. The commission called on the Bangladeshi government to demilitarize the CHT and return stolen land to its tribal owners.
The hill tracts are home to 11 tribes, collectively known as Jummas after their practice of ‘shifting cultivation’, known locally as ‘Jhum’. Hundreds of thousands of settlers have been moved into the hills over the last sixty years, displacing the Jumma people and subjecting them to brutal repression.