The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord in Bangladesh: An Overview
AbstractThe Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, signed on December 2, 1997 between the government of Bangladesh and the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samhiti Samiti(PCJSS—Chittagong Hill People’s Solidarity Association) ended a long-standing armed conflict between the Bangladesh Army and the tribal people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the south-eastern region of Bangladesh. The treaty promised to bring stability in the region. But 15 years into the signing of the Accord, it has yet to bear fruit. The region is still the most unstable region of the country and resentment among the tribal people is increasing day by day due to delays in the full implementation of the Accord. The Accord has also produced a new conflict: after its signing, a group emerged from within the PCJSS movement and formed the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) a political party aiming at “full autonomy” rather than implementation of the Accord. The frequent clashes between PCJSS and UPDF and between the tribal and the ‘Bengali Settlers’ pose serious threat to the security of the country. In this situation this paper argues that the government of Bangladesh should take immediate and meaningful steps toward full implementation for the Accord. The costs of failure are high: disrupting activities, armed warfare, violations of human rights, losses of lives and resources, exposing the border regions to external threats—all of these are costs that the nation can hardly bear if lasting peace is not achieved.
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