Tag Archives: Bangladesh

CMRB Event: Borders, Boundaries and Beyond: A Feminist Exploration of the Making of Borders, Boundaries and Identities in Post-colonial Bangladesh – Rumana Hashem and Zobaida Nasreen


CMRB (The Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging)

at the University of East London is pleased to announce as part of its

Borders and Bordering Seminar Series:

Borders, Boundaries and Beyond: A Feminist Exploration of the Making of Borders, Boundaries and Identities in Post-colonial Bangladesh

Rumana Hashem and Zobaida Nasreen

(University of East London and Durham University)

This seminar will take place in

EB.G.06, Docklands Campus, University of East London, E16 2RD, nearest tube: Cyprus DLR


4-6pm, Monday 9th March 2015

The event is free but spaces are limited so please reserve a place by following the below link


Abstract: This presentation draws on two PhD studies and seeks to critically discuss the making of borders, boundaries and identities, especially how borders and boundaries are drawn, contested and redrawn in particular historical and socio-political location, in this case South-east Bangladesh. With a reference to our empirical studies about the post-colonial Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), we explore how the borders of Bangladesh and the redrawn boundaries of the CHT affect groups/collectivities with regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic status within the nation-state. The presentation relies on the concept of situated and contextual narratives to provide a multi-level, intersectional and discursive analysis of the creation of Bangladesh’s border. Accordingly, we adopt a translocational social-field framework for grasping the making of boundaries of different groups of women. We demonstrate, going beyond a structural assessment, that while the contested and redrawn borders of the nation-state of Bangladesh have enabled spheres for identity politics and hegemony of Bengali nation over ‘other nations/collectivities’, the redrawing of territorial borders has enabled the construction of identities of certain groups and individuals who form identities through cultural belonging, whose boundaries are regularly shifting and contested in relation to their gender, religion, culture, language and nationality. The discussion is interdisciplinary in nature and it draws on political-sociological and political-anthropological scholarship in particular.

Rumana Hashem is a Bangladeshi-born activist-sociologist and a post-doctoral associate affiliated with the CMRB. Originally a rights-activist and journalist, Rumana holds a PhD in gendered relations in the armed conflict in south-east Bangladesh, obtained from the University of East London. She completed a Bachelors and Masters from Dhaka University. Her MA dissertation explored state-violence against sex-workers in Bangladesh, and has led to the achievement of two awards, namely, a DAAD Fellowship (2000) at International Women’s University and a two-year DFG Post-colonial Studies Fellowship (2001-2003) at University of Munich. At UEL, she co-coordinates a research project ‘Democratic Access or Privileged Exclusion: Civic Engagement through the Preservation and Access to Refugee Archives’ that is aimed at developing an oral history of different refugee communities in London. She serves the Sociology journal as an associate reviewer combined with serving the London Roots Collective as a Trainer, the Phulbari Solidarity Group as the Co-ordinator, and Nari Diganta a secular Bengali women’s organisation in East London as an organising member. Rumana taught Sociological modules at the University of Leicester, University of East London and at BRAC University. She published in the Sage Research Cases Methodologies, Feminism & Psychology, DIEGESIS, The Journal of Social Science and other peer-reviewed journals. Contact on twitter @rumanahashem

Zobaida Nasreen is a Commonwealth Fellow and a PhD Candidate in Political Anthropology at Durham University. Her research title is, ‘State violence, Forced Displacement and the Indigenous Women’s Narratives in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh’. She is a faculty member (on Sabbatical) in the department of Anthropology at Dhaka University, and she taught on undergraduate courses at the Independence University in Bangladesh. Originally a left feminist- activist, Zobaida serves the East London’s Bengali women’s organisation Nari Diganta as a Movement and Advocacy Secretary.

www.euborderscapes.eu for more information on the EU Borderscapes project, www.uel.ac.uk/cmrb/borderscapes for details of the UEL Borderscapes team and www.uel.ac.uk/cmrb for information on CMRB


Press Release | 13th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Press Release

New York: May 19, 2014.  Kapaeeng Foundation, International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), and Shimin Gaikou Centre organized  an event titled “Marginalization and Impunity: Violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh” during the 13th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) on Monday, May 19, 2014 at the UN FF building in New York.

