Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHT)

  • 49%
  • Implementation Score 
    after 10 years
Provisions in this Accord
Electoral/Political Party Reform

B) Hill DISTRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

9. The existing section 17 shall be replaced with the sentences mentioned as below:

A person shall, under the Act, be eligible to be enrolled in the electoral roll, if

(1) he is a citizen of Bangladesh;
(2) his age is not less than 18 years;
(3) he is not declared mentally unsound by any competent court;
(4) he is a permanent resident of Hill District.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

The first three clauses of this provision date back to 1989 in the original Rangamati Hill District Council Act and did not involve any change to existing legislation. The 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord added clause 4, which stipulated that only certified permanent residents of the CHT could vote in CHT elections. The significance of adding clause 4 was that, if fully enforced, it would give the Jumma community an electoral majority in the CHT by preventing non-permanent residents (i.e., Bengali settlers) from voting in CHT elections. This would ensure that the elected representatives for the CHT were mostly tribal members. Because the Accord granted the Circle Chiefs the authority to decide permanent residency status, the addition of clause 4 would have given tribal leaders a large degree of control over who would be eligible to vote in CHT elections.

In 1998, clause 4 was added to existing legislation as called for by the Accord. The phrase “he is a permanent resident of Hill District” was inserted into the Rangamati Hill District Council Act by Act IX of 1998. Although the change was made, the resulting new law was not enforced, or could not be enforced, for two main reasons. First, the changes in the CHT Accord were in contradiction to the Bangladeshi national constitution. Faced with this contradiction, government officials in the CHT allowed residents of a district to retain their voting rights under the Bangladesh constitution. According to clause 2 (d), of Article 122 of the Bangladesh Constitution and Section 4 of the Electoral Rolls Ordinance of 1982, “A person has the right to be included in the voter list of a constituency determined for parliamentary elections, if he/she is a resident of that constituency or considered to be a resident of that constituency by law” and “a person shall be considered to be a resident of that constituency where he/she usually or generally lives."

The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, in their own publications admitted that the electoral changes called for by the CHT Accord were not in accordance with the Bangladesh constitution. The PCJSS insisted that in order to fully implement clause 4, government officials had to violate the national constitution and take away the voting rights of several hundred thousand Bengali settlers residing in the CHT, many in government sponsored camps. The government thus far had been unwilling or incapable of enforcing the new law.

The second reason why the new law was not enforced had to do with the fact that tribal authorities did not gain the level of control over the granting of permanent residency certificates in the CHT as they expected. In other words, implementing electoral reform in the CHT depended upon the successful implementation of citizenship reform. Citizenship reform, however, was not implemented and this resulted in thousands of Bengali settlers being issued permanent residency certificates by CHT Deputy Commissioners, which in turn, allowed them to be put on voter registration lists. The crafters of the 1997 Accord counted on gaining control over CHT citizenship qualifications as part of their plan to prevent Bengali settlers from voting, but Bengali settlers and government officials found ways of getting around the provision.1

  • 1. See Citizenship reform for this agreement.
1999

Minimum Implementation

 In March 1999, the sixth meeting of the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Refugees and Internal Displaced Persons met to settle the issue of Bengali refugees returning to the CHT. The CHT Accord stipulated that only those owning land in the CHT and residing in the CHT would qualify for permanent residency. The PCJSS rejected any plans that gave Bengali refugees rehabilitation assistance to resettle back in the CHT. At the meeting, the government appointed Chair of the Task Force, Dipankar Talukdar, insisted that all internal refugees, tribal and non-tribal, should be rehabilitated. The PCJSS demanded that only tribal refugees be rehabilitated back to the CHT and that Bengalis be resettled by the government outside the CHT.2

Later that year in August of 1999, the Task Force reported on the number of refugees that had signed up for rehabilitation in the CHT. The Chair of the Task Force, Dipankar Talukdar, reported that “a total of 152,000 families, of which 83,525 are tribals and 68,475 are non-tribals, from the three hill districts of rangamati, khagrachhari and bandarban (sic) have filled out the government supplied forms to be entertained as internal refugees” (Xinhua News Agency, 1999). The chair indicated that non-tribal refugees displaced by the insurgency would be treated as internal refugees and rehabilitated.3

  • 2. “6th meeting of CHT Task Force ends without any decision,” The Independent, March 10, 1999.
  • 3. “80 pct of repatriated tribals rehabilitated in Bangladesh,” Xinhua News Agency, August 4, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

 In 2000, the Task Force on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons submitted a list of 90,208 indigenous families and 38,156 Bengali families to be rehabilitated. The PCJSS and Jumma Refugee Welfare Association rejected the list because it contained Bengali settlers who came to the CHT during the government sponsored transmigration program from 1979 to 1984. When the non-PCJSS members refused to exclude the Bengali settlers, the PCJSS and the Jumma Refugee Welfare Association boycotted the Task Force, thereby shutting it down.4

  • 4. "Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997, submitted by the Special Rapporteur," UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011, accessed November 17, 2014, http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dbfb1262.html.
2001

Minimum Implementation

In 2001, these issues finally came to a head when thousands of non-permanent residents were included on the voter registration list for the 2001 national parliamentary elections. A UN Report on the CHT Accord summarized the incident:

"The Accord stipulates the preparation of a voter list comprising only the permanent residents of the three hill districts, that is, individuals having a specific address and legally valid ownership of land in the region. A voter list prepared prior to the 2001 parliamentary election, which included non-permanent Bengali settlers, was therefore rejected by PCJSS. Another matter is the issue of “permanent residents”. Given that a large percentage of the Government-sponsored Bengali settlers of the region have land-record documents, and given the question of whether many of the titles held by the settlers are valid in the first place, there are fears that many Bengali settlers will once again be included if a new voter list is prepared."5

On September 27, 2001, the PCJSS called for a general strike and announced that it would boycott the national election scheduled for the next week because tribal members were not being allowed to vote in CHT elections. The PCJSS stated to the press that since the 1997 Peace Accord, thousands of tribes people who had returned to the CHT were not eligible to vote because they lacked land titles.6

  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. “Former Bangladesh rebel group calls strike for election day,” Agence France Presse, September 27, 2001.
2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Minimum Implementation

According to several reports on the status of this provision, the “issue of the voter list…remains unresolved.”7

In summary, no developments on this issue seem to have been made from 2000 onwards. The PCJSS demanded that non-land owning Bengalis be denied permanent residency status and be stripped of voting rights in the CHT. They also maintained that government issued land titles from the transmigration period were not valid land titles. In sharp contrast, the CHT Deputy Commissioners continued to grant permanent residency status to Bengalis regardless of whether they owned land in the CHT. The 2011 PCJSS implementation report stated that, “at least 300,000 Bengali settlers who were brought into the three hill districts in the 80s by the government got enrolled in the recent voter list.” Given the magnitude of the problem, the volatility in the tracts between the two ethnic communities, and the continued military presence, this provision will likely remain unenforceable.

