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Santu Larma: Fair election impossible in Chittagong Hill Tracts

  • Published at 07:24 pm November 29th, 2018
web-santu-larma-press-briefing-dhaka-mehedi-hasan-29.11.2018
Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) President Santu Larma addresses a press conference in Dhaka, held to mark the 21st anniversary of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, on Thursday, November 29, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

If the tension in the hills continues, it will have an impact on the upcoming election, says the PCJSS chief

Activists of Chittagong Hill Tracts-based ethnic political parties are facing harassment during security forces’ joint drives being carried out to recover illegal arms and weapons ahead of the 11th general elections, Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) President Santu Larma has alleged.

The drives intensified against PCJSS men after the election schedule was declared, he said at a press conference held in Dhaka, marking the 21st anniversary of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, on Thursday.

“This is happening for the benefit of the ruling party candidate. Under the circumstances, the present situation is not suitable to hold a free, fair, and acceptable election in the hill districts,” he said.

He added that the locals in the three hill districts were also being harassed at newly set up check posts on the roads and it must stopped.

“If the tension in the hills continues, it will have an impact on the election,” he said.

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, also expressed concern over the torture, murder, and rape of people from different ethnic minority communities in the hill districts in recent months.

“The government want the ethnic community eliminated from the country,” he alleged.

Responding to a query, he said that PCJSS would not hold its breath and expect any major political party to include their demands for the complete implementation of the CHT Peace Accord in their electoral manifestos or pledges.

“In the past elections, the same pledges were made by parties like Awami League and BNP, but nobody met our demands and implemented the accord fully.

“The current government, since it came to power in 2009, has also done nothing but dishonour the accord by not implementing it entirely, leaving the problems of the hills unsolved.”

The Bangladesh government  signed a peace treaty with the PCJSS on December, 2, 1997, bringing an end to the decades-long insurgency and conflict between the Shanti Bahini and security forces in the CHT.

Santu Larma on Thursday also said that two-thirds of the recommendations of the accord were yet to be implemented, while the government was implementing some agendas that go against the accord.

He said the government had been spreading propaganda at home and abroad that 48 of the accord’s 72 sections were implemented, and the rest would be implemented before its term ends.

“But the reality is, only 25 recommendations from the accord have been implemented so far. Of the fundamental issues, two-thirds is not executed yet.”

The PCJSS in April 2015, he said, had submitted a report on the situation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but no visible steps were taken.