Elsa Stamatopoulou, Co-chair of the International CHT Commission, and Director of Columbia University’s Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program, said that the 1997 CHT Accord has been stagnating as it is still not being implemented by the government in any meaningful way. She added that impunity was not new in the CHT as major massacres and the burning of villages, as well as systematic rape and limitations of religious freedom in the CHT have not been investigated in any fair and impartial way by the state in the past decades, both before and after the Peace Accords. In addition, the systematic, state facilitated settlement of the area over the years coupled with land-grabbing, the displacement of Indigenous Peoples by the state, especially by settlers instigated or supported by the state/the army, is worsening the human rights situation. She said that, as is established under international human rights law, governments bear the primary responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of the people in their countries, while the international community along with the human rights and other UN bodies also have a responsibility to promote and monitor the respect of human rights. In that regard she mentioned a call by the UNPFII to the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) to develop a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen human rights records of the Bangladesh army personnel prior to allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations. She also pointed out that there was responsibility in the UN system, as well as bilateral donors, to promote respect for human rights and peace through their engagement with the Government of Bangladesh.  Another aspect of international responsibility lay with the exercise of international criminal justice, as expressed via the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been ratified by Bangladesh.

Bipasha Chakma, a human rights activist and a researcher for Kapaeeng Foundation, spoke about  research she conducted on sexual violence against indigenous women in the CHT. She said that indigenous women face discrimination based on gender and ethnicity but the Bangladesh National Women’s Development Policy (NWDP) did not address the issue of violence against indigenous women and in the parliament there are no reserved seats for indigenous women. Although the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107) was ratified by Bangladesh it has yet to be implemented and ILO Convention no.169 is yet to be ratified. She pointed out that during 2007-2013 at least 245 cases of violence against women were carried out and none of the perpetrators were prosecuted through the formal justice system. Based on her research she found that the root causes of such violence could be found in non-implementation of the CHT Accord, impunity, land grabbing, and militarization.  She pointed out that there was a lack of systematic documentation of these cases and access to legal procedures. The biased and corrupt administration led to this situation at the courts.

Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, an indigenous woman from the Mountain Province in the Philippines and a lawyer by profession, who coordinates the Legal Desk of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education) said that she visited Rangamati and Khagrachari in the CHT in 2009 and felt nervous by the fact that she had to be registered at the entrance by the security forces . Speaking about indigenous people’s access to justice in Philippines she pointed out that the approach is defined in law. The law in the Philippines says that indigenous people have the right to resolve conflicts among themselves in their territory. Appeals can be made to higher courts if that doesn’t work out. She said that the Philippine approach has been to strengthen indigenous people’s systems and sensitize communities on the rights of women. She thought that the indigenous people’s advocacy was on the right track as they were using the international advocacy mechanism but it was also important to do better documentation work. She said that although Bangladesh has ratified most of the human rights treaties the Government of Bangladesh does not implement the treaties’ provisions and seems to be insensitive to international pressure.

