The Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) has called for an independent investigation into the alleged abduction of the two Marma sisters and the physical assault on Chakma Queen Yan Yan.
In a press release on Sunday, the commission expressed their shock at the alleged abduction of the two teenage Marma girls by members of security forces on February 15 “in the name of handing them over to their parents.”
The two girls, who were allegedly sexually assaulted on January 22, were undergoing medical treatment at Rangamati General Hospital (RGH).
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According to the release, Queen Yan Yan and another volunteer, who were looking after the welfare of the girls, were physically assaulted by a group of masked men and women when they tried to prevent the girls’ abduction on February 15.
CHTC is concerned that the girls were taken into the custody of a former member of the Rangamati Hill District Council, at his residence in Rangamati town, against their will.
On January 22, one of the Marma sisters was allegedly raped and the other sexually assaulted by some security forces members in the middle of the night at Orachhari village of Farua union in Belaichhari upazila. Later, they were admitted to RGH.
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The press release says the security forces continued to intimidate the girls and their family following the attack – “instead of providing them with the legal and emotional support that survivors of violence need, the security forces kept them under their strict surveillance.”
It adds that no action has yet been taken against the two alleged perpetrators.
One of CHTC’s advisers, Meghna Guhathakurta, published a Facebook post on Saturday with details of the attack on Yan Yan and a volunteer, who were allegedly beaten and dragged down the flights of the hospital: “They kicked and punched Yan Yan and one of the volunteers, who were both thrown to the ground and beaten further. The volunteer was not only beaten, but also sexually molested by the men, while the women held her and dragged her down the stairs.”
CHTC demanded an independent, neutral, and appropriately mandated commission of inquiry be constituted and those who carried out the sexual assault of the Marma girls be identified, prosecuted, and punished. They want those who abducted the girls and attacked Rani Yan Yan be brought to justice.
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They further demanded that the state ensure the security of the girls along with the Chakma Raj family.
The press release was signed by CHTC co-chairs Sultana Kamal, Elsa Stamatopoulou, and Myrna Cunningham Kain.
Naripokkho, a women's rights organization, also issued a statement yesterday, demanding necessary legal steps over the sexual assault of the Marma sisters and the attack on the Chakma Queen.
Signed by Tamanna Khan of Naripokkho, the statement urged all those concerned, including those in the government, to make sure that the perpetrators of the rape and the attack incidents cannot evade the law with the help of influential people.
Naripokkho also underlined the role of the local administration and the police during those incidents, saying: “Many times in the past, we have seen such examples of apathy shown by the administration and the law enforcement agencies in performing their duties that it leaves scope for the perpetrators or attackers to conduct more criminal activities.”
In addition to the apathy of the administration and the police, absence of injustice, corruption, and the lack of rule of law have been responsible for the repetition of such heinous incidents, it added.