Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Indigenous Women working for Change (In memory of Kalpana Chakma)

Kalpana Chakma addressing a rally in Baghaichari, Chittagong Hill Tracts, November 1994

One of the main challenges I have found in creating change to the situation of women of the Jumma Indigenous community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh where I was born, is the inherent danger that exists in speaking out. Things have changed, but even today, highlighting the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military in the region is not without its risks. The situation was very bad during the 25 yr long conflict that kept the area out of the eye of the international community for so long. The reports of atrocities and massacres were largely ignored and swiftly denied by the Government of Bangladesh and the Army. There are so many women and girls who have suffered brutal rapes at the hands of the military and settlers. One activist Kalpana Chakma, who was disappeared by the Army in 1996, remains a reminder to all of us of the culture of impunity that exists. Lt Ferdous who led her abduction has never been properly investigated or punished for his actions. http://www.newagebd.com/2010/jun/12/special/special.html

The solutions to these problems come from the roots of the conflict and displacement. Many Jummas have gone abroad to study or have sought asylum due to political activities back home. The diaspora Jummas work closely with Jummas from the CHT to bring out unheard stories. There are large Jumma populations in the US, Australia, Canada, India and the UK. These citizens seek accountability from their new Governments for the rights of the Jumma and ensure their tax dollars are spent appropriately. Bangladesh is a huge recipient of foreign aid and development. The Jummas have been able to campaign for greater scrutiny of the situation in the CHT. The internet and Web 2.0 has been central to making this happen. They are also able to bring the stories from the village direct to the international politicians and decision makers. Although, one of the most important steps has been in getting forward thinking Bengalis and activists in Bangladesh to support the Indigenous movement.

I would like to use World Pulse and other online networks to build on this campaigning work and to encourage more women who live in the CHT to join World Pulse and share their experiences, as well as encouraging other women from conflict or post conflict zones to contribute to lasting solutions for peace. I want to reignite a campaign to look at greater accountability of UN Peacekeepers and military personnel, and work with NGOs to set up an international blacklist of human rights abusers, who should NEVER serve on UN Peacekeeping missions.

The possibilities are endless and I think continuing dialogues started during the VOF process is an exciting step. May be in order to move forward and put the past behind us, a form of truth and reconciliation is needed. I would like to learn from women from conflict zones what solutions they have found, that respect the memories of our fallen sisters. We can never forget their sacrifice.

A soldier stands guard after recent communal violence in Baghaihat, CHT, 2010
The body of a Chakma man, a victim of the violence in Baghaihat, CHT 2010
A Buddhist temple and villages were destroyed during the attacks
Villages from Baghaihat distraught after the attacks

Comments

Dear Ina,

This is a brilliant assignment. You have an great combination of personal experience, fact and vision. I think there are many women on PulseWire whom you could talk to about their experiences, and maybe help get some guidance on starting a peace and reconciliation process. If you want to learn more about that, you could perhaps post on the Resource Exchange and see if there is anyone who can help mentor you in this process.

Kind regards and keep up the good work,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Ina Hume's picture

Thanks- too much to fit in

Dear Rachel,

Thanks so much- wow I am glad you think the assignment is good. There were so many many issues and challenges that i went through that were very practical, but i could not write about all of them, so i thought it was better to focus on one. And this issue of impunity and how vulnerable activists, human rights defenders and women are in the Hill Tracts is one close to my heart. Nearly everyone from the region has lost a friend or relative because of the conflict. Last year we were campaigning hard to get Ranglai Mro released, as he had been arrested and tortured for his work to stop an artillery training base being built in his area.

There was even a recent visit of the CHT Commission to the region to interview and research the violence in Baghaichari when villages were burnt and some Indigenous people murdered. There are reports of the Army insisting on having the door of the room ajar with someone outside taking notes, and asking the Commission for names and addresses of people they spoke to. The sad thing is that so few people know about what is going on, and the Army continues to act with impunity.

I will definitely post the Resource Exchange. And there are some moves afoot, to set up something to look at the Peacekeeper issue in Asia- perhaps with support from Amnesty and International Commission of Jurists.

What i want help and ideas for is the idea of a blacklist-which is not managed or controlled by any government or UN agency, and allows people to submit information about abuses anonymously and safely- perhaps more like wikileaks.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderfully supportive comments, i had a really stressful week with my work and personal health and it was touch and go as to whether i would be able to complete the assignment this week. But, it is good discipline for me to keep doing something every week which is so positive and part of this wonerful network of fantastic women. And when i feel sorry for myself i look at the other women who are writing their stories and assignments under much worse conditions than me, it makes me humble and proud to be part of this great process.