Devasish Roy, the Chief of the Chakma Administrative Circle and the Expert Indigenous Member from Asia to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues since 2011, spoke about identity, demographic engineering, and implementation of the 1997 CHT Accord. He said that although the Government of Bangladesh refuses to acknowledge the existence of indigenous peoples in the country it has ratified the ILO Convention No. 107 in 1972.  The convention’s provisions apply equally to “indigenous peoples” as they do to “tribals”. International human rights law does not distinguish between tribals and indigenous anymore. Roy further mentioned that Bangladeshis would be better peace keepers if they respected human rights in their own country. The military presence in the CHT should not be just be seen in term of their numbers, but also their role in civil matters. He pointed out that it was very difficult for indigenous peoples’ NGOs working on human rights issues, as NGO Bureau registration is denied to them in a discriminatory manner, depriving them from receiving direct foreign assistance. He felt that they might have to seek redress in the Supreme Court if the current trend of discrimination against them did not end. He expressed disappointment that even though since independence in 1971 it has been common for bills approved in the cabinet to be almost automatically passed in parliament, the amendment bill of the 2001 Land Commission Act has not followed the same trend. The Government of Bangladesh cited the need of “inclusiveness” for the delay in passing the amendment Act in parliament, which was totally unacceptable, given the decade-long delay over the matter. Deprived of remedies at home, the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh have no option but to seek support in international human rights processes, but they need support from other human rights actors in the process. Talking about government-sponsored settlers in the CHT, Roy said that food rations were provided to them, unlike other sections of the CHT population, in a discriminatory manner, merely to minoritize the indigenous people, leading to ethnic conflict and tension over land and other matters.

A report titled “Marginalisation and Impunity: Violence Against Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts” written by Dr. Bina D’ Costa of Australian National University and published by the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network (BIWN) was disseminated at the event. The report looks at cases studies of violence against women in the CHT during the period 2011-2012 and emphasizes that militarization and transmigration programs illegally settling Bengalis in the CHT have created extreme vulnerability and poverty for the indigenous peoples, and have deeply affected indigenous women’s and girls’ safety and security in the CHT. The report identifies that impunity has been the most important factor contributing to increased incidents of sexual and gender based violence in the CHT and the biases of the administrative, political and judicial systems prevent access to equality and justice by indigenous peoples. The report places several recommendations to the Government of Bangladesh and to civil society groups based on the findings of the research.

Lola Garcia, the Executive Director of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) moderated the event.

For more information, please contact:

Hana Shams Ahmed
Coordinator, International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC)
Email: chtcomm@gmail.com<mailto:chtcomm@gmail.com>

Phone: +1 (917) 972 6276

New Video on India/Bangladesh Exchange Initiative!

We would like to take this opportunity to forward some news in relation to

Image Copyright: International Accountability Project,

the  India/Bangladesh exchange initiative. Our very trustworthy friends at the International Accountability Project (IAP) were working on this initiative with some admirable videographers at Mediafire for the last several months. With thanks to IAP and some very devoted film makers, we have the pleasure to let you know that their film is now ready for you to available online!

You are most welcome to view the film and to share with your colleagues and friends.

Download link for Bangla version:

Download Link for Hindi version with English subtitles:

MediaFire says that  anyone can access using these links. I’ve just tried and they seem to be working fine.  However, if you do have problems with these links, let us know.

In the meantime, may I ask you to share the film with your friends/colleagues and as many people as possible please. Feel free to put the link on your blog, FB page, and twitter.
Further details on the India/Bangladesh Exchange Initiative can be found on the IAP website here at:  accprojectlive.radicaldesigns.org/article.php?id=742

Re-blog: Bangladesh: Indigenous Peoples engulfed in Chittagong Hill Tracts land conflict – Amnesty International

12 June 2013

Bangladesh: Indigenous Peoples engulfed in Chittagong Hill Tracts land conflict

Re-blogged from: www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/bangladesh-indigenous-peoples-engulfed-chittagong-hill-tracts-land-conflict

The Bangladeshi government’s failure to address rights to traditional lands in the eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts region has left tens of thousands of Pahari Indigenous people landless and trapped in a cycle of violent clashes with Bengali settlers, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

The report, Pushed to the Edge, documents how the Pahari are still waiting for the government to live up to the terms of an accord signed more than 15 years ago, by restoring their traditional lands to them.

Clashes between the Pahari and Bengali settlers in the region over land use are all too common.

