A Cry for Change and Unity running high in the CHT

The children of Ms Buddhapati Chakma, who was shot dead in 2010 by Bangladeshi law enforcers in CHT

By Radhamon

Not long ago, they were calling each other murderers, terrorists and all things bad. But we have seen the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled have just forged an alliance through the formation of a unity government. What does it shows? Even the worst enemies can shake hands and embrace each other one day. My point here is that we can also turn the page on this black internal division amongst us. It is possible. The warring Palestinian factions did it. The Nagas and many other groups are also working towards unification. YES, WE ALSO CAN!

A successful revolutionary movement has to take place both inside and outside the CHT at different levels. While we shall fight out in the hills with fists, bricks, stones and guns we need the fight to be taken to the right thinking people of the free world for their support and sympathy. Internationally, the CHT has to be recognized as a conflict—not a conflict between us but a conflict between the indigenous peoples at one side and the state of Bangladesh on the other.

We can hope to bolster our case at the international level only when we can fight for our cause as one unified people and not different conflicting groups. I will tell you of one incident from years ago that happened in the corridors of the United Nations headquarter in New York. We have had three different representations from three groups in the C.H.T. Two of them spoke on similar (but often refuting each other) lines and the representation made by the third representative was different from the ones made by the others. Little wonder the high ranking UN official who was (and still is) a Chakma sympathizer was bemused. Those individuals who were involved in this particular incident will still remember this shameful experience. That UN official called all the three of them in one room and bluntly told them “My friends, please first set your house in order and then come back to me”. Out of shame and embarrassment one of the representatives (a young Chakma lady then) broken down into tears!

Sadly, we never seem to be inclined towards learning these simple valuable lessons. We never managed to put our house on order. And, the conflicts and divisions continue unabated. Precious time and lives were lost. The movement came to a standstill and almost in jeopardy. That is not how and why the C.H.T. movement started in the 1970s!

Yet, for the first time since 1997 many of us seem to have started to speak with a single voice. Many of us seem to have realized the futility of a movement without unity among us. The social media revolution has played a key role so has the anti-regime movements that swelled across the middle-east in recent times. The internet has provided our youths with a platform to exchange views and experiences with each other transcending boundaries. Positive stories coming from the other side of the borders from our youths in Mizoram and tripura and other places has also bolstered this hope of a united future with all of us in it. But we need to get this message and call for unity into the doorsteps of the people who matters; our present leadership.

Lets our leadership throw the towel and see this as an opportunity to be seized. The people’s voice is loud and clear: we want no more fights amongst ourselves. We call for UNIFICATION and RECONCILIATION of all the groups!

Will our present leadership show courage and maturity and compromise on their ideologies, comforts and interests (vested) for the greater good of our people?? They must not lose this opportunity. They must take the bull by the horns!

Internationally, we are gaining sympathy and this will continue if we give a good account of our strength in unity in this fight against the government. The anti-Jummo agenda of the government will get more aggressive in the days ahead as the call for recognition of indigenous identity of the CHT peoples gains momentum. The more Jummas are killed, the more Jumma houses are burnt, the more our women are raped the more sympathy we will gain in the international community and in the eyes of the free and right thinking people of the world. Let’s together dare and challenge the government of Bangladsh to continue its policy of destroying us!!

Interestingly, such a development of a process of unification is bound to prompt Prime Minister Hasina and her advisors in the government to reach out to the CHT peoples. But this time we shall bargain hard and level score for the disappointment of 1997 inflicted on us.

A united CHT will be strong enough to make the country bleed. A united CHT indigenous leadership cannot be arm twisted by Hasina nor anyone in Bangladesh like they are doing to the present CHT leadership.

Across the Middle East the Arab Awakening has galvanized young activists who chafe at the status quo. That has brought regime change and chaos in many countries. That cry for change is also sweeping the West Bank and Gaza. And, I can also see this cry of change in our youths today both inside the C.H.T. and outside of it. The mood is the same all around Facebook and in the blogosphere and in news portals. Our youth brigade has started to take on this fight head on. Our youth brigade has also started to take on the many pseudo C.H.T.  Bengali experts writing for mainstream Bengali media. Our youths are showing glimpses of courage, determination and wisdom that is necessary for a successful movement. UNITY is all that we need now! Unity is the only small spark that we need to ignite this fire that is already burning in all our hearts.

Brothers and sisters, it is time we revive our movement again. This is the idea whose time has come now for us to give another push for freedom and to claim our motherland back from Bangladesh. Are our leaders listening??

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