Arrest and torture of tribal leaders

March 8, 2007

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The army and police in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, arrested two Jumma tribal leaders this week, adding to the growing number of arrests since a state of emergency was declared in January. Several of those arrested have been tortured.

Balabhadra Chakma and Manubha Ranjan Chakma were both arrested on Monday. Manubha Ranjan Chakma has been tortured, while Balabhadra Chakma, who is recovering from an operation, has been denied medicine.

Ranglai Mro, who was arrested on 23 February, has been tortured and is believed to be in a serious condition. He was arrested after protesting against the eviction in December of 750 Mru (or Mro) families from their land in remote villages of the Bandarban Hill District of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Mru, one of the eleven Jumma tribes, rely on their land as their only source of survival.

Jumma leaders believe that the army and police are using the state of emergency as an excuse to increase military oppression in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Jumma peoples have suffered far too many years of violence at the hands of the Bangladeshi military. The Bangladesh government must release Ranglai Mro and the others and ensure that those responsible for their arrest and torture are brought to justice.’

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]