Jumma king’s government appointment gives tribes fresh hope

Bangladesh’s caretaker government has given fresh hope to the Jumma tribal people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by appointing a Jumma king to run the affairs of the area.

Raja Devasish Roy, who has been appointed as a ‘Special Assistant to the Chief Advisor’, is the king of the Chakmas, the most numerous of the eleven Jumma tribes. The Chief Advisor is the head of the caretaker government.

The Jumma tribes have suffered decades of violent repression at the hands of the Bangladesh military as the government has moved thousands of Bengali settlers onto their land. The government signed a peace accord with the Jummas in 1997, but has failed to fulfil almost every aspect of it.

Since emergency rule was declared in Bangladesh in January 2007, arrests and torture of Jummas have escalated. But Raja Devasish Roy’s appointment to government has raised hopes that the peace accord may at last be implemented and the Jumma people’s rights respected.

Rupayan Dewan, a senior member of the Jumma political party Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), said, ‘This appointment could be considered the wisest and the most pragmatic decision of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed’.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The violence suffered by the Jummas is among the worst Survival has witnessed. We hope that the appointment of Devasish Roy will be a turning point and that the Bangladesh government will finally start upholding the Jumma’s rights.’

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