Jerry Allen: Expulsion from Bangladesh

[Editor’s Note: Jerry Allen submitted this article about his experience in CHT to several deshi media outlets, who did not print it. AoD is printing it today in its entirety.]

Expulsion from Bangladesh
By Jerry Allen

Jerry Allen
Jerry Allen

In the summer of 2011 I was forced to leave Bangladesh due to fabricated press stories. I was a victim of anti-foreigner sentiment resulting from the politics and security situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Since then other foreign tourists and NGO workers have been expelled or harassed from Chittagong Hill Tracts as well.

The experience was frightening, but also puzzling. I could not understand why I was a threat or why people, who obviously had resources, did not like my presence. It has taken me a long time to write the full story and to consider the reasons.

The role and perception of NGOs in developing countries needs to be examined as the result of incidents like this.


I went to Bangladesh in October 2010 to work to help the country and its people. I am a management consultant, who for 25 years managed projects for the British Government. I came to Bangladesh with the belief that I could help by advising on management processes. Bangladesh has problems that seem overwhelming to foreigners. We see people living on chars (temporary river islands), children breaking ships and the Dhaka traffic. We read the staggering numbers of people who are displaced each year by flooding. As a result, naïve and condescending foreigners like me think that Bangladesh should welcome international advice. However after many hours of police interviews, I realise that there is deep suspicion of us.

I was placed in Bandarban in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) to work on a project funded by UNDP to build the confidence of the indigenous leadership.

Before I came to Bangladesh I had travelled widely in South Asia, but I knew nothing about the CHT, about its unique ethnic and cultural mix. I was not a politically active person, though I felt strongly about Palestine and the actions of the west in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was assigned to the Bohmong Chief Circle’s office. But when I arrived I was not permitted into the office where the work was done and the main person I was to work for would not meet me. There was already deep suspicion.

I informed UNDP and I asked several times to be given work to do. “Just enjoy yourself”, I was told by the UNDP management. After doing some English teaching I was eventually asked to do a study of the traditions and customary laws of the unique local people of the area. This required attending many cultural events and visiting remote areas. I loved doing this and, in hindsight, probably loved it too much for the Bangladeshi authorities to understand.


The police watched me from the moment I arrived in Bandarban and I received regular phone calls asking where I was in evenings. I accepted this, as I was for most of the time the only person there who was not local or Bengali and I rarely stayed at home.

One night I arrived back at my apartment after the gates were locked and had to climb over a high wall. I looked around in the dark empty streets and noticed a fit, Bengali with a neat haircut about 20 meters away. He was happy to help me over the wall. It was only later I realised that there was always someone 20 metres away.

Bandarban is a town of 2 halves. There are the indigenous locals who have been there for several hundred years and there are the Bengali newcomers, who see Bandarban as a new frontier with economic opportunity.

From my home, if I went to the main street and turned left I would be in an area that was noisy, male dominated and commercially oriented. As a foreigner in this part of town I was seen as a source of income, so I was harassed by shopkeepers and had to negotiate prices. Getting taxis was always painful. Meat fried in oil and flat breads dominated the food in this area. It was like many bazaars that I had enjoyed throughout South Asia and all the way to Istanbul. There were many soldiers on the street who were on or off duty. This is the nature of most frontier towns.

But if I turned right on the main street it was peaceful and colourful. The indigenous people were very shy at first but extremely generous and hospitable. Women confidently walked in the streets and it was women that seem to do most of the trading. I was not harassed and did not have to bargain for prices. The food was based on dried fish, bamboo and interesting meats and vegetables. It was similar to the food of the east. Social drinking in friendly bars was the culture of the evening, as it is in England.

There is no question which end of town I found friendlier and more interesting. In fact, within a few weeks I realised that the indigenous part of town was the friendliest place I had ever experienced and wanted to stay for the rest of my life. I went to many cultural and religious events, was invited to weddings and soon loved the dancing and music. But in hindsight my growing love was looked on with suspicion.

The approach to life of the indigenous people was refreshing. I am no anthropologist, but I came to realise they had learnt to survive in small village communities; so being shy of foreigners is natural. Kinship and strong, unwritten moral bonds are essential. This is demonstrated in the social drinking and the importance of preserving the culture. Trading is less important, when land is communally owned.


From April 2011 onwards it was apparent that I was under greater surveillance. My daughter visited. They were extremely suspicious and persistently asked to see papers.

From then on different branches of the police would interview me, often several times a week. I did not take it seriously enough at first, but it was annoying that they would continually want to see the same documents.

In June 2011 a change to the Bangladesh constitution increased the tension in the area. At first I did not understand the significance of the change. However to me it was very apparent that the security institutions were getting more vigilant because they realised the change was an insult to the local people, as it implied that Indigenous people are backward.

The police interviews lasted up to 3 hours and usually involved several policemen. On 31st July, 12 policemen held me in a room for an hour without actually asking anything. They were just being threatening. I remember the date, because the day before there had been a triple murder and the attempted rape of a 13-year-old Marma indigenous girl in a nearby village.

During these many interviews no evidence was presented of any wrongdoing, though some allegations were made. Allegedly I had 2 passports and had been a Tamil Tiger, which was totally fabricated.


Journalists and others started to wonder why I was being investigated; so the police had to feed them some news; and the spiral of suspicion was sustained.

Worryingly, articles started to appear in the local newspapers. Apparently “intelligence sources confirmed” I had been a Tamil Tiger and had 2 passports.

