Bangladesh: Civil society groups demand answers about disappeared indigenous woman activist

On the occasion that marks 22 years since the enforced disappearance of Kalpana Chakma in 1996 from her home in the Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT), civil society organisations and indigenous activists in Bangladesh called upon the government to make public the judicial report on her disappearance.

Kalpana, the then organising secretary of Hill Women’s Federation (HWF), was abducted from her home at remote Niulalaghona village in Baghaichhari Upazila of Rangamati in the early hours of June 12, 1996. Her family accused an army officer and two members of the Village Defence Party.

Following her abduction, a judicial committee headed by a retired Judge was formed in September 1996. The committee interviewed 94 people including prime suspect Ferdous Kaiser Khan of Kojoichhari army camp in Rangamati. However, the judicial inquiry report was never made public.

Speakers at a remembrance program organised at Dhaka on Monday have blamed the government for not making any breakthrough in the case even after 22 long years. HWF and Bangladesh Adivasi Nari Network (BANN) demanded that the judicial report should be made public. The organisations also demanded full implementation of the peace treaty and ensuring the security of women in the hills.

Speaking at the event, rights activist and Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission member, Sultana Kamal criticised the government for its failure to find Kalpana and called upon every conscience citizens to reiterate the demand for justice.

“Kalpana was abducted because of the prevailing culture of impunity”, she said.

Kalpana’s disappearance took place against the backdrop of decades-long conflict and tension between the Indigenous Peoples of the Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) and the government of Bangladesh. The CHT had witnessed long periods of violence, repression and grave human rights violations.

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