Michael Chakma, also central general secretary of the United Workers’ Democratic Front (UWDF),went missing from Narayanganj on April 9
The family and allies of Michael Chakma, a United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) leader, who disappeared 11 days ago, demanded his safe return on Saturday.
Michael Chakma, also central general secretary of the United Workers’ Democratic Front (UWDF),went missing from Narayanganj on April 9.
A press conference jointly organized by the UWDF, Ganatantrik Jubo Forum, Pahari Chattra Parishad (PCP), and Hill Women’s Federation took place at the National Press Club on Saturday morning.
UWDF Assistant General Secretary Pramod Jyoti Chakma read out a written statement on behalf of the four organizations.
Expressing concern over the Michael’s disappearance, Pramod Jyoti said that lowlands were no longer safe for “hill people”, especially leadership figures who actively campaign for the rights of hill people.
He said the arrest of Democratic Jubo Forum office Secretary Ripon Chakma and PCP Central leader Sunil Chakma without any warrant in Dhaka validates the statement. He also said the arrest of Sukriti Chakma and two others in Chittagong last year also justifies the concerns.
In the statement, he alleged that some law enforcement agencies are hindering the peace process in the hill tracts by arresting the UPDF members without cause and abducting and murdering the leaders.
Responding to a question, PCP General Secretary Sunayan Chakma said there were suspicions that any law enforcement agency could have picked Michael up as it has been witnessed before. He noted that this is only a suspicion and law enforcement agencies could also not be involved.
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“In that case, it is the government’s duty to find and return him unharmed.”
Pramod Jyoti said the government is responsible for protecting each and every citizen.
“If the government fails to find and return him safe and sound, they have to take the responsibility."
He placed four demands – finding and returning Michael Chakma immediately, stopping state-sponsored murder and disappearances, ensuring favourable environment for practicing democracy, and stopping all sort of oppression in the hill tracts.
Democratic Youth Forum Central General Secretary Jiko Tripura, Hill Women Federation Central General Secretary Monty Chakma and Michael’s sister Suvodra Chakma were also present at the press conference.
Suvodra urged the government to return her brother safely to the family.