Opening "Jum Library" for Jumma people, Bangladeshi minority
On Friday September 30th, Human Asia (President: Changrok Soh) and JPNK (The Jumma Peoples Network Korea) held opening ceremony for ‘Jum Library’ at JPNK headquarter located in Kimpo. The ceremony started at 3 p.m. Organizers as well as the following sponsors attended the ceremony: Global health NGO MediPeace (Chairperson: Young-seok Kang); BIR Publishing Co., Ltd. (CEO: Sanghee Park); Kinderland (CEO: Jongwon Lim); Monami Co., Ltd. (CEO: Hakyung Song).
JPNK President Jagadish Tanchangya introduced the guests and thanked everyone for attending the event. Through his welcoming address, he revealed that:
"Jum is a local term in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh which stands for slash and burn style of shifting cultivation on hill slopes . Jum is a specific term for the land of Jum cultivation with its ripen products namely paddy, cotton, sesame, fruits and different kinds of vegetables. In the old age, the Jumma people used to compare “Jum” to a market place for its variety of agricultural products. Jummas traditionally live on the food products of Jum. In a metaphoric sense, a library is like a “Jum” filled with intellectual products (books) of different kinds of knowledge that we need in everyday life. Hence, “the Jum library” optimistically will influence on building an insight development, progressive and peaceful society in Korea to be represented and replaced by the Jumma generations to come."
The opening of Jum Library is a dream come true for all the Jumma peoples-about 70 of them. He thanked all the organizers and sponsors for their active involvement.
In his congratulatory remarks, the President of Human Asia Mr. Soh Changrok said:
"This is an meaningful event especially in lieu with the fact that this year is the 60th anniversary of 1951 Refugee Convention. The collaboration of different actors-private companies, human rights NGOs and Jumma peoples-for this initiative, made this event all the more meaningful. My deepest and most sincere congratulations."
The congratulatory remark was followed by formal official ceremony of commemorating BIR.co. Ltd.'s and Kinderland's delivery of 1,000 volumes to the library. Official tape-cutting ceremony followed.
President Kang Byung-seok of the Kimpo Council for Supporting MigrantsI, President Lee Minyoung of Buddhist Solidarity for Reform and President Ahn Hyosang of Korea Socialist Party each delivered a short congratulatory remarks, which concluded the Session 1 of the event.
At Session 2, Ronel Chakma Nani the former JPNK Secretary General briefly introduced the organization's activity, also providing explanations about Jumma Peoples and where they came from, etc. After the brieft presentation by Mr. Nani, everyone shared traditional Jumma dishes, enjoying each other's company.
Most Koreans are unfamiliar with the term, ‘Jumma’. They are the indigenous people mostly residing in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh. As ethnic minority, they account for only 0.7% of Bangladesh total population, with 650,000. During the Partition of India in 1947, Indian subcontinent was partitioned on the basis of religion, Pakistan for Muslims and secular India for non-Muslims and Muslims alike. Despite 98.5% of the population of the Chittagong were Jummas and thus non-Muslims, the Pakistani leadership conspired and the Boundary Commission of Great Britain ceded the Chittagon to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in violation of the principles of partition and against the wishes of the Jumma people. During Bangladesh’s war of independence with Pakistan in 1971, Jummas sided with Bangladesh’s majority Bengalis. After the independence however, Bangladesh government did not accept Jumma people’s demand for autonomy. Instead, Jumma people are subjected to such human rights violations as land-grabbing, sexual assault, violence and murder, often organized and/or condoned by the Bangladesh government. Escaping from such human rights violations, some of them become refugees in other countries, away from their home.
In Kimpo’s Yangchon district specifically, there reside about 60 Jumma people around the JPNK headquarter. 47 of them have already obtained refugee status. JPNK strives to raise awareness on the human rights situations of Chittagong Hill Tracts and Jumma people, seeking solidarity for peace and the promotion of human rights. They maintain close ties with other ethnic minorities residing in Mongolia, Burma, etc. They also advocate for improving human rights of low-income multicultural families.
One of JPNK's future projects is Weekend Cultural School , through which children of Jumma community can educate themselves their own languages, Korean as well as other foreign languages; studying of their own culture and Korean's will be also available through the Cultural School. Public lectures on Jumma peoples' human rights anc cultures are being organized as well. Additionally, scholarship funds are being prepared for the Jumma community in Bangladesh.
The Jum Library currently holds about 2,000 volumes of Korean language and 500 English languag books. The library will be also used as a place for children to study after school. More donations (books, bookshelves, etc.) are always welcome.