Extrajudicial killing of four indigenous leaders | Chakma community appeals to United Nations, U.S. to impose sanctions against four Bangladesh Army officers

The four officers are Shahinul Haque, the General Officer Commanding of the Bangladesh Army’s Chittagong Division, Brigadier General Mohammed M.H. Chowdhury, Colonel Abul Hasnat Jewel, and Major Zobayed Mohammad.

December 15, 2023 04:20 pm | Updated 04:20 pm IST - GUWAHATI

GUWAHATI

An India-based organisation of the Chakma community has asked the United Nations and the United States to impose sanctions against four Bangladesh Army officers for their alleged involvement in the extrajudicial killing of four indigenous community leaders in that country’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) on December 11.

The four officers are Shahinul Haque, the General Officer Commanding of the Bangladesh Army’s Chittagong Division, Brigadier General Mohammed M.H. Chowdhury, Colonel Abul Hasnat Jewel, and Major Zobayed Mohammad.

Also read | Who are Chakmas?

In a memorandum on December 15, the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) appealed to the United Nations and the U.S. to prohibit these officers from deployment in UN peacekeeping missions and impose visa sanctions for their involvement in the extrajudicial executions of four indigenous community leaders in the CHT.

“These officers served with the 203rd Infantry Battalion of the Bangladesh Army and they ought to be banned according to the UN policy on human rights screening of the UN personnel,” the CDFI said.

The foundation said a group of masked vigilantes escorted by Bangladesh Army personnel raided a house in CHT’s Anil Para village at around 9.30 p.m. on December 11 and executed Bipul Chakma, Liton Chakma, Sunil Bikash Tripura, and Rohin Bikash Tripura in cold blood.

The first two men were leaders of the Gonotantrik Jubo Forum, the third was the vice-president of Pahari Chhatra Parishad, and the fourth was a member of the United People’s Democratic Front, a regional political group in the CHT.

The vigilantes and Bangladesh Army personnel abducted three other activists – Niti Dutta Chakma, Harikamal Tripura, and Prakash Tripura – from the village. They have not been located since.

“CDFI director Tejang Chakma said the Bangladesh Army personnel prevented the local police from visiting the place of execution. It was only after Mukta Dhara, the Superintendent of Police of the Khagrachari district negotiated with the senior Army officials that the bodies of the four slain men were handed over to the police after 19 hours,” he added.

The CDFI claimed that the Bangladesh Army has been implementing a policy under which indigenous youths, often drug addicts, are recruited as vigilantes, kept in the army camps, and taken to designated or targeted areas to kill leaders belonging to the indigenous communities or tribes.

“These vigilantes are locally known as ‘Mukhosh Bahini’, meaning ‘masked force’. Dozens of indigenous leaders have been killed by these vigilantes,” the CDFI said.

The foundation pointed out that Section 17 of the CHT Accord of 1997 prescribes the withdrawal of army camps from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. “Not a single military camp has been withdrawn and the CHT peace accord “remains in tatters”, it said.

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