Bangladesh is observing the 21st anniversary of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Treaty today (Sunday).
The treaty was signed on December 2, 1997 between the government and the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending bloody conflicts in three hill districts.
The then Jatiya Sangsad Chief Whip Abul Hasnat Abdullah signed the agreement on behalf of the government while Joritindra Bodhipriyo Larma (Santu Larma) on behalf of PCJSS.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today issued separate messages marking the completion of 21 years of the treaty.
In his message, the President called upon all irrespective of party affiliations to work together to make use of the potentials of hill districts and for the development of the motherland.
“I believe that the peace treaty is expediting socioeconomic and cultural development of the people in CHT region,” the President said.
He appreciated the ministry for CHT affairs for taking various programmes marking the 21 years of the peace accord and wished successes of all events.
He recalled that the historic CHT Peace Accord was signed between the CHT Affairs National Committee and the PCJSS on December 2, 1997 at the initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending long-standing conflicts.
“This is a glaring example of resolving disputes peacefully,” he said.
As a sequel to the implementation of CHT accord, the CHT Affairs Ministry and CHT Regional Council were formed, he said.
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought cooperation from all for full implementation of the CHT peace treaty.
She congratulated all people in the CHT districts and the countrymen on the occasion.
On December 2, 1997, the historic CHT Peace Accord was signed without the mediation of any third party, with a view to stopping bloody conflicts in the CHT, she said.
The Prime Minister said: “It’s a rare incident in the world history”.
This peace accord brought an end to the long-term bloody racial skirmishes in the CHT region and established the trend of peace and development there, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said achieving the UNESCO Peace Prize is a global recognition to the treaty.
The Prime Minister said the post 1975 governments (after the assassination of Bangabandhu) had created divisions between the Bangalee and the hill people for their self-interest instead of maintaining social stability there.
Killings, tortures and injustice, grabbing of lands and wealth and misuse of the state resources had made the region more unstable, she added.
In 2001, she said, the then BNP-Jamaat alliance government had opposed the historic peace agreement and wanted to destabilize the hilly region again. But their ill efforts went in vain, she added.
“We are pledge-bound to maintain peace across the country, including the CHT,” the Prime Minister said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has been implementing massive development programmes in all sectors, including education, health, electricity, communications, infrastructure and mobile networks in the region.
The government has set up a Science and Technology University and a medical college at Rangamati for advancement of the region through expansion of education with providing ICT-based modern education facilities, she added.
Initiatives have been taken to resolve land disputes, she said, adding that the CHT is no more a backward locality because of the timely steps taken by the government.