  • 7. "Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997."
Decentralization/Federalism

B) Hill DISTRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

19. In the section 42 the following sub-section shall be added-- The Council with the fund received from the government shall formulate initiate and implement development projects on the subjects transferred and all the development works initiated at the national level shall be implemented by the concerned ministry/department through the Council.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

 The CHT Accord devolved numerous powers from the Government of Bangladesh to the CHT Tribal Councils. Implementation was initiated in 1998 with the passage of the amended HDC Acts by the Bangladeshi parliament, which, in essence, ratified the legislative changes called for in the CHT Accord. Under the amended 1998 legislation, the functions of the Councils included: law, police, primary and secondary education, health, agriculture, game and fisheries, cooperatives, trade, commerce, social welfare, cultural protection, roads and highways, waterways, public parks, development, justice, land and land management, conservation, tourism, licensing, statistics, and banking.

Most important among the legislative changes was the creation of a Regional Council to stand above the three district councils. Passed by the Bangladeshi parliament and approved by the president on May 24, Act 12 – the “Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act of 1998” – established the new Regional Council. Sections 2 through 14 of part C of the Accord put forth various administrative rules on the composition, selection, and duties of the Regional Council. The Accord stipulated in section C (2) that the chairman of the Regional Council was to be elected from the elected members of the 3 lower councils, have the status of a state minister, and must be a Jumma. The scope of powers that the 1997 Accord granted to the CHT councils, if fully implemented and enforced, would yield the highest level of autonomy possible, short of independence. While not every transferred power or legislative change could be discussed in detail, a few important changes stipulated by the CHT Accord and passed in 1998 were discussed.

One noteworthy reform brought about by the 1998 legislation was the repeal or deletion of section 51 from the original Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989, which originally read as follows:

"51. Control Over the activities of the Council: (1) If Government is satisfied that anything done or intended to be done by on behalf of the Council not in conformity with law or is inconsistent with or contrary to public interest, the Government may, by order: (a) quash the proceeding; (b) suspend the execution of any resolutions passed or order given by the Council; (c) prohibit execution of anything proposed to be done; (d) require the Council to take such action as may be specified. (2) When order under sub-section (1) is made the Council may, within thirty days of the receipt of the order, represent it to the Government. (3) The Government shall within thirty days of the receipt of the representation either confirm or modify or set aside the order. (4) If any reason the order is not confirmed or modified within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been set aside.”

Given the original language of section 51 (namely, that the government may quash or suspend any law or activity that comes out of the Tribal Councils), the removal of this entire section served to substantially remove government oversight of the Council. Another important change involved section 27 of the Accord, which amended section 65 of the original Rangamati HDC Act of 1989. The original section 65 stated the following:

"65. Special regulation regarding land Development tax. Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, the Government may, by a notification in the official gazette, entrust the responsibility of collecting land development tax and may, by a similar notification, credit the whole or a portion of such tax, realized in the district, to the Council fund as grant."

This section was amended based on the 1997 Accord and now reads as follows:

"65. Collection of land development tax. Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, responsibility of collecting land development tax from taxable under the jurisdiction of Rangamati Hill District Council shall be vested with the Council and the said collected tax shall be credited to the Council’s fund."

By comparing these two sections, it is evident that the new law removed government involvement in collecting land taxes and transferred that power over to the Council. In the original act, the Government would have collected certain taxes in the CHT and granted that money to the Council. In the revised section, the Council assumed the power of direct taxation.

Section 30 of the Accord called for two changes to be made to section 69 of the Rangamati HDC Act of 1989, which dealt with the power of the Council to make regulations and laws. The original text read as follows:

"69. Power to make regulations. (1) For carrying out the purposes of this Act, the Council may, with the prior approval of the Government, make regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act or any rule."

This section was amended based on the 1997 Accord and now reads as:

"69. Power to make regulations.- (1) For carrying out the purposes of this Act, the Council may make regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act or any rule. Provided that if the Government does not agree with any part of the Regulations made, it shall be competent to give advice or directive to the Council towards amendments of the said regulations."

In accordance with the 1997 accord, the words “with the prior approval of the Government” were removed in the amended legislation, giving the Council the unfettered power to make regulations for the CHT. The 1997 Accord also added a mechanism of recourse for the Government: the Government could “give advice” to the Council if it wished. The Accord also added new Council functions. Sections 34 and 35 of the accord sought to add to the list of functions and responsibilities of the Hill District Councils. All these changes were incorporated into the new legislation passed in 1998. In all, 12 additional areas of responsibility and 12 additional sources of tax revenue were transferred to the Councils.

1999

Minimum Implementation

In February of 1999, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appointed Jyotindra Bodhipriyo Larma (Shantu Larma), the former JSS rebel leader from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, to a position of minister to head the new Regional Council.1 In May 1999, the 22-member interim CHT Regional Council was formally established in the southeastern hill district of Rangamati. However, all the members were appointed by the Government of Bangladesh rather than elected since no acceptable voter registration list was available due to the lack of progress on citizenship reform.2

Clauses 33 and 34 of the CHT Accord added to the list of powers or functions that were transferred to the Council. These changes were made in the amended legislation of 1989. The government functions listed under the revised “Functions of the Council” that were to be devolved to the CHT Council contained over 100 specific policies falling under 33 general policy areas.3

  • 1. “Bangladesh's former rebel tribal leader made minister,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 18, 1999.
  • 2. “Interim Chittagong hill tracts council installed,” Xinhua News Agency, May 27, 1999.
  • 3. "Amended Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989 (Act 19 of 1998)," accessed October 3, 2012.
2000

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Minimum Implementation

 Implementation of these transfers had been mixed. The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, reported that out of the 33 functions to be transferred to the HDCs, portions or limited duties were transferred in 12 functions: Agriculture, Health, Primary Education, Small Industry, Cooperatives, Social Welfare, Fishery, Livestock, Public Health, Culture, Sports, and Red Cross/Crescent Unit. Clause 35 listed 12 sources of taxable revenue to be transferred to the Councils. Of these 12 revenue sources, the PCJSS claimed that none of these revenues had been transferred to the Councils.4

Clauses 1 through 14 of part C of the CHT Accord governed the functions and powers of the Regional Council. As already stated, the Regional Council was established by the Bangladeshi parliament in 1998 and Shantu Larma was appointed chairperson on 12 May 1999. Like the HDCs, however, the election of the remaining members of the Regional Council had not taken place in the previous ten years due to the lack of implementation of electoral reform and citizenship reform, as was called for in the Accord.

Clause 9 put the three HDCs under the authority of the Regional Council. It was evident that this relationship had not been legally or judicially enforced. The HDCs were run by government appointees for the last ten years and did not follow the directives of the Regional Council. Shantu Larma and the PCJSS had issued statements that were consistent with other sources in regarding the Regional Council as powerless over the three HDCs. According to Larma, the Regional Council existed in name only; the chairperson and employees had no official offices or accommodations of their own, according to their reports.5

  • 4. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011, 22-23.
  • 5. Ibid, 24-25.
Police Reform

B) Hill DISCRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

Implementation History
1998

No Implementation

Gaining control over the Bengali dominated police force in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) was a major objective of the Jumma leaders in the 1997 Accord. Reports and press statements from the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, were clear that the purpose of the police reform provision in the 1997 Accord was to establish a local CHT district police force that better reflected the ethnic composition of the CHT and Jumma communities. 

Two significant changes were brought about by the Accord. The first change was to remove the word “assistant” from the original legislation which read “assistant Sub-Inspector and below”, thereby increasing the power of the Council to hire and fire at the level of Sub-Inspector and below. This detail would, presumably, include the majority of the police force (i.e., all the rank and file as well as intermediate management).

