A short video of the “Stop the Violence Against Paharis” demo held at Altab Ali Park, yesterday.
This was the statement which was read out at the meeting:
Honourable Prime Minister,
We, the Bengali and Jumma people living in the United Kingdom (UK), express our deepest concern about the recent attacks and acts of violence against the Indigenous peoples in Baghaichari, Rangamati and Khagrachori districts in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), that occurred between 19-23 February 2010.
We are following the acts of violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts through newspapers, both national and international, as well as electronic media. While government officials have confirmed two deaths of Jumma people, other sources indicate that at least six more indigenous people were killed, more than 20 people were injured, three Buddhist temples and one Church were destroyed and 200 Jumma’s houses were burnt in Baghaichari upazila on 20 February 2010. Moreover, 37 houses of indigenous peoples were allegedly burnt down by the Bengali settlers and one Bengali settler was reportedly killed during the clashes between Jumma people and Bengali settlers on 23 February in the Khagrachori district. However, at least four journalists covering the incident are reported to have been attacked and injured since 19 February. In addition, according to our sources, approximately 100 indigenous people and 30 Bengali settlers have been arrested and most of their family members have not, as yet, been informed of their whereabouts. Thousands of indigenous people have fled their homes and are currently living in fear inside deep forest, with no shelter and little access to food and medicine.
In this context of violence, which has affected the local communities across two districts, we urge the Government of Bangladesh to immediately carry out an impartial and independent investigation of these incidents of attacks, killings, arson, and to identify the perpetrators and try them through the due process of law. We also urge you to ensure that adequate relief, rehabilitation and reparations are provided for the victims, including medical assistance for injured people, and that the people arrested have access to lawyers, benefit from due process guarantees, and are not at risk of torture. Finally we urge you to fully implement the CHT Accord within a clear workable map and timetable to restore security and peace in the region of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
We believe that the Bangladesh Government will respect, promote and protect the human rights of the Jumma people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) with an aim to ultimately bring peace in the region and show the Government’s commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples.