Category Archives: Ethnic Minority

Connecting the visible dots: A post-Accord history

By Naeem Mohaiemen

Published in the Daily Star on 16 April 2010.

This piece outlines political developments in the Chittagong Hill Tracts since the 1997 Accord.

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‘Manush bachao’

By Jyoti Rahman

Published in Himal on 4 April 2010.

Myths and misperceptions persist in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as the third round of violence gathers momentum since the signing of the 1997 CHT accord.

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Chittagong Hill Tracts: Development without peace

by Naeem Mohaiemen

Published in the Daily Star on 25 February 2010.

This piece discusses the tribulations of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

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On withdrawal of troops from CHT

Hanufa Shamsuddin and Jyoti Rahman

Published by the New Age on 29 October 2009.

The underlying cause of tension in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is the reality of continuing discrimination faced by the region’s indigenous peoples in terms of the ongoing land encroachment and eviction, often in the name of development (eco-parks, plantations, construction of infrastructure), discrimination in access to justice and protection of the law.

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Our Politics of Dispossession

Naeem Mohaiemen

Published in the Forum on February 2009

When talking about human rights, complacent analysis comforts us with nostalgic notions like: “Bangalis have always been egalitarian/secular/(insert favourite value).” But in the context of life in a subcontinent with too many people fighting for too few resources, legal infrastructure is far more important than attitudes and social norms.

Within this context, there are certain laws that stubbornly stay in place. In some cases, this is because political parties consider them to be useful future tools (Special Powers Act). In other cases, it is because questions of patriotism and security are considered off limits to debate (anti-terrorism laws). Continue reading

Once we were heroes

Tazreena Sajjad

Published in the Daily Star on 6 Jan 2009.

IT is upto you, my Bengali and adivasi brothers and sisters, to save our country. It is your turn now.” These were the words of adivasi Bir Bikram U.K. Ching speaking at a function in his honour. It was organised by Shuddhoi Muktijoddho, a private initiative created by Lt Col (Retd) Sajjad Ali Zahir, Bir Pratik, to honour the contributions of the adivasi community in the liberation of Bangladesh.

U.K. Ching’s journey from near obscurity to recognition is one that should give the nation pause. There is little information about his contributions in the war and hardly any documentation about this gallant hero in official records.
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Between ashes and hope

Naeem Mohaiemen

Published by the Daily Star on 24 Dec 2008.

IN Dighinala, the lead Jumma (Pahari) speaker switches to Bangla after the initial Chakma greeting. As I film the crowd, I can see scattered Bengali faces. Later I ask one organiser if speaking Bangla is a way to appeal to Bengali voters. “Yes,” he replies, “But don’t forget, not all Paharis speak Chakma.” Chakma, Marma and Tripura are the biggest presence at these meetings, but the official records show eleven different ethnic Jumma groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

In this last election week, jumping on the candidate’s ramshackle jeep (with prodigious horse power on the up-slope) is the easiest way to get around. I had taken a ride with the vehicle belonging to Ujjal Sriti Chakma, independent candidate running with support of UPDF. As we move between locations, I note the language changing.

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Analysing The Election: Minority intimidation and electoral bigotry

MOST of us uncompromisingly show a conscious disgust against bigotry when it comes to foreigners — be it some racist acts of foreign cricketers or Barack Obama facing a negative campaign during the US election. When our expatriate friends and families tell us their experience of racial intimidation, we listen to them with utter shock and question: How can people be so bigoted? And then we have a content, self-serving feeling — at least we Bangalees are not bigots!

But, aren’t we? Is bigotry only about skin colour? What about religious, ethnic, gendered, class or regional discriminations? Our bigoted face probably gets the ugliest when the election comes. Continue reading

Analysing the Election: Deprivation or abstention?

Where is the Conscience of Our Nation?

Tazreena Sajjad

Published in the Forum (June 2008 )

Why speak up about things that don’t seem to affect you? Silence is, after all, protection. When demanding accountability and seeking dignity can be slandered as “anti-state activity,” it is better to save one’s skin by not raising one’s voice.

Yet silence connotes another message — compliance, and more wretchedly still, agreement. In the end, the politics and psychology of fear, compounded by our ability to disengage based on what is “us” and “them” robs us of our conscience. And we seem to accept without censure or question, what we give away — our consent. Continue reading