The second change called for by the Accord regarded the ethnic composition of the CHT police force. The original legislation governing the CHT police force gave the Council various powers “[P]rovided that the ratio amongst tribal, non-tribal and various other tribal people of the district in the matter of such appointment has to be maintained as far as practicable.”1 In other words, the government included language that not only prevented preferential policies in hiring for tribal residents, but stipulated that current ethnic group ratios in the CHT police force had to be maintained. In essence, this meant preserving the Bengali dominance of the CHT police force. Amendment 24 of the 1997 CHT Accord did away with this language, giving the Council the power to hire and fire members of the police force “provided that in the matter of such appointment tribals (sic) shall be given priority."2

Act no. IX of 1998 added text from section 24 of the CHT Peace Accord to section 62 of the original Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989. Section 62 now reads:

"62. District Police. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act for the time being in force, all members of the rank of Sub-Inspector and below thereof of Rangamati Hill District Police shall be appointed by the Council in a manner laid down by regulations and the Council may transfer and take disciplinary action against them as per procedure laid down by regulations: Provided that with regard to such appointment the preference shall be given to the tribal candidates of Rangamati Hill District. (2) The terms and conditions of service of all the officers and members of the District Police, appointed by the Council, and their training, uniform, duties, responsibilities and administration shall be the same as those of the other District Police, and all the laws relating to these matter as applicable to the district police shall, subject to provisions of sub-section (1) be applicable to them as well. (3) The officers and members of all ranks of the Rangamati Hill District Police shall, subject to provisions of all other relevant laws with necessary additions, be responsible to the Council in the matter of discharging their duties and responsibilities."

If implemented, these changes would have brought sweeping power to a Jumma controlled CHT police force. The first of the two phrases increased the power of the Council in hiring and firing police employees, while the second stipulated that tribal residents be given preference in hiring as opposed to maintaining the current ratios for all ethnic groups. The third reiterated that the administration of the police in the CHT was to be transferred to the Councils. In time, these policy changes would be expected to produce a police force populated mostly by tribal residents. At the very least, the percentage of the CHT police force that was tribal would better reflect the group’s proportion of the total population of the CHT (around 50 percent at the time).

There were no developments by the government in 1998 to transfer the administration of the CHT police force over to tribal authorities.

  • 1. "Amended Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989 (Act 19 of 1998)," accessed October 3, 2012.
  • 2. Ibid.
1999

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2000

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

No Implementation

 Writing in 2002, Chowdhury stated that, “Though this provision has been included in the Hill District Council Acts, relevant power according to this provision has not been transferred to Hill District Councils.”3

  • 3. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” (unpublished manuscript for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
2003

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

No Implementation

According to an 2011 PCJSS report, “[T]he higher authorities of the police continue to exercise this power as before…Nothing has been done in giving priority to the Jumma people in appointment of police forces of the CHT as per the CHT Accord and HDC Acts.”

The government maintained that they followed the Accord and hired 671 Jummas as police constables. However, these recruits were stationed outside of the CHT. The PCJSS stated that, “per the provision of the CHT Accord, 671 Jumma people were recruited as Police Constable and 11 other as Traffic Sergeant (sic) and posted in the plain districts (outside CHT Hill districts) of Bangladesh.” The Regional Council made many requests to have the 671 Jumma that had been sent to stations in the hostile Bengali dominated plains districts transferred back to the CHT, but these requests went unanswered or were denied. Subjected to untold racial abuse, harassment, and discrimination, most of the 671 Jumma police stationed in the plains districts resigned, some who were forced to do so after complaints were lodged against them.4

  • 4. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011, accessed December 13, 2012.
Demobilization

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

12. The Jana Samhati Samiti shall submit to the govt the lists of its all members including the armed ones and the arms and ammunition under its possession and control within 45 days of signing this agreement.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

 All JSS troops were registered within the deadline, turned in their arms, and received their reintegration payment in 1998.1 Chowdhury also reported that all JSS men surrendered their arms within the deadline and no legal action was taken against them.2

  • 1. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011. 
  • 2. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, "Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the implementation of the CHT Accord," ACDIS (Occasional Paper, 2002), 24.
1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Disarmament

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

12. The Jana Samhati Samiti shall submit to the govt the lists of its all members including the armed ones and the arms and ammunition under its possession and control within 45 days of signing this agreement.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

 All JSS troops were registered within the deadline, turned in their arms, and received their reintegration payment in 1998.1 Around 1,947 Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, fighters handed over their arms to representatives of the Government of Bangladesh on four separate occasions.2 Chowdhury also reported that all JSS men surrendered their arms within the deadline, and therefore no legal action was taken against them.3

  • 1. “Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011. 
  • 2. Eleanor P. Dictaan-Bang-oa, “In Search of Peace in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh,” in Beyond the Silencing of the Guns, 2004.
  • 3.  Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, "Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the implementation of the CHT Accord," ACDIS (Occasional Paper, 2002), 24.
1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Reintegration

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

16. After the return of all JSS members to normal life general amnesty shall be given to them and the permanent residents who were involved in the activities of the JSS.

a. In order to providing rehabilitation to all returnee JSS members a lump sum of Taka 50,000/- shall be given to each family.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

 All of the JSS troops that were on the demobilization list were given Tk. 50,000 by the government to reintegrate – even those that were in jail at the time.1

The Accord also called for those who had lost their jobs with the government to be reinstated. According to the last PCJSS report, out of the 78 Jumma who were employed by the government during the insurgency and had lost their positions, 64 were reinstated to their former positions.2

  • 1.  Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” (paper for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
  • 2. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011. 
1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Prisoner Release

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

Page 42 of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti or PCJSS report (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts) stated that all PCJSS members serving out terms in jail had been released. No dates were given for when they were released, although the information followed a narrative of events from 1998 to 1999.1

As of October of 1998, seven of the 22 jailed PCJSS members listed by the PCJSS were released. Four others were released after their cases had been withdrawn. Release orders were issued on 21 October for Milon Chakma, Nikhil Chakma, Apru Mong Master, Nil Chandra Tanchaingya, Amal Krishna, Usha Mong Marma, and Nagendra Tanchaingya.2

In 1998 the PCJSS turned in a list of 844 cases filed against 2,524 members to be withdrawn or dropped.3

A later PCJSS report stated that in 720 out of 839 cases, the decision made by the government to withdraw the legal case was not implemented. Given that all war prisoners were released, this appeared to be a matter of whether or not other criminal cases were officially dropped - which we must consider as another matter (degree of amnesty). There remained some ambiguous cases of PCJSS members who remained incarcerated; nevertheless, this provision appeared to have been fully implemented as of 1998 or early 1999.5

  • 1. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011.
  • 2. “Release of 7 PCJSS members ordered,” The Independent, October 21, 1998.
  • 3. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” (unpublished manuscript for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
  • 5. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011.
1999

Full Implementation

Some ambiguous cases of PCJSS members remained in 1999, but the overwhelming majority of war prisoners had been released as of 1998 or early 1999.6

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Amnesty

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

16. After the return of all JSS members to normal life general amnesty shall be given to them and the permanent residents who were involved in the activities of the JSS.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

 The government did release almost all war prisoners and declared amnesty for all those on the PCJSS troop list who turned in a weapon.