I could not establish who invented the stories, but I have a strong suspicion that they originated in the Bohmong Raja’s Office.

It had been made aware to me that the man (known locally as the “Richest Man in Bandarban”) who runs the office in the Raja’s garden sells the Permanent Residency Certificates for 1,000 taka. The former Raja would sign entire books of blank certificates. It was a condition of the 1997 Peace Accord that the 3 Rajas (Circle Chiefs) must have the power to determine who can own land in the CHT. (I became an expert on the land laws and the erosion of the 1900 “rules”.) Therefore, it could be argued that the Permanent Residency Certificate is the only part of the Peace Accord that was actually implemented. – And now they were selling them!

UNDP had provided a 6 room modern office with several computers, a photocopier and printer. The equipment was totally unused and, in some cases, unusable, as the mice had eaten parts. During my time a family of settlers moved into the new office and paid rent to the “Richest man” who was responsible for the office. I am entirely sure that UNDP are aware of this.

The “Richest man” was probably the only person who knew about the passport number error that resulted in the 2 passport myth and this is probably the source of the initial stories that started the police and press harassment. It is he that did not want me in the office where I was supposed to work.

As a naive English man it surprised me that local people in Bandarban were not more angry about activities that were so widely known. However the acceptance of corruption is always a surprise to Europeans working abroad.

The police asked the old Raja’s son why I was in Bandarban. His reply implied that UNDP imposed me upon them. This was completely untrue and was not helpful to the position of UNDP. He admitted that he had not read the papers on me before signing them. Of course, to the security police this promoted the suspicion that foreign organisations were placing people in the CHT in order to agitate.

The police harassment and press articles continued. I became the subject of national as well as local press. The Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban met me in mid August to express his concern at stories that were being circulated about my alleged “activities”. As I result I promised to stay in the “safe” end of Bandarban and not to talk to the press.

At that meeting he implied that there was interest in me in more powerful places, and he nodded across to the military cantonment. I learnt much from that small nod. Unfortunately after our last meeting the press coverage increased.

On Friday, 19th August 2011 I was given 2 hours notice to leave Bandarban, because the same untrue stories were being broadcast on national TV news (ATN). While I was packing, the local UNDP chief phoned me and blamed me for the TV coverage.

I went to Dhaka, but on Friday 26th August I was asked to leave Bangladesh. No reason was given, except the invented stories. No official person told me directly why I was expelled. No allegations that could be substantiated were put in front of me.

In a newspaper article the Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban said it was a result of continued press stories. I have asked many times since for a reason. Eventually I was informed that police authorities in Dhaka said it was because of “public interpretation of press stories”.

Jerry Allen at cultural function in CHT

I have seen copies of many of the press stories written about me at that time. The papers that printed stories included Protidin, Jugantor, Amader Shomoy, and Coxs Bazar News.

Translation of article: JerryAllen_BanglaNews24

According to them I was accused of the following:

1. Having 2 passports – Even after a letter from the British High Commission disproved this.

2. Being a Tamil Tiger during the 1990s. Nonsense!

3. Not having a visa. Though when I left Bangladesh, it was with a visa that was valid until the 30th September and a work permit, which the authorities had seen many times.

4. Meeting people with strong political views. I met almost everyone in the friendly, indigenous side of Bandarban, and it is likely that I did inadvertently meet someone who disagrees with the government. Though local people constantly worry about land and about their culture, I was never in any conversation where any separatist or violent ideas were discussed.

5. “Contradictory activities” and “Provoking unrest” were also mentioned in the papers. No one presented examples or evidence of these activities.

6. “Participating” in a rally in Bandarban on the 9th August 2011. I was in Dhaka that day. Coincidently, I had conversations with policemen in Dhaka at an Oxfam meeting the day before. I attended another NGO meeting in Dhaka on the 10th August. It would be impossible to travel back and forth in the intervening day.

A particular photo, which was used by the press to show me at the rally in Bandarban that day, appears to have been taken at an event in July. It shows me sitting smiling on the pavement on an obviously hot day, though on the 9th August 2011 there was torrential rain in Bandarban! After I left Bangladesh, this photo became the main evidence of wrongdoing.

The 9th August is World Indigenous day, and after 2011 the government gave orders that this day must not be celebrated in Bangladesh. So I was again the victim of other agendas and bad timing.

I do not consider sitting and smiling as “participating”! But looking back I realise that every time I walked down the friendly end of Bandarban for noodle soup or tea, I was watched by the security agencies and considered to be “participating” in political activity.

During my many interviews, the police would produce a file that steadily grew. Whenever they brought the file out I would worry that I may have actually done something wrong! But the file contained nothing of any substance. The most incriminating “evidence” showed photos of me doing things like clapping, which they said was evidence of encouraging local insurgency. I attended various events as part of documenting local culture and building confidence. In one long interview a senior policeman produced a photo of me clapping at what was clearly a cultural event and said: “Is this you clapping? You are provoking!”

My supposed attendance at any specific rally was not an issue in any of my police interviews. The photo of me on the pavement only became important after I left Bangladesh.

I remember the faces of the policemen during the long, traumatic interrogations and wonder whether they believed the nonsense they were investigating. It was clear that they could not understand altruism. They were insistent that someone was funding me and there must be an ulterior motive.

They also had no understanding of the indigenous people at the other end of town, whose culture is foreign and to be mistrusted by Bengalis according to the police authorities. I remember during a relaxed phase, advising them on community policing and the lessons the British learnt in Northern Ireland. Totally bizarre!

