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Unfulfilled promises and elusive peace on Bangladesh hills

Despite a 1997 peace treaty, the Chittagong Hill Tracts remains wracked by conflict

Unfulfilled promises and elusive peace on Bangladesh hills

Indigenous people in Bandarban district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeast Bangladesh. The 1997 Peace Accord ended an armed insurgency but the region is still rife with sectarian conflicts. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/ucanews)

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, also known as Santu Larma, is one of the most prominent indigenous leaders in Bengali Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

His high profile is not merely due to his long political career but more to do with a historic peace accord that ended more than two decades of bloody armed insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of southeast Bangladesh.

Larma, 75, is an ethnic Chakma and president of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (United Peoples Party of the CHT or PCJSS), a regional political party. Following years of negotiations, the ruling Awami League government and Larma, on behalf of the PCJSS, signed the CHT Peace Accord on Dec. 2, 1997.

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But 22 years on, ethnic leaders like Larma as well as rights activists allege that major promises of the peace treaty remain largely unimplemented.

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