However, given the duration of the conflict, there were over one thousand criminal cases against 2,524 Jumma residents in prison or awaiting trial. In October 1998, the PCJSS turned in a list of 844 cases that should be withdrawn.1

  • 1. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.” (Unpublished manuscript for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
1999

Minimum Implementation

The government continued to review cases against Jumma residents in 1999 but no specific information was found on the number of withdrawn cases.

2000

Minimum Implementation

The government continued to review cases against Jumma residents in 2000 on a case by case basis. No specific information was found on the number of cases withdrawn this year.

2001

Minimum Implementation

No specific information was found on the number of cases withdrawn this year.

2002

Minimum Implementation

Chowdhury reports that, as of 2002, of the roughly one thousand cases involving JSS members in the courts, the government had withdrawn or dismissed 461 cases or 45 percent.2

  • 2. Ibid, 24.
2003

Minimum Implementation

 On 2 December 2003, the Chairman of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, gave a press conference calling on the government withdraw cases remaining in military courts against members of the PCJSS and their relatives."3

  • 3. “Tribal leader demands withdrawal of Bangladeshi camps from Chittagong,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 3, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

Refugees

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

Approximately 70,000 indigenous people fled to the Indian state of Tripura during the insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, with another 100,000 internally displaced persons within Bangladesh. Although the repatriation efforts had already been ongoing for years, the CHT Accord established a Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to expedite the repatriation process. The Government of Bangladesh signed a 20-point aid package agreement in 1997 in which it committed itself to providing food assistance, house-building money, and livestock to returning refugees. Most of the refugees did return to Bangladesh; however, a majority became IDPs because their land or houses were occupied and the land restitution program was not implemented.1

The repatriation of the Jumma or Chakma refugees was an antecedent to the signing of the Accord, which took place on 02 December 1997. Starting in April, nearly 11,000 refugees had returned home at the signing of the agreement.2 In a period of 15 days, starting on November 21 and ending December 6, a total of 13,024 tribal refugees making up 2,547 families returned to the CHT from different refugee camps in the Indian state of Tripura. As of December 6, the number of remaining refugees was estimated to be around 44,359 in six refugee camps in Tripura.3 According to reports from a December 1997 meeting of the Awami League and the tribal refugee welfare association, around 31,000 refugees remained in the refugee camps in Tripura at the time of the meeting. The sixth and final phase of the repatriation process from the Tripura camps began in January 1998.4

From January 1 to January 9, 1998, a total of 7,916 Chakma refugees returned to the CHT.5 In the first few days of February, some 1,025 tribal refugees returned from refugee camps.6 In February and March, an estimated 10,000 tribal people from the Indian state of Mizoram crossed into southeastern Bangladesh. Many of these refugees “had found their abandoned homes taken over.”7

  • 1. See provision for Economic and Social Development.
  • 2. “Government and rebels sign accord to end insurgency,” Associated Press Worldstream, December 2, 1997.
  • 3. “Bangladeshi refugees eager to return home from India,” Xinhua News Agency, December 6, 1997.
  • 4. “Last phase of repatriation of Chakma tribals begins 1st January,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 31, 1997.
  • 5. “Nearly 8,000 refugees repatriated to Bangladesh.” Xinhua News Agency, 10 January 1998.
  • 6. “1,000 Bangladeshi refugees return home from India,” Xinhua News Agency, February 2, 1998.
  • 7. “10,000 Mizoram refugees cross into Bangladesh,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 26, 1998.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

 According to the chairman of the Task Force in August of 1999, 80 percent of the repatriated tribals received their aid package.8

  • 8. “80 pct of repatriated tribals rehabilitated in Bangladesh,” Xinhua News Agency, August 4, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

In 2000, the Task Force on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons submitted a list of indigenous families and Bengali families to be rehabilitated. The PCJSS and Jumma Refugee Welfare Association rejected the list because it contained thousands of Bengali settlers who came to the CHT during the transmigration programs of 1979 to 1984. When the government members would not agree to exclude Bengalis from the refugee list, the PCJSS and the Jumma Refugee Welfare Association boycotted the Task Force, thereby effectively shutting it down.9

  • 9. "Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997, submitted by the Special Rapporteur," UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 201, accessed November 18, 2014, http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dbfb1262.html.
2001

Minimum Implementation

Tribal groups in India’s north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh threatened to use any measures necessary to force the remaining 50,000 Buddhist Chakma refugees back to Bangladesh if New Delhi failed to act.10

  • 10. “Indian tribal group vows to force 50,000 refugees back to Bangladesh,” Agence France Presse, January 13, 2001.
2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments on Jumma refugees in 2002. Bangladesh experienced terrible floods in the year which trumped all media coverage of the repatriation program and produced thousands of additional displaced persons. 

2003

Minimum Implementation

Although the repatriation from Tripura was complete, several sources indicated that most of those that returned were now internally displaced. The Dhaka Daily Star reported that the government had decided to stop giving food rations to “65, 000 indigenous people who became refugees in CHT after returning from the Indian state Tripura following the 1997 peace accord.” The tribal refugees were still awaiting the return of their lands being occupied by Bengali settlers and demanded the government to relocate the settlers elsewhere. The government’s sympathies appeared to have been with the Bengali settlers. The Daily Star reported that the prime minister was finalizing a plan to “give permanent resident status to over 26,000 families of Bengali settlers living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).”11 

On 2 December 2003, the Chairman of CHT Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, gave a press conference calling on the government to fully implement the 1997 agreement. Larma called on the government to rehabilitate the 3,055 tribal families who had returned to the CHT to find their lands occupied. Around 40 Jumma villages remained occupied according to Larma’s report.12

  • 11. “Bangladesh to give Bengali families permanent resident status in CHT,” Xinhua General News Service, September 23,  2003.
  • 12. “Tribal leader demands withdrawal of Bangladeshi camps from Chittagong,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 3, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

India’s Arunachal Pradesh's ruling Congress party pledged to deport/evict all of the 60,000 Bangladeshi tribal refugees remaining in India if voted to power in assembly elections.13

  • 13. “Chakma refugees in a fix over whom to vote,” Indo-Asian News Service, September 28, 2004.
2005

Minimum Implementation

New refugee camps were established in 2005 in the CHT tracts for thousands of returning tribal residents who are landless. The BBC reported that a six-member team from the European Union (EU) had visited several refugee camps in the CHT region. The team went to the Rohingya refugee camp, the Kutupalong of camp, the Nayapara camp in Teknaf, and a newly-set up camp at Korontali.14

  • 14. “EU team visits Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, November 9, 2005.
2006

Minimum Implementation

Speaking at a national press club meeting on the 9th anniversary of the 1997 Peace Accord, Chittagong Hill Tracts leader Shantu Larma warned that another guerrilla war in the CHT was inevitable due to lack of implementation of the treaty and army oppression in the CHT. In his speech titled "Land dispute in the hills, IDPs and implanting the peace treaty" he deplored the lack of land resolution for tribal IDPs and the legal re-settlement of Bengali settlers in the CHT by the government in violation of the treaty.15

  • 15. “Bangladesh indigenous leader warns of guerrilla war in hills,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, December 2,  2006.
2007