It is the local journalists that I have the most disappointment in. They probably propagated these stories for their personal gain, without realising the damage they can do to a person’s life. The recent horrendous incidents of destruction in Ramu also seem to been inflamed by local journalists.

I must reiterate that no official has ever produced evidence of any wrongdoing or told me I was being expelled because of any action. After I left, the press stories, with the same nonsense, increased for a while and some absurd extras were added.

To further complicate the situation, at that time when local people in the CHT heard of my story, I was seen as a minor hero. It did not help my situation at that time. It appeared that the indigenous people also started to believe the stories of me being a political agitator.

Soon after I left, leaflets were distributed and posted in the streets on Bandarban with more absurd stories about me. These included stories of me having affairs with local women and even homosexual relationships (the latter is illegal in Bangladesh, as a residue of colonial era laws). It is significant that the people I was alleged to have had relationships with were all NGO and human rights workers. It was apparent that people were trying to discredit a whole community, and I was a pawn in a larger game.

The fact that people made so much effort really puzzles me! Who had I offended? Whoever produced the leaflets had resources and appears to have been threatened by my presence on the streets on Bandarban.

Other foreigners have been expelled from Bangladesh since then due to working in CHT, and others have been harassed. For example, a Swedish journalist and an American NGO worker were expelled in the summer of 2012. There are now rules restricting the activities foreigners can do in CHT. The activities of the CHT Commission were severely restricted when they visited Bandarban in November 2011. According to the Daily Kaler Kantha, government sources said “this decision was taken after proof had been found of unethical and anti-state activities by some foreigners who had come to the CHT in the name of human rights and religion.” No proof or examples are ever presented.

I was often mentioned in the subsequent news stories. The reason for my expulsion is now given as “participating at a rally”, because the one photo remains as the only supposed evidence. Hopefully, you understand that there was far more to it, particularly the several months of surveillance and harassment by press and police before that photo.

Journalists and security personnel throughout the world generate and exaggerate stories to keep their jobs. For a while I was a minor news story that paid somebody’s wages. But the leaflets distributed after I left show a more sinister involvement. There are definitely interested groups who seize the opportunity to show that the problems of the CHT are the fault of foreigners. There are also those who do not want the world to know what is happening in the CHT.

Before the 2012 Indigenous Day, there were accusations that foreigners were inciting indigenous people to celebrate indigenous culture.

Bangladeshis are welcoming and hospitable to foreigners. I had the privilege to be at the game in Chittagong when Bangladesh beat England in the Cricket World Cup in Chittagong. Leaving the ground the seven England fans had to walk through several hundred thousand Bangladesh fans on the way to the ground to celebrate. This was a huge spontaneous display of national pride, but without the xenophobia that often accompanies nationalism. The seven of us felt safe, welcomed and honoured and we really enjoyed the experience. These were not people who disliked foreigners.

In contrast, on 2nd October, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, the Leader of the Bangladesh Parliament and the Chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord Implementation National Committee made an unsubstantiated statement on foreign NGOs at a meeting of the military sponsored organisation called the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

She said that foreigners “over sympathised” with indigenous people. “Foreigners are taking money to the CHT, which is not helping to solve the problems there.” “This type of arrangement is only to create instability in the hilly area.” She implied that foreign donations lead to separatism.

Why does one of Bangladesh’s political leaders want to stop foreigners helping its most marginalised people? No evidence or examples of foreign NGOs creating instability was presented at the meeting or has ever been presented. But the unfounded allegations continue and at a high level.

There is no evidence of a desire by foreign governments to interfere in the CHT. I would say the rest of the world cares little about the CHT, it is lost in the myriad of many micro-crises all over the world. Therefore, the stories of foreign interference are internally generated for some other agenda.

There have been accusations that people like me are part of a “Christianisation” conspiracy. Anyone who knows or has investigated me will realise I am an atheist with a mistrust of any religion that tries to convert. I feel that Bangladesh should be suspicious of foreign funding if the hidden motive is to convert people, whether these funds come from the USA or from Saudi Arabia.


Bangladesh is not the only country that mistrusts foreign NGOs. Burma recently jailed 3 UNHCR workers. Save The Children has been expelled from Pakistan.

I have since worked in wealthier central Asia in the former Soviet republics between Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran. Though the introduction of capitalism has been a disaster for most people, much of the NGO work seems to be focussed on promoting capitalism and western influence. There is a considerable amount of blatant Christian proselytising. This area is strategic for a number of reasons. It has made me realise that development aid is targeted for political reasons and that all development workers must know the real reason for their posting. If we naively think we are being sent to help poor people, we can find ourselves disappointed.

So I can understand the Bangladesh officials questioning why this English man was doing on the streets of Bandarban. But assuming anti-state activities was unfair and unfounded. I was clearly not involved in any such actions.

This traumatic experience changed me. I take great interest in Bangladesh, the role of NGOs in developing countries, human rights issues everywhere and I care about the Bangladeshi people. I worry particularly about the rights of women and about violence against women in the light of recent horrific cases.

Not only was this an extremely stressful experience for me, but was also infuriating because I am innocent. It is hard to believe the Bangladesh security see me as a threat. I feel that the constitution change meant I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I would sincerely like someone to tell me the real reason for my expulsion and tell me what is in that big DSB (security police) file. I received news recently that Bandarban DSB are still asking people questions about me a year later, which I find bizarre and frightening.

