Constructing the Jummas as ‘criminals’

July 30, 2015

by Hana Shams Ahmed

[This article was first published on June 12, 2015 in a special issue commemorating the 19th year of disappearance of Kalpana Chakma in the New Age]

The colonial world is a Manichaean world. It is not enough for the settler to delimit physically, that is to say with the help of the army and the police force, the place of the native. As if to show the totalitarian character of colonial exploitation, the settler paints the native as a sort of quintessence of evil.
— Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

December 1997 began with great hope for a large section of Jummas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. More than two decades of bloody, armed struggle with the state of Bangladesh for their recognition was finally coming to an end. During armed insurgency and counter-insurgency, allegations have it, the Bangladesh military carried out massacres against the Jumma people, villages were burnt down, women were raped and the area went under near-total media blackout. Of course not all Jummas were happy about the ‘Peace’ Accord. To begin with, the Accord did not acknowledge or offer reparation for state-led oppression on its own citizens. Nor did it explicitly say how its demographic engineering program to displace Jummas with Bengalis from the plainlands would be stopped.

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Joli No Udhim Kittei! (Why Shall I not Resist!)*

July 30, 2015

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Hana Shams Ahmed

[This article was first published on May 26, 2015 at Thotkata.net]

Kalpana Chakma was only two years older than me. We had a couple of things in common. We were born in the same country and we both kept personal diaries about our individual struggles in life. But that’s where the similarities in our lives ended. In the year 1996 as I was preparing for my A-level exams and arguing with my mother about my right to go out alone and wear the clothes of my choice, Kalpana was struggling against militarization, against a national suspicion of the ethnic ‘other’, against Government hypocrisy, against the militant-nationalism of the state of Bangladesh. In 12 June 1996 army officers abducted Kalpana Chakma in front of her two brothers, a sister-in-law and mother late at night from her home in Rangamati in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). 18 years on and many protests, meetings, roundtables, CID investigations and court appearances later, Kalpana Chakma still remains missing.

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Can the Jummas of Bangladesh speak?

July 30, 2015

Hana Shams Ahmed

[This article was published on February 17, 2015 at the Dhaka Tribune]

Although Bangladesh shares a 4,096km border with India, only the 1,036km-long border with India and Myanmar raise questions of sovereignty

Decisions taken by the government about the Chittagong Hill Tracts can at best be described as doublespeak. While the actual sentiments of the government indicates an urgency for increased securitisation, surveillance, discrimination and suspicion of the Jummas, the background and context provided for taking the decisions speak of maintaining “the law and order situation” and upholding “peace.” Read the rest of this entry »