Report from Md. Zahid Hassan, Master in Peace and Conflict Transformation, University of Tromsø.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord 1997 signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), recognises the reestablishment of the rights of the indigenous people with the formation of locals & regional councils as controlling and supervisory bodies over land & land management, law & order, civil administration, police (local), development, primary & secondary education, forest & environment, and many more. After more than a decade of signing, the Accord has not been implemented fully and the violations of human rights continue. This study examines the challenges which Bangladesh as a post-war state face, in establishing democratic institutions and particularly indigenous institutions in order to bring justice and peace in the disputed CHT region. This study describes how the Land Dispute Resolution Commission which has been formed in 1999 to settle the land disputes between the indigenous people and Bengali settlers, can make its activities responsive to both a diverse constituency of indigenous people without ignoring the Bengali migrants and all the same gains trust and ownership among the Hillpeople. The study describes ‘the state of nature and politics’, ‘civil military relations’, ‘nation and identity building’ and ‘the geopolitical’ issues and how these issues played a key role in the policy formation process for CHT. In other words, I am keen to examine whether or not these issues influenced and made an impact on trust and ownership gaining process.