Take care and best wishes,

Ina

Farona's picture

Ina ! It's really wonderful

Ina !
It's really wonderful to have you on Pulse ! From a very young age, I have been extremely interested in indigenous community of Chittagong. And I rarely heard stories from there.
I am glad you're bringing out deeply disturbing incidents taking place to foster lasting change. IIt's important that you present and include mainstream Bangladeshi intellectuals, writers, business community. Hope you can unite the whole country to fight your community's oppresion.

With Love and Good Wishes

Dear Farona,

Thank you very much- your comments mean alot to me. It really is the way forward and as I mentioned in the assignment this really has been the most important step for the Indigenous Peoples movement in Bangladesh-when the mainstream Bangladeshis started to become more aware of the situation and when the national newspapers started to publish sympathetic articles about what has been going on.

There have been some high profile incidents and cases that have been reported and also protests that have been held in Dhaka in support of the Peoples of the CHT.

Unfortunately, there still remains alot to do and a good deal of negative feeling about the Indigenous Peoples, but things have definitely changed in the years since the signing of the Peace Accords.

There are many many interesting stories from the CHT. I focussed on one aspect, but there is so much amazing stuff that happens as well- the ceremonies and culture of the Indigenous Peoples is unique and wonderful too. I think through an appreciation and respect for each others culture the people of Bangladesh can move forward in a positive way.

Thanks Farona, Love,

Ina

Farona's picture

It’s really refreshing to

It’s really refreshing to read your voice ! Yes, the progress I think is still in baby-steps. Much needs to be done.

Negative attitude and lack of appreciation still persists in the mainstream. My dad comes from Khulna, and I learned a lot from him about different communities in Bangladesh at a young age, I also studied in bangla till grade 9, English was my third language ! and it was through textbooks I initially got interested into the diverse culture of the country.

I do get a glimpse of the rich culture via some satellite channels from Bangladesh. But that’s just about it – But I am glad mainstream media is at least trying to portray a different picture.

Keep up the good work !

alia's picture

Great Great Great , Ina you

Great Great Great , Ina you inspired me so much , i love your writing so powerful , i agree with you that we should talk more about women in conflict zones they need all our support and voices , iam proud of women like you who are fighting and speak up inspit of all diffculties they face.

"that respect the memories of our fallen sisters. We can never forget their sacrifice" i was going to talk about the same thing in my fourth assignment , there were and still alot of great women who have sacificed for us for women rights , why many women forget them and became so weak , they forget that our task in this life not just to dress well and enjoy life , we have to think about the poor and weak women who still treated as objects , we should think more about our sitaution as educated women , if we are free enough or we should fight more and more ?

thanks my friend Ina

with love
Alia

Ina Hume's picture

Thanks Alia

I really love getting your comments and support for the assignments and love reading yours as well. It is always inspiring to feel connected with people across the national boundaries that divide us. We realise that words and feelings connect us.

And it is true that we have all been inspired and known people who have sacrificed so much. Maybe not always in the sense of their lives, but also with the way that they live their lives and have forgone things and opportunities and not always taken the easy road.

I look forward to reading your fourth and final assignment. And hope we can stay in touch after this special time of reading and sharing.

Love,

Ina

alia's picture

sure we would keep in touch

sure we would keep in touch always . i posted yesterday my last assignment and waiting for your comment

with love
Alia

Valerie from Oregon's picture

Insightful and Inspiring!

Hello Ina!
I'm one of the listeners for your Week Three assignment that I found to be powerful and moving. I certainly understand why you are so passionate about giving voice to women of the Jumma Indigenous community in Bangladesh. I am awed by people like you who have devoted their lives to helping others, “often voiceless and invisible” as you mention in your bio. Through first hand experience, you understand how to harness the power of the Internet to influence political and social change. Thank you for the insight and positive vision that you bring to the online community. All the best as a Voices of the Future applicant!
Your friend,
Valerie Harrington

laurabstull's picture

Incredibly Insightful!

Dear Ina,

Your posting is beautifully written, and I believe it captures the spirit of what WorldPulse hopes to achieve with PulseWire and the Voices of Our Future program. You are clearly passionate and knowledgeable on the subject. Most inspiring is your goals for the future. In the process of change, you seek to strengthen global ties, nurturing relationships with others and learning from their own trials. By taking such a positive-minded view in moving forward, I believe you will make a difference in the lives of the Jumma community members.

I wish you the best of luck in your journey, and I hope that WorldPulse can assist you in attaining your goals!

I can't wait to read more from you!

Laura

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

CAMEROON: Forced Into Marriage at 14

CAMEROON: Forced Into Marriage at 14

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative