Violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

September 30, 2003

This page was created in 2003 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Several communities of Jummas, the tribal peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, have been attacked by Bengali settlers. The settlers, with the tacit support of soldiers, attacked Jumma villages in the Khagrachari Hill District area on 26 and 27 August, killing Binod Bihari Khisha and eight-month-old Chikku Chakma, raping Jumma women, injuring many other Jumma people and burning down houses, leaving hundreds homeless.

’Jumma' is the collective name given to the eleven tribes of the CHT. The tribes, which number in total around 600,000 people, are the original inhabitants of the area and are ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of the population of Bangladesh. In the past, Bangladesh governments have seen the CHT as empty land onto which they can move poor Bengali settlers. In the last 50 years, the Jumma peoples have gone from being practically the sole inhabitants of the area, to being almost outnumbered by settlers. In addition to the loss of their land, they have suffered decades of persecution at the hands of the settlers and the military. A peace accord signed in 1997 should have brought an end to the conflict, but the government has refused to implement most of its provisions.