Minimum Implementation

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues reported that 9,700 families were not able to reclaim their land or houses because the property was occupied by Bengali settlers or military personnel. We do not know exactly how many individuals this translates into. According to Begum (2004), the average family size in rural Bangladesh was 4.59 persons, which yields a rough estimate of 44,500 persons (9,700*4.59) falling in the semi-rehabilitated status.16 According to the CHT Returnee Jumma Refugees' Welfare Association (CHTRJRWA) and a PCJSS report, 12,222 families returned to the CHT and 9,780 families were not able to recover their lands and were living in camps on government food rations.17

  • 16. UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.
  • 17. “Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011, accessed December 13, 2012.
Internally Displaced Persons

D) REHABILITATION, GENERAL AMNESTY AND OTHER MATTERS

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord set up a Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons for the purpose of monitoring and coordinating this process with the government. By and large, the international refugees (in Tripura) were treated as a priority and aid packages facilitated their return to Bangladesh; however, a large percentage, possibly over sixty percent, were unable to reclaim their property. Just as the majority of refugees were unable to reclaim their property, the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) met with very little practical success also. The lack of progress on rehabilitation stemmed from implementation problems in areas of citizenship reform and land reform. IDPs could not be rehabilitated because government members and tribal members on the Task Force were never able to agree on who qualifies for IDP status, mainly due to the lack of implementation of citizenship reform. The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, maintained that the 1997 Accord excluded Bengalis from being re-settled to the CHT. The PCJSS demanded that only tribal people could be classified as IDPs and rehabilitated.1

These PCJSS claims rested on the assumption that citizenship reform, as called for by the Accord, would be fully implemented, vesting sole authority to issue “permanent residency certificates” with the tribal Circle Chiefs. This did not happen. Instead, Bengalis were being issued permanent residency certificates by CHT Deputy Commissioners who happened to be ethnic Bengalis. Thus, as IDPs, Bengalis were qualified to be rehabilitated to the lands titled to them by the Government of Bangladesh in the settler programs of the 1980s, while most tribal refugees received nothing as they lacked government issued titles to the lands they occupied decades earlier before the insurgency. 

In February and March, an estimated 10,000 tribal people from the Indian state of Mizoram crossed into southeastern Bangladesh. Many of these refugees “had found their abandoned homes taken over.”2 

  • 1. "Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997, submitted by the Special Rapporteur," UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011, accessed November 19, 2014, http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dbfb1262.html.
  • 2. “10,000 Mizoram refugees cross into Bangladesh,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 26, 1998.
1999

Minimum Implementation

The chair of the Task Force reported that “a total of 152,000 families, of which 83,525 are tribals and 68,475 are non-tribals, from the three hill districts of rangamati, khagrachhari and bandarban (sic) have filled the government supplied forms to be entertained as internal refugees.” The chair indicated that non-tribals displaced by the insurgency would be treated as internal refugees if they could produce proper documentation of prior residency.3

  • 3. “80 pct of repatriated tribals rehabilitated in Bangladesh,” Xinhua News Agency, August 4, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

In 2000 the Task Force on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons submitted a list of 90,208 indigenous families and 38,156 Bengali families to be rehabilitated. The PCJSS and Jumma Refugee Welfare Association rejected the list because it contained Bengali settlers who came to the CHT during the transmigration program of 1979 to 1984. When the government members would not agree to exclude Bengalis, the PCJSS and the Jumma Refugee Welfare Association boycotted the Task Force, thereby shutting it down.

2001

Minimum Implementation

Tribal groups in India’s north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh threatened to use any measures necessary to force the remaining 50,000 Buddhist Chakma refugees back to Bangladesh if New Delhi failed to act.4

  • 4. “Indian tribal group vows to force 50,000 refugees back to Bangladesh,” Agence France Presse, January 13, 2001.
2002

Minimum Implementation

Bangladesh experienced terrible floods in 2002 that produced thousands of additional IDPs.

2003

Minimum Implementation

Although the repatriation of refugees from Tripura was complete, those that returned were now internally displaced. The Dhaka Daily Star reported that the government had decided to stop giving food rations to “65, 000 indigenous people who became displaced in the CHT after returning from the Indian state Tripura following the 1997 peace accord.” The tribal refugees were still awaiting the return of their lands being occupied by Bengali settlers and demanded the government to relocate the settlers elsewhere. The Daily Star reported that the prime minister was finalizing a plan to “give permanent resident status to over 26,000 families of Bengali settlers living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).”5

At a press conference, Larma called on the government to rehabilitate the 3,055 tribal families who had returned to the CHT to find their lands occupied. “Around 40 Jumma villages still remained occupied by the settlers”, according to Larma’s report.6

  • 5. “Bangladesh to give Bengali families permanent resident status in CHT,” Xinhua General News Service, September 23, 2003.
  • 6. “Tribal leader demands withdrawal of Bangladeshi camps from Chittagong,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 3, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

India’s Arunachal Pradesh's ruling Congress party pledged to deport/evict all of the 60,000 Bangladeshi tribal refugees if voted to power in assembly elections.7

  • 7. “Chakma refugees in a fix over whom to vote,” Indo-Asian News Service, September 28, 2004.
2005

Minimum Implementation

New refugee camps were being established in the CHT tracts for the thousands of landless tribal IDPS. The BBC reported that a six-member team from the European Union (EU) visited several refugee camps in the CHT region. The team went to the Rohingya refugee camp, the Kutupalong camp, the Nayapara camp in Teknaf, and a newly-set up camp at Korontali.8

  • 8. “EU team visits Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, November 9,  2005.
2006

Minimum Implementation

Speaking to the national press on the 9th anniversary of the 1997 Peace Accord, Chittagong Hill Tracts leader Shantu Larma warned that another guerrilla war in the CHT was inevitable due to lack of implementation of the treaty and army oppression in the CHT. In his speech titled "Land dispute in the hill, IDPs and implanting the peace treaty", he deplored the lack of land resolution for tribal IDPs and the legal re-settlement of Bengali settlers in the CHT by the government in violation of the treaty.9

  • 9. “Bangladesh indigenous leader warns of guerrilla war in hills,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, December 2, 2006.
2007

Minimum Implementation

According to the last report from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, “the definition of an internally displaced person is still unresolved and, consequently, this clause of the Accord remains substantially unimplemented” (2011).10 The same report stated that 9,700 families were not able to reclaim their land or houses because the property was occupied by Bengali settlers or military personnel. We do not know exactly how many individual people this translates into. According to Begum (2004), the average family size in rural Bangladesh was 4.59 persons, which yields a rough estimate of 44,500 persons (9,700*4.59) falling in the semi-rehabilitated status.11

According to the CHT Returnee Jumma Refugees' Welfare Association (CHTRJRWA), 9,780 out of the 12,222 families that had returned to the CHT were not able to recover their lands and were living in camps on government food rations.12

  • 10. "Study on the Status of Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997," U.N. Economic and Social Council (Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 10th Session), 14.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. “Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011. 
Indigenous Minority Rights

A) General

1. Both sides, considering CHT as Tribal Populated Region, recognized the necessity for protection of the character of this region and for overall development of it.

B) 33a: The following subjects shall be added in the No. 3 of the function of the Council- (1) Vocational training; (2) Primary education in mother tongue; (3) Secondary education.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

Clause 1 of the 1997 CHT Accord provided a one sentence synopsis of the purpose and intent of the 75 clauses that followed: to protect and preserve the rights of indigenous peoples in the CHT to their cultural property, identity, and language. To do that, the Accord put forth 72 articles that were intended to protect the Jumma population from violence, displacement and the larger trend of Islamization in the CHT.

