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[Social Minority Rights] The Jumma People of Bangladesh 001

[Social Minority Rights] As a member of "knowing human rights," Human Asia publishes articles of various social minorities who are subject to discrimination. This story of Bangladesh Jumma People is written by Supan Chakma, who is currently staying in South Korea as a refugee claimant. Hidden Bangladesh: Violence and Brutality in the Chittagong Hill Tracts When you think of Bangladesh you may think of a vibrant nation of teeming people in the Ganges delta. The Chittagong Hill Tracts are altogether different: impossibly green, forested mountains rise above lakes in a verdant, uncrowded land – a side of Bangladesh most people never see. The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is a small territory component with three hill districts known as Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban, located in the southeast corner of Bangladesh. 11 ethnic indigenous groups collectively known as Jumma people reside all over these three hill districts. They are namely, Bawn, Chak, Chakma, Khumi, Kyang, Lushai, Marma, Mro, Pangkhua, Tanchangya and Tripura as you see the same to my background banners. Jumma peoples are the ethnic and religious minority community of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh. They are remarkably different from those of Bengali majority of Bangladesh in terms of ethnic, physical appearance, religion, culture and languages. [Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh] The root of the CHT’s crisis lies in the policies of the government of Bangladesh that seeks to establish homogeneous Bengali Muslim society. Over the last 50 years, hundreds and thousands of Bengali settlers have been moved onto these jummaland. A long conflict between the indigenous people and Bangladesh government has been followed causing huge numbers of deaths, destruction and suffering in the CHT. This situation is constantly jeopardizing the life, land, culture, security and development of the indigenous jumma people of CHT. This is hardly surprising: since March 2015, access to outsiders is tightly controlled and the indigenous people are forbidden to speak to foreigners without supervision. So what is happening in the CHT that the government doesn’t want the outside world to know about? 1. Status of Jumma Women in CHT: Violence, particularly sexual violence, is routinely carried out by settlers and the military alike. Jumma women have become the greatest casualty in the ethnic conflict of Bangladesh. They are the victim of systematical attack by the Bengali settlers and security personnel since the conflict started in the mid-1970s as deliberate tactic to destroy or damage Chakma nation. As we know, the Indigenous Women are targeted mainly for two reasons: for being women and for being indigenous. While the fact is about overall human rights in CHT needless to say, indigenous women rights are terribly violated over the period of time and still happening widely in broad day light. The figures make for sickening reading: in 2018 alone 117 indigenous women faced physical and sexual abuse, 57% of these being children. Twenty one of these women were raped or gang-raped and seven were killed afterwards. No wonder indigenous lawyer, Samari Chakma, calls the Chittagong Hill Tracts a “rapist’s heaven”. [An ethnic Jumma Community] 2. Encroachment on Land Right Land is continually being taken from the indigenous people without their consultation for plantations, tourist resorts and to settle people from other parts of Bangladesh. The army, mostly the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), continues to increase their land holdings, power and influence in the area and to increase their wealth. From the very beginning of the Pakistan regime, the encroachment on the land rights of Jumma people had been started and it has been continued by the successive governments till now. The governments have already acquired thousands of acres of land in the name of various development programs by evicting the indigenous people from their hearth and home without proper rehabilitation and adequate compensation. 3. Islamisation policy through transmigration of Bengali Settlers: History shows that the CHT region once a predominant non-Bengali Muslim area which is rapidly becoming a Bengali Muslim area by Islamisation policies of the governments. The influx of outsider Bengali Muslim settlers into the CHT region had been started since the creation of Pakistan. Bangladesh government’s vigorous Islamisation policies had made the situation worse than ever before. Currently, the Bengali populations within the Chittagong Hill Tracts have become the ethnic majority. [Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh] 4. Militarization: In order to suppress the Jumma people, the CHT has been heavily militarized. Indigenous demands for autonomy remain unheeded. And the Hill Tracts remain the most highly militarized region in Bangladesh. The Jumma people are still under military rule through the Operation Uttoron (Upliftment). Under this Operation Uttoron the army personnel can commit any kind of atrocity with impunity. In the recent past, they, in collaboration with the local administration and police and the Bengali Muslim settlers committed large-scale atrocities at Baghaihat, Babuchara, Chhotomerung and Ramgarh. The military authority continues to be final policy making and law enforcing authority in the CHT. So very often the military authority is charged with whipping up of communal violence against the Jumma people. 