“The current situation, with violent clashes being fuelled by disputes over land, continues to cause immense insecurity and suffering for the Pahari Indigenous People, and the Bangladeshi authorities have to address it immediately,” said Andrew Erueti, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

“That the Pahari Indigenous People are being denied their traditional lands, or adequate compensation for land taken away from them, is a clear violation of international human rights law.”

The Chittagong Hill Tracts region in southeastern Bangladesh has long seen internal armed conflict following Pahari demands for greater autonomy and protection of traditional lands.

A 1997 peace accord included a series of reforms to restore Pahari traditional lands to them, but these have only at best been partially fulfilled despite repeated promises by the current Bangladeshi government.

“The government has still time to fulfill its promises before the general elections in 2014”, said Erueti.

The conflict had a devastating effect on the Pahari and still today it is estimated that more than 90,000 Pahari families remain internally displaced.

A Land Commission – set up under the Peace Accord to settle land ownership claims after the conflict – has yet to make a single ruling on a land dispute.

Thousands of Bengali settlers who have moved to the Chittagong Hill Tracts during and after the conflict have gradually occupied and encroached on traditional Pahari land, giving rise to renewed violent clashes. During the conflict, the settlers – mostly landless families from the plains districts – were encouraged to move to the Chittagong Hill Tracts with offers of land as part of a counter insurgency strategy.

Pahari tend to suffer disproportionately in the clashes, which have over recent years left hundreds of Pahari families homeless as their houses have been burned down in mob violence triggered by land disputes.

In February 2011, for example, a mob of some 200 Bengali settlers burned at least 23 Pahari homes in the Longadu after a Bengali settler accused the Pahari community of murdering his brother. Nobody has been held accountable for the attacks on the village.

The authorities have remained ineffectual throughout, failing to protect the Paharis’ right to security and their rights to traditional lands – as well as their livelihoods and way of life, which is inextricably linked to those lands.

Pahari women are especially negatively affected, as one Pahari woman told Amnesty International:

“We are now left with no land to do jum (farming) and grow crops, or forest to go to for collecting fuel wood, and fruit. Life has become very hard as we have [the] army at very close proximity and I feel very insecure even walking short distances. Our home has become an insecure unsafe place to live in. I’m now constantly worried about getting food for my family and security of my children.”

“For many Pahari Indigenous people, in particular in rural areas, their traditional lands are linked to not just their livelihood but also their very way of life. It is inconceivable that after 15 years the Land Commission set up to restore Pahari to their lands is not operational,” said Erueti.

Despite the 1997 peace accord promising to remove all temporary army camps from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the region still remains Bangladesh’s most militarized with a substantial army presence. Many Pahari view the army as providing support for Bengali settlers’ continued occupation of Pahari land.

“This violence is likely to continue as long as these serious land disputes remain unresolved. It is also indicative of the Bangladeshi authorities’ failure to adequately protect Pahari people at risk, despite the huge security presence in the region,” said Erueti.

Amnesty International calls on the government of Bangladesh to respect its obligations under international human rights law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples No.107, and take concrete steps to return the Paharis’ traditional lands to them, with the effective participation of Pahari women and men in the process.

Amnesty International is also calling on political parties in the lead up to next year’s general elections to include the restoration of Pahari right to their traditional land in their election manifesto.

AI Index: PRE01/269/2013

Bangladesh: Pushed to the edge. Indigenous rights denied in Bangladesh’s Chittagong hill tracts


Truth Lost? Most Military Records of Bangladesh War Missing‏ | PKKH.tv

NEW DELHI: The history of the 1971 India-Pakistan war will never be fully written. Most of the official records of the war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh have been destroyed.

The destroyed files include those on the creation of the Mukti Bahini — the Bangladesh freedom fighters — all appreciation and assessments made by the army during the war period, the orders issued to fighting formations, and other sensitive operational details.

Authoritative army sources said all records of the period, held at the Eastern Command in Kolkota, were destroyed immediately after the 1971 war. This has remained secret until now.

