Traditionally, Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) belongs to the 11 ethnic groups who collectively call themselves “Jumma indigenous people”.
Dhaka has been silently sponsoring migration of millions of non-indigenous people from other parts of Bangladesh to CHT since the 1980’s. As a result, the population of non-indigenous people dramatically increased from about 7% in 1971 (birth of Bangladesh) to over 60% in 2011 (the figure was 1.8% in 1947, at the birth of Pakistan). With its massive migrant population now Dhaka has totally crippled the local indigenous people and started dominating them politically, economically, socially and culturally. Two examples:
- All the indigenous candidates for the local municipality elections held on 31 December 2015 have lost to non-indigenous migrant candidates, and they are likely to face the same situation in all future elections in CHT, including that of MPs.
- Almost everyday indigenous people are confronting serious problems, such as communal attack, land-alienation, rape, abduction, murder, religious intolerance, threat and intimidation etc. posed by non-indigenous migrants often with the help of civilian and military administrations totally manned by non-indigenous migrant officers.
Dhaka is fighting a covert and illegal war against the indigenous people to destroy their life, livelihood, identity and culture with its demographic explosion. It can aptly be called a “silent genocide” and an “ethnic cleansing” of the indigenous people without using a single bullet! Dhaka must stop this war and fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord within a fixed time frame for peace, security and development of the indigenous people. And we urge the international community to persuade Dhaka for this purpose.
Dynamics and consequences of Bangladeshi demographic invasion
The following news report (originally published in Bengali) helps us understand the dynamics of Bangladeshi policy of demographic invasion and ethnic cleansing against indigenous peoples and religious minorities:
“Once we’re the only people to live in this area (Patuakhali and Barguna in Barishal District – outside Chittagong Hill Tracts). Later Bengalis came here. They grabbed our land. They didn’t even spare our cremation grounds. We’re now living in a situation that suggests that our story may be found only in books after 5-10 years from now”, says a local Rakhine, Utha Chin.
No government data on the population of the area are available. According to information given by the CARITAS, a non-governmental Church organization, there were 237 Rakhine villages with 35,000 Rakhine people in Patuakhali and Barguna in 1948. In Barguna and Patuakhali there were respectively 93 and 144 Rakhine villages in 1948, and now (2016) the figures have come down to 13 villages with 1251 people and 26 villages with 1174 people.
The Rakhine minority Buddhists are somehow surviving here in this difficult situation without any state law that protects their rights. And they leave their homes and lands when all their resources, energies and morale stand lost in fighting land-cases with their land grabbers on the ground and in court.
This is the standard procedure by which Dhaka phagocytes the indigenous areas, filling them with Bengali and radicalizing them. Given the advanced and almost completed phase of Islamization and colonization of the areas of Patuakhali and Barguna (outside the CHT), we can assume in a decades all the Chittagong Hill Tract will be in the same colonial stage.
Demographic invasion and ethnic cleansing in CHT continues
Dhaka has heavily militarized Chittagong Hill Tracts to provide security to millions of Muslim migrants (locally called “settlers”) coming here from different parts of Bangladesh and to help them grab lands and resources of local indigenous people through forceful and illegal means such as communal attack, religious persecution, rape etc. It has, on the other hand, manned the posts of the head of the three Hill District Administration of CHT called “Deputy Commissioner” (DC) with racially and religiously prejudiced non-indigenous officials and authorized them to issue “permanent resident certificates” to settlers. All this is being done in violation of the letter and spirit of the 1997 CHT Accord. It’s called Bangladeshi demographic invasion and ethnic cleansing in CHT. It has already reduced the local indigenous people to a minority (from 94% in 1971 to some 40% or less than 40% in 2011. The figure was 98.5% in 1947). And now settlers have started dominating them politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Example/consequence:
- Local indigenous candidates lost to settler candidates in all seats in Municipality elections in 2015 and in almost 99% seats in Union Parishad Chairman elections held in April 2016.
- Complete control over local administration, economy, development etc by military backed settlers and exclusion, marginalization and persecution of local indigenous people.
- Growing crimes of settlers against indigenous people such as communal attack, religious persecution, land grabbing, murder, “love jihad”, rape etc.
- Imminent extinction of local indigenous people or ethnic cleansing.
Given the total lack of interest by NGOs and UN-related organizations for the CHT situation, since there is no economic benefic neither a refugee traffic over which make money, we wonder who and what can help survive the Bangladeshi indigenous people.
Source: BD News24