Torment of tribes continues 10 years after peace accord

November 26, 2007

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This Sunday will mark the tenth anniversary of the peace accord between the Bangladesh government and the Jumma tribal peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts – but the government has failed to implement almost every aspect of it.

Violence, land grabbing and intimidation have escalated in the Hill Tracts since the declaration of emergency rule in Bangladesh in January.

Survival and other organisations will deliver a letter to the Bangladesh government simultaneously in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy on 27 November. The letter will demand that the peace accord is fully implemented and human rights violations in the region are ended. In London, a vigil will be held outside the Bangladesh High Commission.

The eleven tribes of the Hill Tracts have experienced waves of murder, torture and rape at the hands of the Bangladesh military ever since the country gained independence in 1971. The government has moved hundreds of thousands of Bengali settlers onto their land.

On 2 December 1997 the government and the Jummas signed a peace accord that committed the government to removing military camps from the region and to ending the theft of Jumma land by settlers and the army. The accord offered hope, but military camps remain in the Hill Tracts and violence and land grabbing continue.

Since emergency rule was declared in January, over 50 Jumma activists have been arrested, often on false charges. Many have been tortured.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Bangladesh’s campaign against the Jummas has been genocidal. With the peace accord, the country salvaged some of its reputation. But ten years on, with abuses escalating, international attention must focus on the Chittagong Hill Tracts once more.’

Survival campaigner Sophie Grig and UK-based Jumma filmmaker Ina Hume are available for interview. Ina Hume is the daughter of a Jumma princess. Bengali speakers are also available for interview.

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