Bangladesh to implement peace deal with Buddhist tribals

IANS, January 30, 2009

Dhaka, Bangladesh -- The Bangladesh government plans to amend the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land Commission to ensure a better deal for the Buddhist tribals and implement the peace accord signed in 1997, a minister said.

“The government is going to implement the peace accord soon,” junior minister for CHT affairs Dipangkar Talukdar said, but gave no specific date, The Daily Star newspaper reported Friday.

Studies have shown that the Buddhist tribals have lost land to encroachment by the Muslim majority population, allegedly condoned by successive governments.

The minister said the government will “fully implement” the CHT Peace Accord.

He alleged that it was shelved for the last seven years during the rule of Begum Khaleda Zia (2001-06) and two years of a military-backed government.

The accord was signed with the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) Dec 2, 1997 during Hasina’s earlier tenure as prime minister, ending two decades of bush war in the region.

The CHT Regional Council was formed in 1999 following the peace accord but no other major initiatives came in accordance with the agreement.

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, chairman of the council, was present at the meeting that minister Talukdar chaired along with elected representatives and tribal leaders.