Demographic invasion and ethnic cleansing in CHT continues

By Nikhil Chakma

There are three Hill Districts in CHT, namely Rangamati Hill District (housing the main township of CHT), Khagrachari Hill District and Bandarban Hill District. Each Hill District is headed by an administrative officer called Deputy Commissioner (DC), as the British called it during their colonial rule (1860-1946) in the region. No officers from amongst the indigenous people have been appointed to these posts since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971 despite availability of qualified indigenous candidates for the same.

After the 1997 CHT Accord, the Government of Bangladesh has authorized each DC through an order to issue "permanent residence certificate" to non-indigenous and non-permanent residents (Bengali Muslim settlers) settled and settling from other parts of Bangladesh in CHT. It violates

(1) The 1900 CHT Regulation which bans permanent settlement of "outsiders" (people other than indigenous people of the region) in CHT. The Regulation was incorporated into the 1997 CHT Accord with some other amendments.

(2) The CHT Accord which says that only the three traditional Chiefs of the ingenious people of the three Hill Districts can issue "permanent residence certificate" to permanent residents of the region.

The Government, on the other hand, continues to non-comply with the CHT Accord provisions which speak of filling in all posts and services of the CHT Local Government, including formation of a local police force, with permanent indigenous and non-indigenous residents giving priority to the first.

Thus the Government of Bangladesh has removed all legal and administrative hurdles for continuous and uninterrupted flow of settlement of non-indigenous people in CHT as part of its demographic invasion and ethnic cleansing agenda against the indigenous people.

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