If fully implemented the Accord’s specific stipulations would have provided self-determination to the Jumma community in the form of a Regional Council dominated by Tribal members, an overall electoral system that advantaged Jumma voters in general CHT elections, and the legal basis for providing land restitution to displaced Jummas. Across these fronts, beyond being ratified in 1998 by the parliament of Bangladesh under the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act of 1998 and in the amended version of the Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989, the new legislation has not been applied or legally enforced.1

  • 1. "Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act (Act 12 of 1998)," 1998.
1999

Minimum Implementation

The CHT Accord contained several amendments that were intended to put control over residency qualifications in the hands of Tribal leaders and the Regional Council and Hill Councils. The Accord granted special privileges to CHT “tribal permanent residents”. Only “tribal permanent residents” could serve as tribal members on the Hill District Councils and qualify for preferential treatment in higher education and employment as called for in the Accord. Also, only “permanent residents” of the CHT were allowed to vote in CHT elections and be rehabilitated in the land restitution program. Therefore, whoever controlled the issuing of the legal certificates granting permanent residency status in the CHT had an incredible amount of power in shaping the area’s future. 

New legislation was passed but was not applied. In the CHT, as in Bangladesh as a whole, the Deputy Commissioner (DC) had the power to issue permanent residency certificates, and the CHT Accord was designed to strip away this power.  Not only was it not revoked, the power of the DC to issue permanent residency in the CHT was reconfirmed in 1999. An official order from the CHT Ministry (HDC/Certificate/62/99-587) dated 1999 reiterated the authority of the DC to issue “Permanent Resident Certificate” in the CHT. 

Regarding the importance of land issues to the indigenous population of the CHT, one of the main themes of the 1997 Accord was land restitution and land use for Jummas who had lost much of their ancestral lands as a result of armed violence forcing them to flee, forceful evictions, and occupation by the military and government-sponsored Bengali migration and settlement. 

No progress or developments have been reported on resolving land disputes. The land restitution program could not be implemented without the implementation of citizenship reform as stipulated by the Accord. No voluntary relocation program for Bengalis was ever initiated by the government of Bangladesh, which continued to provide free food rations to somewhere between 27,000 to 50,000 thousand Bengali settlers in the CHT. This continued government support of the Bengali settlers in the CHT was noted as an “essential component in ensuring that Bengali settlers from the plains do not return to their original home regions.”2

Lastly, to protect and preserve the CHT as a “tribal populated region” with a “separate culture and tradition”, the 1997 Accord granted the Jumma community an unprecedented amount of autonomy and self-determination in the form of a Regional Council to be governed by a majority of tribal members. This Regional Council would effectively rule the CHT. The scope of powers that the 1997 Accord granted to the Regional Council, if fully implemented and enforced, would have yielded the highest level of autonomy possible, short of independence. Under the amended 1998 legislation, the functions of the Councils included: law, police, primary and secondary education, health, agriculture, game and fisheries, cooperatives, trade, commerce, social welfare, cultural protection, roads and highways, waterways, public parks, development, justice, land and land management, conservation, tourism, licensing, statistics, and banking. 

In May 1999, the 22-member interim CHT Regional Council was formally established in the southeastern hill district of Rangamati. However, all the members were appointed by the government of Bangladesh rather than elected since no acceptable voter registration list was available owing to the lack of progress on citizenship reform.3 The PCJSS reported that out of the 33 functions to be transferred to the HDCs, limited amounts were transferred in 12 functions (Agriculture, Health, Primary Education, Small Industry, Cooperatives, Social Welfare, Fishery, Livestock, Public Health, Culture, Sports, and Red Cross/Crescent Unit). Clause 35 listed 12 sources of taxable revenue to be transferred to the Councils. Of these 12 revenue sources, the PCJSS claimed that none of these revenues had been transferred to the Councils.4 As for the power of the Regional Council over CHT affairs, clause 9, section C of the Accord put the three HDCs under the authority of the Regional Council. It is evident that this relationship was not legally or judicially enforced. The HDCs were run by government appointees and did not follow the directives of the Regional Council. The Regional Council and the chairperson appear to have little real power on the other governing institutions in the CHT.5 

  • 2. International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2006, 371.
  • 3. “Interim Chittagong hill tracts council installed.” Xinhua News Agency, 27 May 1999.
  • 4. “Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011, 22-23.
  • 5. Ibid., 24-25.
2000

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

Citizenship Reform

B) Hill DISCRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

3. Who is not a tribal and possesses land legally in the Hill District and generally lives at a certain address in the Hill District he shall be meant 'non-tribal permanent resident'.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

 Citizenship reform was crucially important in the overall design of the CHT Accord. The CHT Accord contained several amendments pertaining to citizenship that were intended to grant control over citizenship qualifications for the CHT region to the Regional Council and Hill District Councils. The accord also granted special privileges to CHT “tribal permanent residents”: only they could serve as tribal members on the Hill District Councils (HDCs) and qualify for preferential treatment in higher education and employment (as called for in other parts of the CHT Accord). Also, only “permanent residents” of the CHT were allowed to vote in CHT elections and be rehabilitated in the land restitution program. Therefore, whoever controlled the issuing of the legal certificates granting permanent residency status in the CHT had an incredible amount of power in shaping the area’s future.

The CHT Accord in section B, amendments 3 and 4, part D, put the legal authority to grant permanent resident status and the power to certify people as “tribal” or “non-tribal” in the hands of the Circle Chiefs. The Jumma community and Jumma leaders had repeatedly indicated that in their view, the CHT Accord under section B granted both of these powers (determination of tribal or non-tribal and permanent resident certification) to the Circle Chiefs. The clear intention of section C, amendment 4 was to remove these powers from the Deputy Commissioners (DC) in the CHT region, all of whom were ethnic Bengalis, and transfer them to the tribal authorities.

The DC position in the CHT had a very long history that was especially relevant to this provision being negotiated. Historically, the DC position had been one of a powerful governor who was part of and reported to the national government. By usurping these defined powers over the granting of CHT citizenship, the tribal authorities would gain the legal authority to determine who qualified as a tribal or non-tribal resident and who qualified for permanent residency status in the CHT.

Implementation of these citizenship reforms has not taken place beyond being ratified in 1998 by the parliament of Bangladesh under the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act of 1998 and in the amended version of the Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989. The new legislation has not been applied or legally enforced.1

1999

Minimum Implementation

The traditional powers of the DC remain intact. Not only have they not been revoked, the powers of the DC to issue permanent residency was reconfirmed in government documents. An official order from the CHT Ministry (HDC/Certificate/62/99-587) dated 1999 reiterated the authority of the DC to issue “Permanent Resident Certificate” in the CHT. The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, would not agree to elections because non-permanent Bengali residents in the CHT remain on the voter lists.2

  • 2. "Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997, submitted by the Special Rapporteur," ECOSOC (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011, accessed November 17, 2014, http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dbfb1262.html.
2000

Minimum Implementation

Given the language of the amendments, the most observable indicator of both implementation status and the extent to which the government was following the new legislation is the degree to which the power over issuing citizenship certificates had been transferred from the Deputy Commissioner over to the Tribal authorities. Both direct and indirect evidence strongly suggests that the DC has the power to issue permanent residency certificates. The “Charter of Duties” for Deputy Commissioners (No. CD/DA-1/4(2)/83 (PT.11)-465 DT.10-11-1983) listed the authority to issue “domicile certificates” under section 11, sub-section five as of this year and after.3

2001

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Minimum Implementation

Another official government document issued by the Ministry of Health (31/2008/713) required tribal residents to show evidence of a permanent resident certificate issued by both the “Circle Chief” and the “Deputy Commissioner.” In contrast, Bengalis needed only to show one permanent resident certificate, which had to be issued by the DC. Hence, this suggests that the government had interpreted and implemented the statutes in such a way as to make it more difficult for a tribal to get a permanent residency certificate than a Bengali settler. A tribal person was not legally treated as a permanent resident if they only had a certificate issued by the Circle Chief.