The most troubling thing is that I want to return to Bangladesh very much, though I am apparently on a “list”. I love the cultural diversity of Bangladesh and believe that Bangladeshis should be proud of it.

Jerry Allen



  1. Whilst I was interested to read Mr Allen’s complaint as a fellow bideshi working in Bangladesh, I found myself increasingly unsympathetic towards his plight as the time went on. It became clear that Mr Allen had very little idea how to behave in Bangladesh and I suspect he was given very little training in cultural awareness, if any at all. I would very much say he was trapped in his own foolishness.

    I appreciate that the situation in the CHT is very different to mine up in Rajshahi division but after many years working as a foreigner, with an NGO and heavily involved with tribal people I have found nothing but hospitality and gentleness from Bangladeshis as a whole. Of course, I am not unaware of the many problems, political and social, that mar this wonderful country nor of the unrest currently gripping the land, but I have always found myself to be treated with courtesy and respect. I hope this is because I have shown courtesy and respect back along the way.

    Mr Allen’s complaint was abusive and offensive towards Bangladeshis and condescending towards the adibhasis. His accusations against the press were as unfounded as the accusations he claims were made against him. Whilst I am dismayed that Bangladesh has not yet reached a stage where all people – adibhashis and bideshis included – can have full recourse to the law, I think that Mr Allen diminishes his argument by lashing out angrily in the very same way he claims the authorities did with him.

    The only difference is that Mr Allen has no power. The authorities do.

  2. Thank you, Ken, for commenting.
    As I say – “Bangladeshis are welcoming and hospitable to foreigners”.

    Frontier towns are a poor representation of any culture, especially if they are highly militarised. There are invariably tensions between newcomers and inhabitants and there are invariably people trying to make a “fast buck” in frontier towns. One side of Bandarban is definitely a militarised frontier town and is not a typical Bangladeshi town as I point out.

    Dhaka Bengalis who support indigenous people have also been the subject of hate campaigns by the local Bandarban press. (I can give an example off-line.) It is too simplistic to see it as an ethnic division. There is suspicion of anyone who communicates with the indigenous people in the area.

    I was up against it from the beginning. I was not allowed into the office I needed to work in for obvious reasons and treated with great suspicion from day one. I should have been better supported as I point out. I can provide more details of my training “off-line”.

    But I was courteous and respectful to all people, including during the first twenty or so police interviews. But they did break me down.

    These incidents happen “throughout the world”, as I say in my article. For example you may have read of police raiding the homes of Muslim young men in Britain. The police often act based on rumour or limited evidence, but the Daily Mail, etc. will blow the story up. My experience was an extremely minor example of the same paranoid syndrome. Nowhere do I say this is a problem unique to Bangladesh. I would support one of those young men lashing out at the British press.

    My criticisms of the press are certainly founded; very well founded. They were numerous, truly ridiculous and fabricated. There was plenty of evidence though most of it is no longer available. Please believe they were very frightening.

    “Condescending” to the indigenous – This is the comment I have most difficulty answering. The people of the CHT were wonderful to me. The culture and way of life of the people of the CHT is unique, fascinating and should be preserved. (And, by “culture” I don’t just mean the dancing women image that the Bangladesh tourist board and phone adverts present. I mean culture in the widest sense.)

    We are cursed by colonial history, so we have to have extra cultural sensitivity when we complement people.
    But nevertheless I feel strongly about the 11 vulnerable cultures and I do not believe that compliments are condescension. I will unashamedly continue to use glowing compliments.

    The way I was treated by the indigenous people was truly refreshing for an over-stressed Londoner. I acknowledge an emotional involvement. My story should serve as a warning to NGO workers about getting emotionally involved. But you have to acknowledge that we do. I deliberately included photos of a foreigner getting very involved as illustration.

    I was not “abusive and offensive” towards Bangladeshis in my article. I am extremely angry towards the local press and the people who invented these stupid stories for their own benefit. I feel I have every right “lash out angrily“ at the local press and local rumourmongers. As you point out I have no power. But I have every right to shout – “I am innocent. You lied”.

    (I have gone through my article looking for evidence of your comment. Pointing out that Bangladeshis expect bartering is not a criticism. You just get on with it.)

    In terms of cultural sensitivity, please can I point out that you should not differentiate between Bangladeshi and “advashi” as you do in your comment? I did not. Indigenous people are Bangladeshi.

    Please try to visit Bandarban, though you will be watched and treated with suspicion!

    I accept I was “trapped in my own” naivety, but that does not justify the press stories. I do make points at the end that are a warning to NGO workers.

    I would sincerely welcome continuing this discussion.

  3. Jerry was a naive foreigner, that much is clear. As a result he was easily trapped in the mainkar chipa– monitored by settlers, interviewed by police, harassed by anonymous leaflets. A perfect storm.

    But one organization remains somewhat unscathed in Jerry’s narrative: the UNDP, which is not just asleep at the wheel, but also tolerating inefficiency (“just enjoy yourself”) and corruption (the use of the office).

    Now that Jerry is no longer in Bangladesh, his access to Bangladesh is limited. But he still has access to UNDP. Why doesn’t he file a formal complaint against UNDP for their inefficiency and corruption. Granted their inefficiency and corruption is nothing compared to the i+c of local Bangladeshi officials. But one “worse” does not make the “bad” good. Why not focus energy on where he can have an impact?

    However, I do hope Bangladesh government will allow you to come back and work there again. You seem to be genuine in your intent.

