The CHT Treaty

Rapes &
Jumma Refugees
CHT Treaty
Foreign Aid

On 2 December 1997 the Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) signed an agreement which has been known as the 'CHT Treaty' with the Bangladesh (BD) Government. The treaty was hailed by leaders around the world as a break through in the quarter of a century conflict in the CHT. At the same time the treaty was condemned by the rightwing parties of Bangladesh who believe the treaty gives away 10 per cent of the land area of Bangladesh to the 'pro-Indian' Chakmas. The Jumma student fronts condemned the treaty as it does not give full autonomy.

Will the treaty guarantee the survival of the Jumma people? It will hardly do so. The BD government did not give in to the single of the JSS's demands. However with time the JSS's demands did not remain static, it evolved. But the demands of the JSS and various Jumma organizations revolved around the three fundamental demands, it is rather fair to say the fundamental demands of the Jumma people.

  1. Autonomy for the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  2. Withdrawal of the Bangladeshi settlers.
  3. Dimilitarization of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The Government refused to consider the demands of the Jumma people and appeared to be interested in granting some trivial concessions, such as providing Regional Council, an advisory body which does not have the decision making power. Moreover there is a provision for representation of the BD settlers, hence legalizing their presence in the CHT, who are in fact at the root of the problem. The peace treaty was a facade for the Bangladesh government to impress the donor countries in the face of allegations of human rights abuses in the CHT. There is no neutral body to monitor the implementation of the accord reached between the JSS and the Government. It's no surprising that the Bills introduced in the parliament by the government deviate from the agreement reached with the JSS. The root causes of the conflict in the CHT are the presence of Bangladeshi settlers and population migration (both voluntary and sponsored) from the mainland Bangladesh. Their is no provision in the treaty to expell the Bangladeshi settlers from the CHT. Neither it imposes restriction on the migration of Bangladeshis to the CHT. One argument put by the right wing BNP, JP and Jamat-e-Islami is that any citizen of Bangladesh has the right to move and settle freely into any part of the country. India, Pakistan and many other countries have the law of restriction of migration into the minority inhabited regions. For example people from the mainland India can't settle into the Muslim majority state of Kashmir, or Arunachal Pradesh, or Mizoram because of their distinct religious and cultural backgrounds. If India had used the same argument it could have flooded Kashmir with migrants from the mainland and alter the demographic profile into a Hindu majority state. For any treaty to succeed there need to be good will and trust from the both sides. Since the independence in 1971, the successive Bangladeshi Governments had done everything to destroy the trust and good will. Now the onus of building the trust is on Bangladesh Government because it's the stronger party, if it awards autonomy to the Jumma people it does not disintegrate the country or violates the nation's sovereignty. It will be impossible to build trust and confidence of the Jumma people without withdrawal of the Bangladeshi settlers from the CHT. The successive Bangladeshi Governments had used foreign aid to encourage and sponsor Bangladeshis to migrate to the CHT, now the Bangladesh Government have to reverse the process if the nation has the sincere desire to polically solve the conflict in the CHT.


  1. The Treaty
  2. Discrepancies between the Treaty and the Bill
  3. Bangladesh Undermines the Treaty
  4. Anti Accord Activity
  5. PCJSS report on 7 Jan 2008

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