The Regional Council unsuccessfully fought for the exclusive right to issue permanent resident certificates for over a decade, arguing that the Accord put this power in the hands of the HDCs.4

Economic and Social Development

B) Hill DISCRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

26: By amendment of the section 64 the following sub-sections shall be made:

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

Reflecting the importance of land issues to the indigenous population of the CHT, one of the main themes of the 1997 Accord was land restitution and land use. Over the course of the last several decades, the indigenous peoples of the CHT had lost much of their ancestral lands as a result of armed violence forcing them to flee, forceful evictions, occupation by the military, and government-sponsored Bengali migration and settlement. 

Implementation should be evaluated in light of the scope of powers over land issues transferred to the Council by the CHT Accord. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Amendment 26 were all changed in the Hill Council Acts of 1998. To understand the scope of land issues that the Accord transferred to the CHT, a few legislative changes should be discussed in detail. 

The original Rangamati HDC Act of 1989 read as follows:

"Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, no land within the boundaries of Rangamati Hill District shall be given in settlement without the prior approval of the Council and such land cannot be transferred to a person who is not a domicile of the said district without such approval: Provided that, this provision shall not be applicable in case of areas within the Protected and Reserved forests, Kaptai Hydroelectricity Project, Betbunia Earth Satellite Station, land transferred in Government and Public interest, land or forest required for state purposes." 

Act number 9 passed in 1998 substantially changed this section with the addition and deletion of various phrases. The new section now reads as follows: 

"64. Restriction on land transfer. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force- (a) no land including the khasland (sic) suitable for settlement within the jurisdiction of Rangamati Hill District shall be leased out, settled with, purchased, sold out or transferred otherwise with the prior approval of the Council; Provided that, this provision shall not be applicable in case of Reserved forests, Kaptai Hydroelectricity Project area, Betbunia Earth Satellite Station, state-owned industries land recorded with the Government. (b) No land, hills and forests under the control and jurisdiction of the Council shall be acquired or transferred without consultation and consent of the Council. (2) The Council shall supervise and control the functions of Headmen, Chainmen, Amins, Surveyors, Kanungos and Assistant Commissioners (land). (3) Fringe land in Kaptai lake (sic) shall be settled with the original owners on the priority basis (sic)."

Most notable among these changes were the new categories of land transactions that had come under the control of the Tribal Council. The original 1989 Act stated that no land could be “given in settlement” without the approval of the Council and if such land were given, the recipient had to be a domicile of the CHT (not a migrant). The new language inserted from the 1997 Peace Accord essentially put all land transactions, even private commercial transactions between CHT residents, under the control of the Council. Under the new language, no land could be bought, sold, or leased anywhere in the Chittagong Hill Tracts without the approval of the Land Commission. The 1997 Accord established a special Land Commission with a mandate to settle the land disputes, including the authority to deny rights of property ownership that were gained illegality. There were no reports of the Land Commission meeting in this year.

1999

Minimum Implementation

The first Chairperson of the Land Commission was appointed in 1999, a year after the signing of the Accord. Mired in the complexity of the land situation in the CHT, the Land Commission was not functional. Its mandate and responsibilities were, in many ways, incompatible. For example, the commission was mandated to settle disputes over who is currently entitled to tracts of land where indigenous inhabitants are said to have been displaced decades earlier, many without legal titles. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Bengali settlers, who had been given a legal title to land in the CHT by the government, could not be expected to give up their families’ land. Even if the Land Commission was able to legally annul land titles held by Bengalis, which the government, by all indications, would not allow to happen, there still existed no real enforcement mechanism to make them vacate the property. The police and civil administration of the CHT remained in the hands of the Bengalis and the military.

2000

Minimum Implementation

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, appointed to head the Regional Council in 1999, told AFP in an interview in April 2000 that he felt betrayed and frustrated by the slow pace of implementation of the 1997 agreement. Land disputes and land issues were again presented as one of the biggest problems. According to Larma, "A sense of frustration is again growing among the tribesmen as the government is yet to comply with the major conditions of the treaty, including settlement of land disputes."1

  • 1. “Rebel-turned pro-government tribal leader in Bangladesh feels betrayed,” Agence France Presse, April 20, 2000.
2001

Minimum Implementation

The Bangladeshi parliament passed The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act of 2001. The Jumma community rejected the act and the Land Dispute Commission for several reasons. First, they saw the act as an attempt to legally justify the illegal possession of Jumma lands by Bengali settlers. Second, the act gave the Chairperson the final word on land disputes in the event of a lack of consensus among other members. Third, the act excluded internally displaced Jummas from the ambit of the Land Commission.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No further developments occurred this year. 

2003

Minimum Implementation

The Dhaka Daily Star reported that the government had decided to stop giving food rations to “65, 000 indigenous people who became refugees in CHT after returning from the Indian state Tripura following the 1997 peace accord” (Xinhua General News Service, 2003). The tribal refugees “are still awaiting the return of their lands occupied by the Bengali settlers, and demand the government to rehabilitate the settlers elsewhere.” However, the government’s sympathies appeared to have been with the Bengali settlers. The Daily Star reported that the Prime Minister was finalizing a plan to “give permanent resident status to over 26,000 families of Bengali settlers living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)."2

On 2 December 2003, the Chairman of CHT Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, gave a press conference calling on the government to fully implement the 1997 agreement. Larma called on the government to rehabilitate the 3,055 tribal families who returned to the CHT to find their lands occupied. “Around 40 Jumma villages still remained occupied by the settlers.”3

  • 2. “Bangladesh to give Bengali families permanent resident status in CHT,” Xinhua General News Service, September 23, 2003.
  • 3. “Tribal leader demands withdrawal of Bangladeshi camps from Chittagong,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 3, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

The Land Commission was not functional in 2004 and no further developments were reported on land issues. At a 2004 conference at Dhaka university, Dr. Harun-ur Rashid, the dean of social sciences, stated that Bengali settlers continued to migrate to the CHT on a daily basis and that the ratio of indigenous peoples to Bengali settlers in 2004 was roughly 55:45.4

  • 4. “Bangladeshi government urged to implement CHT Accord,” The Daily Star, December 10, 2004.
2005

Minimum Implementation

In January 2005 Bengali Muslim settlers from Maischari cluster village in Khagrachari district, aided by the army stationed in the CHT, built houses on the recorded lands of indigenous Jummas at Gamaridhala in the Khagrachari district according to a letter dated January 2005 by Ushatan Talukder, the Secretary for Political Affairs of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS).5