According to at least two former chiefs of the Eastern Command and other senior army officers TOI spoke to, the destruction may have been deliberate.

They say the destruction may have happened when Lt General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the Indian army’s commanding officer on the eastern front, headed the Eastern Command. If true, this would be at odds with Aurora’s image as the hero who led his men to victory and thePakistan army’s surrender in Dhaka.

The sensational fact that the files were missing became known only recently when the Eastern Command was searching for details of the Mukti Bahini camps in order to organize a reception for Bangladeshi veterans.

The Indian Army had housed the freedom fighters in different camps across India, where army instructors trained them in warfare. Later, Mukti Bahini fighters were part of the operations led by the eastern command.

A senior army source told TOI, “We were looking for the details of Mukti Bahini camps. We wanted to know where all were the camps, who were in charge etc. When those files were not available, the eastern army command launched a hunt for the records of the war. That is when we realized that the entire records are missing.”

Lt Gen (retd) JFR Jacob, who was chief of staff of the eastern command during the war and later its head, admitted the records were missing, when asked if this were true. ”When I took over as Eastern Army commander in August 1974 I asked to see the records. I was told that they have been shredded,” he told TOI. He refused to discuss who ordered the destruction of the records.

The army headquarters and various units of the army may have some records of the war, a senior army officer said.

But the picture will never be complete, he said, adding that military records maintained at the nerve center of operations are crucial if one is ever to construct the full picture.

The details are significant as this operation is one of the great success stories of Indian intelligence and the army.

via Truth Lost? Most Military Records of Bangladesh War Missing‏ | PKKH.tv.

News: Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

Disappearing world … a project for climate refugees near Cox’s Bazar, as people have been forced from islands such as Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal. Photograph: Salman Saeed. The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands.

The Guardian Online has recently published an interesting audio slideshow detailing the impact of climate change on refugees and Bangladesh.  The article is entitled, `Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow’ and the introduction to the article states:

Many Bangladeshis have relocated from the vanishing island of Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal to Cox’s Bazaar. But they are being asked to move once again as sea levels rise and people’s livelihoods are put at risk by climate change. John Vidal interviews Kutubdia island administrator Firoza Ahmed, who defends the government’s attempts to protect people but recognises that food production is being hampered, and Aminul Hashim, who has been displaced and says: ‘I have lost all of my land, my house. It’s very hard here’

The full link to the audio slideshow is here:  www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/interactive/2013/jan/29/bangladesh-climate-refugees-audio-slideshow

The Guardian Online has published a number of related articles which are detailed below:

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh: after the floods comes the hunger – in pictures

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s once welcome floods are now harbingers of disaster

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh farmers caught in vicious cycle of flood and debt

The Guardian Online – The threat posed by climate change in Bangladesh – in pictures

The Guardian Online – ‘We have seen the enemy’: Bangladesh’s war against climate change


Call for Papers: The Story of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi People, at home and in the Diaspora

The Story of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi People, at home and in the Diaspora

A major one day conference

Saturday 27 April 2013, Rich Mix Centre, East London

Brick Lane Circle will organise its third annual conference on the Story of Bangladesh and Bangladeshi People, at home and in the Diaspora. It is designed to help improve our understanding of the:

  1. history of the land currently known as Bangladesh and developments since prehistory, birth of a new country 1971 and up to the present time
  2. experiences of Bangladeshi Diaspora around the world
  3. complexities and challenges faced by Bangladesh and Bangladeshi people

The conference will explore history, politics, identity, economics, climate change, international relations, positive achievements, challenges, etc.

Brick Lane Circle invites research students, scholars and researchers with expertise in the field to participate in the forthcoming event. If you have undertaken research on any field regarding Bangladesh and Bangladeshis abroad and would like to share and explore your findings and conclusions with a dynamic and critical audience then please contact us on bricklanecircle@yahoo.co.uk.