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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Minority Chakma’s in India: “We are victims of constant human rights violations.”

As one of the tribes of the Jumma People, the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh, those who belong to the Chakma ethnicity are constant victims of abuses and racial discrimination, and have been for the past 40 years. The Jumma People have inhabited the Chittagong Hill Tracts for centuries but, following the partition of India in 1947, various governments have extensively and severely oppressed the minorities.

In 1964, about 35,000 Chakmas fled to India, mainly to the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Nowadays there are 64,000 of them living in those territories. The central government of India had issued valid migration certificates indicating legal entry into India and the government’s willingness to accept the Chakmas as future citizens. However, today the Chakmas remain stateless.

Up until 1980, the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh enjoyed all the rights, freedoms and facilities accorded to the fellow local tribes but, as the anti-foreigner movement swept the North East, in 1991, the Arunachal Pradesh Government withdrew these rights. Since then the Chakmas have been fighting for citizenship rights under the leadership of the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP). Their situation continues to deteriorate.

We have interviewed a group of 40 boys that for the past two years have been given the chance to study in a private school in Bihar, the Alice Project Education School. After reading their answers, we felt we couldn’t sum them up. We copy them literally, in order not to modify the boys’ original voice.

When the Chakma came from Bangladesh to India as refugees:

1. At first, in the former the Chakma used to stay at Bangladesh. In 1964 the Chakma escaped from Bangladesh. Some stayed at Tripura, some at Mizoram and some escaped to Arunachal Pradesh. They are facing problem in the following reasons:

2. Still we did not get the citizenship. Somebody got but not all because they need document. We even don’t have the right to vote.

3. We did not get any sanition facilities like electricity supply, water supply and other facilities.

4. We did not have proper education, governmental school, good health care centre and public health care centre. We did not have enough land, enough house and enough hospitals. The boys are regretting for good education and teaching. They don’t give any job.

5. In my village the boys are facing problems because there is no good school. There is only one governmental school there. The teachers of that school do not teach properly. From another school the tribal people, I mean the local people, led the Chakma students out from class 1st till 10th. Now those students want to study but they can’t. Now they are wandering here end there. The tribal people do whatever they want. We don’t have any authority. If any facility comes from the government in our village, the local people take those facilities and they don’t give it to the village.

6. They faced lot of problems and they give lots of trouble. Sometimes they burnt the houses. The people can’t escape or save anything. Sometimes the terrorists, who are from other tribes, came to the village and demanded for money. They go to the head of the village and they asked for money. They threatened people not to inform about those things to the police or to military, otherwise we will abolish you all. One day the terrorists came to my grandfather’s house and looted his shop. They took away everything they found. The villagers don’t want to be crabbed against others out of fear. If it’s real, even then they don’t want to be crabbed against the other tribes.

7. Last year a dangerous thing happened because of the land. Since the Chakma came from Bangladesh and took shelter in that place, they settled there and started to do agriculture in that place. When the other tribes came to know about that place that it was very good for agriculture, they also wanted to take that land. They started to claim our places as their own. The Chakma refused to give those lands because they had settled there after fleeing from Bangladesh and had no other shelter. So one day the other tribal came in a car with gun and knife to fight. That time the Chakma people became united and faced the problem. When the other tribal came to know about this they went away. But still they use to come and claim for those lands.

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