  • 5. Ushatan Talukder, “Chittagong Hill Tracts Issue and Post-Accord Situation,” Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), February 10, 2005, access January 4, 2012, http://www.unpo.org/article/1927.
2006

Minimum Implementation

No progress or developments were reported on resolving land disputes. Sadly, the end result of decades of Bengali migration and displacement of the indigenous population was not compatible with the political vision of restoring traditional land use in the CHT to the indigenous peoples. Several hundred thousand Bengali inhabitants of CHT land stood as concrete obstacles to that political vision. No voluntary relocation program for Bengalis was ever initiated by the government of Bangladesh. In contrast, the government continued to provide free food rations to anywhere from 27, 000 to 50,000 Bengali settlers in the CHT. This continued government support to the Bengali settlers in the CHT was noted in 2006 as an “essential component in ensuring that Bengali settlers from the plains do not return to their original home regions.”6

The latest PCJSS report stated that 5,130 acres of land in Bandarban, 25,375 acres of land in Lama, 6,397 acres in Alikadam, and 3,175 acres in Naikhyangchari had been leased by the government of Bangladesh or the District Commissioner to firms without the consent of the Council. In addition to leases, the government had also acquired a total of 94,066 acres across 7 different upazilas in the CHT.7

  • 6. International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2006, 371.
  • 7. "Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord," PCJSS, 2011, 20.
2007

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed. 

Verification/Monitoring Mechanism

A) General

3. With an aim to observe the implementation process of this agreement an Implementation Committee shall be formed with the persons stated below:

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord called for the formation of an internal verification committee to monitor and report on the implementation of the Accord. The Accord Implementation Committee was initiated in 1998 and comprised of a member nominated by the Prime Minister, the Chairperson of the Task Force on Refugees, and Shantu Larma, President of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS.1

Operationally, the committee was barely functional: several meetings were said to have been held from March to November.2 No recommendations or reports were released to the press or made publically available.

  • 1. "Study on the Status of Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997," U.N. Economic and Social Council, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 10th Session (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011.
  • 2. “Politics-Bangladesh: Peace Deal To End Tribal Insurgency Derails,” IPS-Inter Press Service, November 30, 1998.
1999

Minimum Implementation

There were no reports indicating that the Accord Implementation Committee met this year. 

2000

Minimum Implementation

There were no reports indicating that the Accord Implementation Committee met this year.

2001

Minimum Implementation

It was reported that the Implementation Committee met twice in 2001, with the last meeting being held on 1 July 2001. After the Bangladesh National Party, who displayed hostility to the Accord, won control of the government in a landslide election in 2001, the verification committee did not hold any further meetings.3

  • 3. “An Audit on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” Bangladesh Adivasi Resource Centre, 2011. 
2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

 

Postscript: The verification committee was reestablished in 2009 after the election of the Awami League and held several meetings over the span of three years.4

  • 4. "Study on the Status of Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997," U.N. Economic and Social Council, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 10th Session (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011, 9.
Withdrawal of Troops

D) Rehabilitation, general amnesty and other matters

Section 17:

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

Ending the occupation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) by national military forces was a core objective of the December 1997 Accord. News sources inside Bangladesh reported in 1998 that one third of the Bangladeshi national army was stationed in the CHT.1 Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Kalparanjan Chakma, speaking on the one year anniversary of the accord in December of 1998, indicated that some military camps had been closed.2

  • 1. "Politics-Bangladesh: Peace Deal To End Tribal Insurgency Derails," IPS-Inter Press Service, November 30, 1998.
  • 2. "Former tribal rebels grumble on first anniversary of peace pact" Agence France Presse, December 1, 1998.
1999

Minimum Implementation

Shantu Larma, the head of the interim tribal council, criticized the Bangladesh government for not withdrawing military troops from the CHT. The news report stated that some 20,000 government troops were stationed in the CHT based on security sources.3 On the second anniversary of the CHT Accord, Larma emphasized that the withdrawal of Bangladeshi soldiers from the CHT had not taken place and only 60 military camps out of 500 had been removed.4

  • 3. "Bangladesh's new tribal council chief blasts govt over military," Agence France Presse, May 27, 1999.
  • 4. "Former rebel warns of tribal trouble on two-year peace pact anniversary," Agence France Presse, December 2, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

Regional Council Chief Shantu Larma criticized the government for violating the Accord by leasing out some 18,000 hectares of land in the CHT for army bases in the year 2000.5 According to a government spokesperson, 70 army camps had been removed from the CHT and more were scheduled to be removed.6

  • 5. "Brittle Peace with Former Rebels," IPS-Inter Press Service, October 31, 2000.
  • 6. Ibid.
2001

Minimum Implementation

 A report on the CHT Accord put the number of army camps that had been removed up to approximately this point at thirty-five.7

  • 7. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” (unpublished manuscript for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
2002

Minimum Implementation

No further information is found on the number of camps removed. In the meanwhile, the military has built new camps in the CHT since the Accord.8

2003

Minimum Implementation

On 2 December 2003, the Chairman of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya (Shantu) Larma, gave a press conference calling on the government to fully implement the 1997 agreement. Larma emphasized several pressing areas: "We demand withdrawal of all temporary army camps from CHT and appointment of a full minister of the CHT affairs within 31 December.” According to Larma, the CHT remained under army rule as the government had yet to close or remove some 469 out of 500 temporary army camps in the CHT.9

  • 9. "Tribal leader demands withdrawal of Bangladeshi camps from Chittagong," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 3, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

A 2004 report stated that 450 military camps remained in the districts of Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachhari.10

  • 10. "Bangladesh: Peace Threatens To Come Apart In Restive Hills," IPS-Inter Press Service, January 5, 2004.
2005

Minimum Implementation

According to a PCJSS report, new army camps were established in 2005 at Betchari of Tarasa under Rowangchari upazila and at Bangalhalia bazar under Rajasthali upazila.11

  • 11. "Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord," PCJSS, 2011.
2006

Minimum Implementation

As of 2006, the military was still heavily involved in the administration of the CHT and the majority of military camps had not been removed. One report on the implementation of the Accord indicated that 152 of 543 camps had been withdrawn.12 The PCJSS claimed that around 31 military camps out of 500 have been removed from the CHT. The government claimed that 172 camps had been removed. Given these estimates, 66% to 94% of military camps have not been removed from the CHT.13

  • 12.  Pranab Kumar Panday and Ishtiaq Jamil, "Conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh: An Unimplemented Accord and Continued Violence," Asian Survey  49, no. 6(2009): 1063.
  • 13. "Report on the Status of Implementation of the CHT Accord," PCJSS, 2011.
2007

Minimum Implementation

Concluding its final report on the CHT Accord, the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stated that, “with its pervasive power and influence over Bangladesh society in general and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in particular, the army continues to oppose any substantive progress on the implementation of the Accord.” The same report went on to conclude that “[R]ather than a diminishing of the powers of the military in the region in accordance with the Accord…there has been a further strengthening of the control of the military.”13

  • 13. "Study on the Status of Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997," U.N. Economic and Social Council, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 10th Session  (E/C.19/2011/6), February 18, 2011,  16.

Please always cite: Peace Accords Matrix (Date of retrieval: (12/11/2017),
http://peaceaccords.nd.edu/accord/chittagong-hill-tracts-peace-accord-cht,
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame.