Conflicts & War

HRW flags death of Bangladesh indigenous activist in military custody

Dhaka, Mar 30 (EFE).- Nonprofit Human Rights Watch on Wednesday denounced the death of an indigenous activist in southeastern Bangladesh after he was allegedly tortured under military custody, and sought an independent probe to find those responsible for the act.

“Nabayan Chakma Milon’s tragic death is just the most recent case in a pattern of abuses by the Bangladesh military in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,” Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“The authorities should immediately open an independent and transparent investigation into Milon’s death as well as other cases of military abuse in the CHT that the government has persistently ignored,” he added.

The activist, part of the United People’s Democratic Front, an ethnicity-based political party which also has armed wings in the region, was arrested by a group of soldiers early on Mar. 15, while he was recovering from a medical procedure, HRW said citing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, an independent rights group.

According to the CHTC, the soldiers repeatedly hit Milon for an hour, until he was “half dead,” barely conscious, and appearing to have broken limbs.

The activist was subsequently taken away in a military vehicle and four hours later brought to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

HRW alleged that the death was the latest example of repeated violence by Bangladeshi authorities against the indigenous population in the southeastern parts of the country, including extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances and land-grab with hardly any compensation.

Such violence is hardly ever investigated, and the culpable are almost never brought to the justice, according to the rights group.

According to the statement, the problem stems from Dhaka’s failure to fully implement the 1997 peace accords signed between the government and local armed group Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), to end 20 years of conflict in the Chittagong hills, where the main disputes were linked to indigenous autonomy and land rights.

In the agreement, the Bangladesh authorities had pledged to withdraw their military troops and transfer authority over local police, land management and environmental protection to local Hill Councils.

However, according to HRW, more than two decades later the military presence in the area has increased in recent years.

“Nearly 25 years after the signing of the Peace Accords, the Bangladesh government has so far been correct in assuming the international community will ignore abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,” Adams said. EFE


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