5. Non-stopping and Non-withdrawal of Bengali Muslim Settlers The Bangladesh government has settled hundreds of thousands of Bengali people in the Chittagong Hills, and they now make up the majority of the population in the region. Settlement has not been peaceful. Still the infiltration of the outsider Bengali Muslim settlers is continuing. The recent infiltration cases of Longadu, Dighinala, Barkal, Nakkyangchari, Lama, Alikadam, Mohalchari, Matiranga, Manikchari and many other places are glaring examples. So, the cases of illegal land grabbing by the settlers have recently come to a dangerous pass. In a number of violent clashes, tobacco, rubber and tea planters have seized Jumma (Indigenous) lands at will, usually with military support. By 2019, the situation had become so bad that indigenous people’s voice is never heard of; “We are now left with no land to farm 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.” Therefore, immediate stopping of new Bengali Muslim settlement as well as rehabilitation of all Bengali Muslim settlements outside CHT is a must. The Bengali Muslim settlers should be sent to their original homeland in the plains. 6. Non-recognition of the Entity of the Indigenous Jumma People in the Constitution. The indigenous peoples in Bangladesh are not even acknowledged in the Bangladesh constitution. All ruling government parties of Bangladesh have lacked sympathy towards the social and economic systems of the indigenous peoples, and this has been exacerbated by the disruptive policies of internal colonization. The state itself is liable for the destruction of indigenous communities within the country. The Bangladesh Government has yet no policy for the development of indigenous peoples. Neither does it recognize “Indigenous Peoples” as indigenous peoples. The main demand of indigenous peoples in the country is for constitutional recognition and the right to self-determination. Chittagong Hill Tracts is a region of the Chittagong Division in Bangladesh. We would also like you all to know that it is a common practice of the armed forces to criminalize of Indigenous peoples for protesting against governments and corporations in defense of their traditional lands aims to protect them from persecution, murder and imprisonment on falsified charges. It’s been observed and concluded that the issue of criminalization of Indigenous Peoples is an ongoing crisis. In 2018, human rights watchdog Global Witness reported that almost 1,000 environmental defenders have been killed since 2010 and that in 2017 at least 207 land and environmental activists – almost half of them Indigenous – were targeted and murdered for defending their forests, rivers, wildlife and homes against destructive industries. From November 18, 2017 to August 15, 2018, 78 people have been kidnapped and never been found. As such, the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh have been affected by what has been described as “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” for many years. Gross Human rights violations, racial attacks, land grabbing, demographic invasion by Bengali settlers are common practices in CHT. Bangladesh military with the settlers are responsible for all sorts of violence and unrest in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Hence, it is high time for Bangladesh to be held accountable for the brutal deeds being done by central forces, whose only focus is the power concentration of the dominant ethnic and religious group. Their apparent impunity is nothing then a government planned ethnic cleansing program. And the truth is our indigenous women are the targets of that procedure. On behalf of the indigenous Jumma people, my urge to the highly empowered leaders and Korean civil society is to assess the current situation of CHT in order to stop all these cruel human rights violations and mass killing, rape, kidnapping at a large scale. It is high time, the Bangladesh government must implement the promises it made in the 1997 peace accord, fully recognizing and protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts to their traditional lands. It must respect its obligations under international human rights law and conduct thorough investigations into allegations of human rights violations, including the abduction of Kalpana Chakma. We are seeking help for international condemnation and awareness until spur actions are undertaken to protect our women. We believe by using universal languages of peace and solidarity our Jumma people will be able to grow freely in their own instinct someday. 2020.5. Supan Chakma. *Human Asia joined the Refugee Network since 2010 and has been conducting refugee human rights advocacy activities. Since 2011, Human Asia has been working with Gimpo Jumma People's Network in Korea (JPNK). in addition, since 2016, we have been conducting development cooperation project for Jumma refugees in India (Chakma).


