Chittagong Hill Tracts. History of Oppression By Govind Acharya, Amnesty International USA Bangladesh Country Specialist, [email protected] Four Broad Groups of People. The Kuki people were the ones who were in the area in prehistoric times.
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During the rule of Gen. Ershad, the insurgency peaked, despite several attempts to split the JSS to isolate them.
Village Defense Parties (VDP) formed by security forces to defend Bengali property and lives killed up to 2,500 tribals in the early 1980s.
On April 19, 1986, a group of refugees fleeing to India were intercepted by the 31st Battalion of the BDR close to the Indian border post. Despite attempts of the Indian border guards to intervene, the 200 individuals were rounded up, many of whom were summarily executed and all were dumped into a mass grave.
In response to a letter by the Bangladesh government to Amnesty International around this time, AI asked that they cite a specific case where a perpetrator was punished– no response was received.
At the height of the conflict at the end of 1986 and 1987, India reported that 40,000 people had crossed into India and were refugees.
Bangladesh hinted that the Shanti Bahini was being armed and funded by their brethren in India. Indeed, many thousands of the same tribal groups do live in Tripura and no doubt provided material support to the JSS.
The CHT residents were mainly involved in agriculture and as refugees, were left depending on handouts from the Government of India.
On April 10, 1992, over 100 tribals were killed in revenge for the alleged killing of a non-tribal boy by the Shanti Bahini. The BDR arrived on the scene, but failed to arrest anyone for the crime.
A unilateral cease-fire was ordered by the Shanti Bahini in response to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s peace talks offer in 1992.
Peace talks were somewhat successful, but the Bangladeshi government failed to issue a guarantee of safety to refugees. The refugees, now 50,000 strong refused to return from India until such guarantees were made.
At Babu Chara Bazar, a women who was molested by a member of the security forces yelled for help. When help arrived, security forces came with 150 men and started beating up the people who helped the woman, leaving three people dead.
The Benuban Buddist Temple was ransacked by settlers in a dispute.
In a recent incident where a group of settlers attacked tribals, nine women were raped, a man was killed in front of his family and a 9-month old baby was strangled to death at Mahalchari. This was in response to a settler who was kidnapped. The residents of the town were not permitted to file a FIR until a court ordered the police to accept it. This incident is currently a subject of a worldwide Amnesty International campaign.