Thursday, November 24, 2011
235 army camps wthdrawn from CHT, claims Hasina before parliament
Seikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh told the parliament yesterday on army pull-out from the CHT that “Some 235 army camps have been withdrawn from the Chittagong Hill Tracts and a process is underway to pull out the remaining camps since the law and order situation there is improving”. The Daily Star, Dhaka reports today under the caption "Hasina sending envoy to India" and sub-caption "ARMY PULL-OUT FROM CHT" (http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=211364) :
"ARMY PULL-OUT FROM CHT
Some 235 army camps have been withdrawn from the Chittagong Hill Tracts and a process is underway to pull out the remaining camps since the law and order situation there is improving, said the prime minister in reply to another query.
She also said army men are cooperating with the civil administration to maintain peace and security in the CHT areas.
In a major development towards implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, 1997, the AL-led government started withdrawing security camps from the CHT areas from mid 2009."
Last year a drive was given to withdraw some army camps and it was claimed by the govt and the PM herself that it was done as part of the CHT Accord implementation. But, it was felt that the pull-out took place to meet the demand of deployment in Myanmar border. Barrister Moudud Ahmed (BNP lader) did not like the pull-out and sued the move to High Court. According to PCJSS (Santu Larma), so far, only 74 camps have been withdrawn from 525 army camps in the CHT.
The CHT are a heavily militarized region in Bangladesh, empowered by about 14 subjects/issues, under “Operation Uttoron”, a counter insurgency programme; in the name of ‘in aid of civil administration’. The militarization is bitterly criticized in media, civil society and UN system. According to Mattias Ahren, president of the Saami Council, an organisation of Saami people living in Sweden, Norway, Russia and Finland: “A few years ago I visited CHT. It was beautiful but also sad to see how heavily militarised the area was.”(http://www.en.bdtodaynews.com/2011/05/28/peacekeeping-forces-un-urged-to-screen-armys-hr-records/).
It is important to withdraw the “Operation Uttoron” then the military camps in the CHT. This will invite positive image for the govt and the army. There is every justification of asking about the rationale of keeping the Counter Insurgency office open after the signing of the CHT Accord. As long as this CI setup is not abandoned and the military role in the CHT is not zeroed then opportunities will be given to the global human rights groups for raising their voices internationally. We can cite the example of adoption of UNPFII recommendation by ECOSOC in July this year on the question of the CHT Accord which recommends for some measures on the UN Peacekeeping from Bangladesh.
Posted by CHT Voice, e-mouthpiece of the PCJSS. at 12:40 PM