Artist: Woohyung Cho - DRAWING


Artist: Yena Kang - ILLUSTRATION


'Activism Through Art: Unite Against Corona' Online Event

‘Activism Through Art: Unite Against Corona’ Online EventIntroduction & Objectives Millions of people around the world currently are living through incredibly tough times because of the rapid global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus has had a profound impact not only upon our health, but also on our home and work lives, our economy, our medical services, and the very way that we interact with each other. Although the virus itself doesn’t discriminate, communities such as those working in health professions, the elderly, those living in poverty and homelessness, migrants and refugees, and women are particularly vulnerable to the virus and its larger social effects. In such difficult times, we need to remember more than ever before our common humanity and human rights. Human Asia is therefore opening our Activism Through Art event to bring people together and promote a sense of comradery. The event is open for anyone and everyone of any age* to present their thoughts, ideas and emotions on the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, preventative measures on stopping the spread, and on supporting those most vulnerable to the virus and social intolerance. We accept any kind of artistic submission from drawings and paintings, digital art, photographs, sewing, or any other craft. Benefits All participants will receive a prize from Human Asia for taking part and will have their artwork posted on our SNS and website. The best submission will receive a special prize from Human Asia, to be announced at a later date. How to Participate: 1. Create your artwork 2. Submit your work to in high resolution PNG or JPG format (or a picture of yourself holding your artwork if possible!) along with an address for your gift** 3. Share and like your artwork when it’s posted on our social media! *Participants under the age of 15 should get parental or guardian consent before submitting their pictures. Please email for further details and questions.


Artist: Sewon Kim - DRAWING


Mindoro Empowerment Project (2020.05.15)

Announcing the start of the Philippines Mindoro Island Ethnic Minority Empowerment Project. May 15th is the International Day of Families as designated by the United Nations. There are various forms of families today, and the notion of "family" is changing too. However, the importance of the family still carries unchanging weight. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to ensure that we still support vulnerable individuals and families. Human Asia launches the Mindoro Empowerment Project in celebration of the International Day of Families. We are looking for sponsors who will join our mission to bring light to the lives of Mangyan families with 30,000 KRW per month for the duration of 2 years. Support a family now through the link below. ↓ We look forward to your care and support!


Revealing our new website! (Here&Now)

Introducing the new Human Asia official website! Our new and improved platform aims to spread the light of human rights to more people, through updates on our human rights advocacy and human rights-based development activities. . . . The new homepage was created by Here&Now. Thank you once again to Here&Now’s hard-working managers, who helped us release our new website on May 12th. (Sponsored by Papa John’s Pizza)


Artist: Joo Ryu - PAINTING


Press Conference_ End discrimination - include migrants equally in the distribution of emergency disaster relief funds! (2020.05.07)