  4. Thank you Khujeci. You have realised that there are layers to this story.
    I could write more of my impressions and anecdotes of UNDP in CHT. And I need to decide whether I want to send a complaint.
    The problems:
    1. Much of what I will say is “impressions & anecdotes”. Without enough hard evidence, I could accused of the same things that I accuse the local press of. So I must be careful.
    2. Many of my friends are working very hard and doing excellent work on UNDP funded projects in the area. For example they are providing education in areas where the BD government is failing. Their work must not be jeopardised because there are some who are clearly enjoying themselves “at the wheel”.

    Also, UNDP behaviour in the CHT is, I am afraid, all too similar to the behaviour of other INGOs. When I worked in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami I was also disgusted by the luxury life of INGO workers while surrounded by appalling poverty.

    – Another blog for another day!

    • There’s no doubt that UNDP is not worse than other INGOs (although they are the largest, so the money waste is tremendous), and there are corrupt locals as well, but that’s not the area where YOU have leverage (nor SHOULD you). You were a contractor for UNDP, your experiences were under UNDP, you were abandoned by UNDP, etc.

      It takes no real risk to write this blog, since you don’t live in Bangladesh and ultimately you don’t have to live there. But UNDP is who you should have complained against at the least. When you first left the country. And you still can. The statute on complaints about corruption and negligence has not expired. Now that would be putting some real skin in the game, because then you would actually lose something– some future consulting work.

      Take some real risks. If you dare to file formal complaint against UNDP, you would gain a lot more respect of the local Bangladeshis (Bengali or Jumma) than through just blogging– a riskless activity.

      And not having evidence is not a reason not to proceed. You can file a complaint based on what you have witnessed. Let UNDP send their investigation team to look into it. They would do that anyway.

      Yes, the local administration is also corrupt, that local Bangladeshi activists have to fix. You cannot. But you are not taking a stance in the area where you could.

      • Khujeci, I accept and welcome your point and I will raise this with UNDP.

        In my defence, please may I say that it took me a long time to get over the initial trauma of the experience. And then my first concern was my strong desire to return to Bangladesh. I have spent a long time, far too long, trying to get the BD authorities to tell me my status and allow me to return. It would take far too long to describe the actions I have taken. I will just say that I have hit many brick walls. (They did acknowledge that they acted in response to press stories and that I am on a “list”.)

        So it is true that my obsession with wanting to freely visit BD has taken my eye off the other culprits.

        I will contact UNDP with the concerns I clearly witnessed.

        I can strongly assure you, I was not saving UNDP out of job security (losing future consulting work). I no longer need to work, so I happy to put “skin into the game” (great expression).

        I sense that you have experience of working in the INGO arena.

  5. interesting dispatch from developmentor functionary in advanced developmentshire.
    3 column works well, gets diversity of postings across without erasing too many words.
    i miss the satellite image of the delta though.

    This fragment is my favourite.

    “I went to Bangladesh in October 2010 to work to help the country and its people. I am a management consultant, …”


    • Glad you like the new design. We plan to change it every month so as to keep readers in constant turmoil. 🙂 Delta image is back, on the sidebar– your wish is our demand.

    • “Bless” – Good comment. I wrote that paragraph expecting this type of observation.

      Let me assure that I was less naive than many of the NGO workers who come to impart their wisdom on the people of Bangladesh (but insist on air conditioning and spice-less food). We are slightly silly and I am now far more aware.

      However, it makes the idea that we are a threat to Bangladesh, as expressed by Sajeda and by the security people who interviewed me, even more stupid.

      I am sure you realise the real reason why excuses are made to exclude foreigners for contentious areas, which is the main point of the story.

  6. 1) Tribals in CHT took money and arms from foreign govt and fought against Bangladesh sovereignty.
    2) Thousands of Bangladeshi troops and civilians lost their lives in the hand of tribal terrorist.
    3) Tribal organizations still have large cache of arms in their possession.
    4) Tribal leaders still threaten to use arms against Bangladesh sovereignty.
    5) Rival tribal group still use arms and terror to eliminate each other.
    6) Tribal youth and organization still run abduction and extortion throughout CHT.

    With this background of anti state activities by tribals in CHT, Jerry’s association with tribal organizations and “Holier-than-thou” self projection hardly has any credibility.

    On top of that tribal population who had migrated to CHT area hundred or so years ago are by no means or by any definition “adivashi” or “indigenous” population of the area. And most of tribal land claim are based on British colonial era legacy. Even with such fictitious imposition tribals in CHT, who are less than 1% of Bangladesh population claiming about 10% of nation land. That is absurd proposition to its core. Moreover, tribals in CHT want to treat any non tribal as outsiders in their own country. What level of discrimination is that?

    UNDP, DANIDA and other western funded NGOs are spending development fund only for tribal population CHT. That is grossly discriminatory and violates HR and even law if one pursue.

    It’s would be naïve to imagine Jerry did not or does not know about tribal terror, violent past and present and about fictitious claims on their status and land. Then question should be asked what was real purpose for Jerry to take part in such discriminatory practice of tribal only venture? Why Jerry questioning Bangladesh sovereignty over CHT by siding with anti state activities of tribal in CHT?

    • Interesting comments, Idune.
      I will endeavour to fully answer all your points as soon as possible. However I will be commenting on the history of another country and I must ensure that my facts are researched and founded. I must not be accused making unfounded comments in the same way that I accuse the Bangladesh press. So please give me a little time.

