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Massive Chakma Demonstration in New Delhi for Peace in CHT

 25 February 2010, New Delhi


 A massive demonstration led by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero, President, Peace Camping Group and Mr. Suhas Chakma, Director, Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network was held today in New Delhi to protest recent Bangladeshi military atrocities in CHT. Over 1000 Chakmas and non-Chakma human rights and peace activists participated in the demonstration.


On 19 February Bengali-speaking settlers backed by Bangladeshi military perpetrated arson attacks on indigenous villages in Baghaihat area, CHT. About 450 houses of indigenous people were burnt into aches and 2 indigenous people were killed and over 100 were injured in these attacks. The ethnic clashes and tension continued spreading in different areas of CHT till 24 February. According to latest reports received, 60 houses of indigenous people were burnt down in Khagrachri district town alone and dozens of indigenous people were injured in this series of arson attacks in other areas. Curfew was reportedly imposed in affected areas to control the situation. Thousands of indigenous people fled away from their homes and went hiding in forests fearing more attacks. They were reportedly living in critical condition.


The attacks began with a democratic protest of indigenous people against a project undertaken by Bangladeshi military for settlement of over 15000 Bengali-speaking settlers in Sajek area some one decade ago. The area is covered with forest and full of forest resources. The government is accused of having a plan to bring the area under its strategic control by linking it with rest of Bangladesh through road network for settlement of Bengali-speaking settlers and exploitation of resources there. The project has threatened with eviction of thousands of indigenous families from the area.


The demonstration organized under the banner of PCG and CHT support groups demanded, among others, the withdrawal of Bangladeshi military rule and Bengali-speaking settlers from CHT and implementation of the CHT Accord of 1997 and stop of Bangladeshi policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the region. The demonstration widely covered by different media was addressed by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero, Mr. Subimal Chakma and Mr. Suhas Chakma, among others.


After the demonstration a delegation led by Ven. Karunalankar Mahathero submitted a memorandum to the Office of the Prime Minister of India demanding Indian intervention for peaceful solution to the decade-old ethnic problem in CHT.

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