Human Asia is a member of the Refugee Human Rights Network and supports the activities of the Refugee Human Rights Network. Accordingly, Human Asia supports the official statement and Refugee Human Rights Network’s recent activities issued by the Refugee Human Rights Network. We also hope that other organizations affiliated with Human Asia to support their efforts. Below is the script of the press conference. End discrimination - include migrants equally in the distribution of emergency disaster relief funds! A Joint press conference of the National Immigrant Human Rights Organization in front of the Blue House Following the local governments such as Seoul and Gyeonggi, the Moon Jae-in government will pay emergency disaster relief funds in May. According to the government's announcement, the government stated that in order “to provide livelihood and income security for people suffering from the COVID-19”, and in consideration of widespread national damage and difficulties, [the government] expanded the scope of emergency disaster relief fund subjects from the bottom income bracket of 70% to the entire population.” In addition, a special law was also enacted to “provide a mechanism for high-income earners to voluntarily donate and contribute to the social solidarity with mature citizenship.” Furthermore, this donation will be incorporated into the Employment Insurance Fund so that it can be used for more precious and urgent purposes, such as maintaining the employment and supporting the unemployed people. In the event of a disaster, these policies are implemented to support the damage and stimulate the economy by boosting consumption. However, this policy excludes the majority of migrants, which is a serious problem. On April, 16th, ‘The Disaster Relief Fund Pan-Governmental TF’ announced the detailed criteria for the selection of subjects regarding the migrants. According to this, as of the end of March, approximately 1.44 million out of 1.73 million long-term immigrants are excluded from the subjects. We cannot help but criticize this standard of this criteria as a policy that discriminates and excludes the majority of migrants systematically and does not meet the universality of disaster relief fund. First of all, the fact itself that foreigners are excluded from receiving the emergency disaster relief fund is problematic. People of all nationalities and races are equally subject to viruses. Likewise, migrants living in Korea are equally vulnerable to the disaster damages. Therefore, the government has also stipulated that the quarantine policy should be abided by both citizens and migrants. In this sense, since migrants are actually living in Korea and equally susceptible to the disaster, they should not be discriminated against in terms of receiving the emergency disaster relief fund. Moreover, the statement that among the migrants, only those ‘who are highly related to Koreans through marriage or permanent residents’ can be receive the fund is highly unconvincing. For example, do immigrants with long-term visas, such as nationality or work visa, have a lower relationship with Korean society? If this is because of the fact only those marriage migrants and permanent residents can remain in the data processing of the resident registration and are living in the same household with the citizens, this whole idea is extremely poor and convenient. (Indeed, some local governments have presented this type of justification) There is no reason for migrants to be discriminated against or excluded from paying taxes and contributing to the economy and society. According to the National Tax Service's statistics, in 2018, 573,000 migrants paid 7,836 billion won in earned income tax, and 80,000 migrants paid 383.8 billion won in total as general income tax. If we combine these amounts, it is 1,161.5 billion won. Furthermore, they are also paying local tax, residence tax, and various indirect taxes. According to the Korea Institute for Immigration Policy, the economic contribution that migrant workers have done reached 74.1 trillion won in 2016 and 86.7 trillion won in 2018. Even in overseas cases, migrants are often included in the subjects for support. For instance, Japan, which regarded the migrant policy as being exclusive policy, gave support to migrants in the 2008 financial crisis by distributing the fund with a title as ‘fixed payment.’ Likewise, in this 2020 COVID-19 crisis, Japan is distributing the ‘special fixed payment’ to the immigrants who are registered for more than 3 months, paying 100,000 yen per person (approximately 11.4 million won). Moreover, the U.S. pays $1,200 per adult if the annual income is less than $75,000 (with a combined income of $150,000), including immigrants with social security numbers. For instance, in California state, $500 per person is also distributed to unregistered immigrants with an upper limit of $1,000 per household. In Germany, 5,000 euros are paid to all foreign and domestic freelancers, self-employed businessmen, and small business owners who receive profits by receiving tax numbers. Portugal grants temporary citizenship to all migrants. Canada implements Emergency Response Assistance (CERB), which allows short-term migrant workers and international students to receive fund if they have a valid Social Security number, even if they are not citizens or permanent residents. In Korea, Bucheon City and Ansan City also provide subsidies to migrants. Above all, the realization of “Social Solidarity Based on Mature Citizenship” that the government pointed out needs to first start with making sure that no one in a social community is discriminated against. Even under the Constitution and international law, immigrants, of course, should not be discriminated against, and they have dignity and value as human beings. They also guaranteed rights to live a human life and are the subject of equality. It is unjustifiable to include migrants as necessary in the reproduction and expansion of the population, complementing the workforce, consumption and economic life, payment of taxes and social insurance, etc., and suddenly treating them as invisible ghosts when it comes to the distribution of emergency disaster relief fund. If ‘person comes first’, shouldn't that person also include migrants? If Korea’s quarantine policy model is to be treated as a global example, shouldn't it be an example of economic solidarity and disaster relief funding as well? Shouldn’t we work altogether in order to overcome the disaster with the power of community solidarity? We should not set a precedent for excluding the migrants in this time of global crisis. From the local government to the government, we should no longer make the migrants sad and bitter. The government should pay equally to migrants, not to discriminate and exclude migrants from receiving emergency disaster relief funds! May, 7th, 2020 All participants of a joint press conference for the national immigrant human rights groups Source: Refugee Rights Network Facebook page


Artist: Joy Lee - DRAWING


Artist: @jjangatart - ILLUSTRATION


Official Statement_ Welcoming Bucheon City Council’s Steps Towards ‘A World Without Discrimination’ (2020.04.29)

As a member of the Korea Refugee Rights Network, Human Asia supports the work activities of the network. The following statement was issued by domestic immigrant and refugee human rights organisations, with full support from Korea Refugee Rights Network. We hope that in accordance with the following, local government bodies including in Gimpo, where numerous migrants including Jumma refugees reside, will practice non-discriminatory policies in the near future. Here is the full statement: We welcome Bucheon City Council's steps towards ‘A World without Discrimination’! - Regarding the recent division by Bucheon City Council to grant basic disaster relief income to foreign residents - On April 29, Bucheon City Council announced that it had passed the 'Partial Amendment to the Disaster Basic Income Payment Ordinance for Bucheon City' in order to broaden the scope of disbursement of basic disaster income and secured further related necessary budgets in Bucheon. The ordinance stated that the purpose of the basic income for disasters in Bucheon City is to 'pay the basic income following national disasters to the citizens of Bucheon to help contribute to the stabilization of living, basic social rights, and the vitalization of the local economy.' The revision critically expanded payment eligibility; from ‘a person who is registered as a resident in the city’ to ‘marriage immigrants, permanent residents, and 'foreigners who are admitted that they need support from the mayor.’ Mayor Deokcheon Jang stated that such foreign residents include ‘all registered foreign citizens residing in Bucheon’. Accordingly, 43,217 registered foreigners in Bucheon, including permanent residents, marriage immigrants, Koreans with foreign citizenship, and migrant workers, can receive basic disaster relief as ‘Bucheon citizens.’ This is the first attempt to include non-Korean residents in national relief efforts, which is a very encouraging sign. Hate and discrimination against immigrants has been continually intensifying during the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign residents have been discriminated against in the supply of masks and have further typically been excluded from the disaster relief basic income efforts. Non-Korean workers have been the first to be pushed out of the workplace with economic decline, although they have worked hard in each industry to upkeep and maintain Korean society. Therefore, this first attempt to include the majority of foreign residents within COVID-19 relief efforts is extremely meaningful. There are still areas of concern to address regarding the inclusion of all foreign residents. International students, for example, along with unregistered immigrants, are currently unable to claim the basic disaster relief income. We hope that Bucheon helps all members of its society overcome the crisis by distributing the income funds to all. Furthermore, we urge other local government bodies and the central government to follow in Bucheon’s footsteps and provide basic disaster relief income to all residents, Korean or otherwise. Crises and disasters can never be completely overcome when there remains exclusion and discrimination. To keep everyone safe, universal policies must be promoted. It is imperative to have social solidarity and ensure that no one is left out. 2020.04.29 National Immigrant Rights Organization


Artist: Bereket Alemayehu- PHOTOGRAPHY


Artist: Jinwon Lee - ILLUSTRATION


The 64th Human Rights Workshop, “Pandemic and Human Rights: The Experience of COVID-19 to Korean Society and Human Rights Issues during the Disaster” (2020.04.20)

On Tuesday 20 April, Human Asia and SSK Human Rights Forum held the 64th Human Rights Workshop on the theme of “Pandemic and Human Rights: The Experience of COVID-19 to Korean Society and Human Rights Issues during the Disaster.” In accordance with national social distancing recommendations, the 64th SSK Workshop was held as an online workshop through Zoom, with Dr. Yoon-jung Joo, Senior Researcher at the Seoul National University Social Development Research Institute, as guest speaker. Through this workshop, Dr. Joo pointed out the following human rights issues within the pandemic situation: (1) problems regarding anti-China sentiment and stigmatization; (2) problems for vulnerable social groupS; and (3) issues regarding the degree of infringement on liberal rights caused by the location-tracking wristband. Furthermore, Dr. Joo emphasized the need for medical services against the spread of COVID-19 and human rights-based quarantine policies. She also pointed out the importance of measures for dealing with the post COVID-19 era, in which various new social problems may appear (including mass unemployment). In particular, she highlighted how to deal with the problem of the absence of human rights norms and governance models in disaster situations caused by the unprecedented spread of disease, and referred to the controversies regarding restrictions on privacy and freedom. You can view the 64th Human Rights Workshop again through the link below: Human Asia will continue to conduct various human rights activities despite the social and economic turmoil caused by the spread of the COVID-19. We believe that when various actors actively collaborate and cooperate, we can tackle and overcome global crises altogether. Human Asia will continue to actively respond to the spread of the COVID-19 through various civil rights advocacy and protection measures for citizens in the near future. Currently, Human Asia is hosting our Activism Through Art: Unite Against Corona Online Event to bring people together and promote a sense of comradery in these times of uncertainty. The event is open to all and anyone. We hope that many people participate to restore a sense of social solidarity and trust, and overcome the COVID-19 crisis as soon as possible together. For more information on the event, please click the link below. Thank you.

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