      However, to start now with your first point. Please can you tell me what Foreign governments are providing money and arms to CHT groups? I have seen reports that the British SAS is training the RAB and that middle eastern money is supporting settler activity and there is evidence that support has come from groups across the Indian and Burmese border. But I have never seen any reputable reports of support from “governments”. I did search after Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury’s extraordinary, xenophobic speech and found nothing. Please can you provide any information to support your first point.

      Please can you also tell me what “organizations” you are accusing me of associating with? Also what “anti-state activities” are you accusing me of “siding with”? The BD security authorities, after many months of investigation, had no evidence of any activities, because there were NO ACTIVITIES. If you have some evidence to support your statement please tell us.

      Please can I ask you not to use the word starting with “T” to describe indigenous people. You realise that it is deeply insulting. Perhaps “minorities” would be a compromise we can use for this discussion.
      So I will respond fully a.s.a.p., please answer my points in the meantime.

  7. I said
    “1) Tribals in CHT took money and arms from foreign govt and fought against Bangladesh sovereignty.”

    and here are reports and book reference proving it. Besides, former head of the counter-terrorism division of India’s external intelligence agency (RAW), B. Raman also revealed indian involvement with tribal terrorsists. I can not accept your explanation as thousands of Bangladeshis and Bangladesh armed force members died at the hand of these groups.

    Bangladeshi Insurgents Say India Is Supporting Them
    India backed Shanti Bahini, Burmese rebels: book

    Mon, Nov 9th, 2009 7:37 pm BdST
    By Subhra Kanti Gupta

    Kolkata, Nov 9 (–Indira Gandhi was voted out of power in 1977, just when India’s external intelligence organisation, R&AW, was preparing to substantially step up its backing for the Shanti Bahini, says Subir Bhaumik in his just-released book “Troubled Periphery:Crisis of India’s Northeast”.

    Bhaumik, a journalist and academic researcher for three decades, has provided graphic details of the R&AW’s involvement in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Burma’s Kachin Hills in his latest book. But he makes it clear the “orders came right from the top” and were not operations generated by the agency.

    “The immediate provocation for the Indian sponsorship of the Shanti Bahini guerrillas .. was the military coup that killed Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and many members of his family. To Indira gandhi, this coup was a political defiance of India .

    “Within a week of the coup, senior R&AW leaders arrived in Tripura’s capital Agartala with a clear brief for their subordinates: Get
    those Chakma leaders who want to fight Bangladesh.”

    Bhaumik’s findings is based on detailed interviews of Shanti Bahini guerrilla commanders and R&AW officials and the book is replete with such references.

    One Shanti Bahini leader tells Bhaumik about the quality of Indian training.

    “The Indian training was intensive and tough as the instructors had served with military units in Nagaland and Mizoram. The leadership element of the course was gruelling and involved war games and dummy attacks.

    “The instructors would observe how we went about the attack and whether we had absorbed the theoretical lessons. They would severely admonish us if we were found lacking. They always reminded us of the maxim that you bleed less in war if you train well in peace.”

    Indira Gandhi’s election defeat in 1977 saved Bangladesh, then grappling with mutinies and domestic unrest, from huge trouble, suggests Bhaumik.

    “Just when the Shanti Bahini were told to prepare for the big push forward and that India would support a strength of 15000 guerrillas came the news of Mrs Gandhi’s election debacle and the Congress defeat…

    “It is not clear how far Mrs Gandhi wanted to go and it is possible that, after the liberation of Bangladesh, she could see the value of a successful foreign campaign could boost her dropping popularity back home.

    “But her defeat changed the course of events . The R&AW plans to intensify the guerrilla war in Chittagong Hill
    Tracts were put on hold when Morarji Desai took over as Prime Minister. The R&AW topbrass were categorically told to lay off from CHT.”

    Bhaumik’s book says the support to Shanti Bahini was resumed when Mrs Gandhi came back to power–but by then, the Bahini was in the throes of a fratricidal war that led to the assasination of its chief M N Larma.

    It says that R&AW’s Agartala station chief at that time, Parimal Ghosh even resolved this fratricidal conflict by drafting an agreement between the two Shanti Bahini factions.

    Ghosh in 1971 was close to General (then Major) Ziaur Rahman and operated under his pseudonym Captain Hossain Ali.

    As a BSF officer, he fought at the Shuvapur bridge with the Mukti Fauj.

    Bhaumik also details how the R&AW won over the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and started giving them weapons — just to ensure they would not back any Northeast Indian rebel groups anymore.

    The man instrumental in this operation was one of the most successful R&AW operatives , B.B.Nandi, who had also served as their station chief in Dhaka.

    During Nandi’s tenure as station chief at Bangkok, he developed close links with the Burmese underground groups, specially the Kachins.

    Bhaumik says that Nandi even planted a R&AW communications team at the KIA headquarters in the early 1990s, from where they monitored the China-bound movements of the northeast Indian rebels .

    After retirement, Nandi became a fierce critic of the R&AW and the Indian government when Delhi started befriending Burma’s military junta and the BNP-Jamaat combine in Dhaka.

    Bhaumik’s book , published by Sage, details the major issues of conflict in northeast India — land,language, leadership, ethnicity, ideology , religion — and offers a policy framework for resolving the crisis.

    It says the region suffers from severe “democracy and development deficit” and argues that a secular and democratic Bangladesh and a truly federal and democratic Burma is crucial to the stability of India’s Northeast.
    (Note: bdnews24 removed the news content now but Subir Bhaumik in his just-released book “Troubled Periphery:Crisis of India’s Northeast” is available for purchase.


      “I cannot help but think, how would the cartoonist have portrayed 1971? East Pakistan, being cut asunder by, who? Aided by, who? But of course, let me add, when I compare the situation in the CHT at present to the situation confronting Pakistan in 1971, I do not do so, from any ulterior motive of advocating a break-up, or secession, or any such thing. I do it because ekattur has taught me that to survive as a nation, one must not only be able to accommodate cultural differences, but to welcome them. That what the centres of power label a `conspiracy’ is most likely, a political problem, one that must be resolved politically, never, ever, through the deployment of brute force. That genuine attempts must be made to undo historical wrongs. Before it is too late.”

      “Some claim, Bengalis are indigenous, have been so for centuries, or better still, since time immemorial. It is the paharis, who are settlers. The `tribal’ rulers are exploiters. Hilly people are extremists. They did not take up arms to resist Bengali oppression, to regain cultural autonomy, but because they are.. have always been.. for many centuries.. bandits and criminals. They abduct and kidnap Bengalis. Others write, some foreign NGOs have ulterior motives. They want the army to withdraw before amicable relations have been restored between paharis and Bengalis. Foreign forces, such as the European Union, some foreign members of the CHT Commission, have become active under cover of the Peace Treaty (1997). There are plans afoot to sever the CHT from Bangladesh, to re-make it on the lines of a Christian East Timor. Bengali settlers are being slaughtered. Their houses are being razed to the ground. Even military personnel are being attacked. Muslims are being prevented from entering their mosques. From praying. A large conspiracy is in the offing. Can such paranoid ramblings, whether depicted visually through cartoons or written out in articles, counter imperial politics?”

    • Idune, Is this your best shot?
      An article from 1989 quoting an unnamed “official” (I saw several lies from unnamed officials) and sometime about proposals in the 70s??
      Why is this relevant? Are you suggesting that I was involved with the Indian Government? Sajeda Chowdury specifically referred to “British & German” – evidence please.

      In my reply I asked about 2 accusations that you made:
      Please can you also tell me what “organizations” you are accusing me of associating with? Also what “anti-state activities” are you accusing me of “siding with”? – Please can I have an answer with evidence?
      Please can you also tell me where I ever questioned Bangladesh sovereignty of the CHT?

      By inventing these bizarre, unfounded accusations you enhance the fundamental argument in my blog.

      I am still researching a thorough response to your other point.

      • When indian officials and tribals themselves admitting arms dealing, training and instigation, are you denying tribals took arms and money from indian to conduct terrorism throughout CHT??? That does not fly by any means. Anyone who knows about CHT, knows india was involved in tribal terrorism. You are questioning year 1989, these tribal terrorist act gone on well into late nineties. Besides, Bangladesh govt is prosecuting people who opposed Bangladesh sovereignty and committed crime against Bangladeshis 40 some years ago. Many tribals committed same crime opposing Bangladesh sovereignty, killing people and defense forces for almost 30 years and not that long ago. There are more than enough reasons and proofs to prosecute tribal terrorists as well.

        I have very clearly mentioned how you are involved in ant- Bangladeshi activities by making yourself part of discriminatory, anti-state and anti-sovereign elements of tribals and their western backers. After all that you pretending to “don’t know how” is not only disingenuous but also clear sign that you are trying to hide behind deception.

        By the way, in your native land what would be implication to outsiders who is involved with anti state elements, who had 30 years long record of terrorism against state, who still possess large cache of arms, still threaten to take arms against the state and last but not least runs abduction and extortion? Please, don’t bring typical hypocritical tone to lecture and deceive, look in to your own surrounding first.

      • “Between 1979 and 1983, Bangladesh’s military rulers sponsored migration of Bengali settlers into the Chittagong Hill Tracts. An estimated 500,000 plains settlers were provided land grants, cash and rations. As is clear from the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission report, Life is not ours (1991), the programme of turning Paharis into a minority was not made public then. Government representatives had repeatedly denied the existence of such a plan.

        What does one hear now? Bengali settlement in the CHT is a thing of the past. The 1980s, yes, that was the settlement era. It was a mistake. The military rulers failed to realise it was a political problem, it should not be dealt with by force. Things are very different now. Now you may find some Bengalis going to CHT, they are following their family members. That is not settlement. How can one stop that? It sounds nice, the only problem is that it isn’t true. Settlement is still active. It seems to be at a final stage. Ina Hume, a daughter of the hills, and a careful observer of military repression wrote in 2005, a new road has been built from Baghaihat to Sajek. It borders the Mizoram hills of northeast India. She adds, there have been reports that the Bangladesh Army is involved in settling a further 10,000 Bengali families in the Kassalong Reserve Forest in Sajek. The writers of Life is not ours had noted, Pakistan, and later, the Bangladesh government had been uneasy about the borders with India and Burma being inhabited by a majority of the hill peoples. The Sajek incident, it seems, was destined to occur.

        Need I say that the proposed settlement of Bengali families in the Kassalong Reserve Forest is in direct negation of the 1997 Peace Accord? Or, that the construction of the Baghaihat-Sajek road by the Bangladesh Army Engineer Construction Battalion, in the Kassalong Reserve Forest, clearly violates the Forest Act of 1927, and the Bangladesh Forest (Amendment) Act, 2000?”

        Unidentified terrorists in the hills
        by Rahnuma Ahmed

      • Ah, yes, 1989, a very bad year in CHT. But as usual, idune selectively presents half the facts.

        “28 February 1989 – A bill is passed in Parliament to allow the creation of local governments in all three districts. These local governments would be led by a “tribal” elected by all members of the Local Government Council.

        4 May 1989 – The Shanti Bahini launches an armed response to sabotage the local governments and their electoral process, leading to the assassination of Sub-District Committee Chairman Abdur Rashid Sarkar. In retaliation, settlers attack local Chakma villages, reducing them to infernos. This incident is known as the Longdu Massacre . The martial law government takes over the electoral process, installing its own representatives.”

        “Longadu Massacre, 4/05/1989: Abdur Rashid, a Bangladeshi community leader was gunned down by an un-identified gunman. The Bangladesh authority and the Bangladeshi settlers suspect that he was gunned down by the Shanti Bahini, due to his involvement in the racially motivated crimes against the Jumma people, though Shanti Bahini denies the claims. In reprisal to Abdur Rashid’s killing the Bangladesh Army, the Village Defense Party (armed group formed by the Bangladeshi settlers) and the settlers carried out this gruesome massacre. 40 Jumma people were killed, their dead bodies never returned to the relatives. Their houses were burnt down and Buddhist temples in the area were destroyed. Among the fallen victims were the wife, children and grand-children of the former chairman of the local council Mr. Anil Bikash Chakma. The Bangladesh Army had grabbed his land and settled the Bangladeshi settlers around his homestead. Mr. A.B. Chakma’s friends and relatives had warned him of the potential danger of living so close to the Bangladeshi settlers. But he had no where else to go. On that day he was not in home, and that saved his life. Later on even after repeated appeal to the Bangladesh military authority, the dead bodies were never returned for Buddhist religous rites and cremation.”

      • Dear Idune, Please can we stick to the subject of my blog.

        Your first paragraph continues your anti-Indian rant, which I cant deny but question the relevance of. Khujeci points out that the 70s and 80s were very troubled times and many atrocities occurred. Suggesting I was linked to the Indian Government is farcical and irrelevant. We have now established that there is no evidence of western governments backing anti-Bangladeshi groups. So Sajeda Chowdury was wrong and feeding paranoia.

        Your second paragraph again makes the accusation that I was involved in anti-state activities and groups. – Please provide evidence or explain? Are you saying UNDP is an ‘anti-state element”? I am certainly not hiding behind any deception. I am being very open. The security authorities after months of investigation found no involvement in such activity – because I wasn’t!

        I welcome discussing the CHT further ( I still owe you a fuller reply to your first comment). But please remove these libellous and unfounded personal accusations.

        Your third paragraph assumes I was involved in anti-state elements. But it is interesting to compare with my own “surroundings” so to help please let me re-word your question – “ What would be the implication if outsiders were accused of being involved in supporting the Human Rights of minorities in Europe? (for example Romany people, asylum seekers, etc.)” Security people in BD asked me similar questions a couple of times. The answer that I can honestly give is that I would (and have) strongly support such outsiders. Supporting Human Rights in a peaceful way is never an anti-state activity in a democracy and the borders of “sovereignty” should have little relevance. We are all human.

        Please feel free to come to Europe and say what you like. I will support your right to say it, even though I disagree. You will find plenty of rhetorical similarity with nationalist groups (“New Dawn”, etc.). They love to talk of “terror”, “outsiders” and “sovereignty”.

  8. Khujeci, Coincidentally I re-read this article from “Between Ashes” last night.

    Bangladesh is not the only nation that has paranoid ramblers. This is an international problem and I tried to include that in my blog. Western right-wing groups continually talk about the “terror” caused by foreigners.

  9. @Jerry Allen
    Stating facts that indian writers and officials admitted are by no means “anti-india”. Fact that you using “anti” label, shows your deceptive nature of conduct.

    Where did I suggest you were involved with indian govt? Prove it. Don’t make up false claim that looks to be trend for you.

    I would repeat – I have very clearly mentioned how you are involved in ant- Bangladeshi activities by making yourself part of discriminatory, anti-state and anti-sovereign elements of tribals and their western backers. You mentioned UNDP, UNDP using discriminatory practice in tribal only development and threfore denying soverign rigts of Bangladeshis and treat them as outsiders in their own land. Once again, selective human rights of westerens. Knowingly participating in such act you can NOT deny your culpability. After all that you pretending to “don’t know how” is not only disingenuous but also clear sign that you are trying to hide behind deception.

    You are using selective definition of western human rights while ignoring sovereignty of Bangladesh and its people. I asked you question slightly modifying it) – By the way, in your native land what would be implication to outsiders, who is involved with anti state elements – elements which had 30 years long record of terrorism against state, who still possess large cache of arms, still threaten to take arms against the state and last but not least runs abduction and extortion? And if you have trouble stating the truth, look into Ireland and IRA scenario, how your native land treated those situations? Once again, don’t bring typical hypocritical tone to lecture and deceive, look in to your own surrounding first.

    • So we agree that India is irrelevant to my blog, as I had no involvement with them. – end of discussion there.
      And we previously concluded that there is no evidence of any other government involvement in the activities you suggest.

      You are saying that UNDP is involved in anti-Bangladesh activities. And, you are saying, because I was associated with them I was involved in anti-Bangladesh activities. That association seems to be the only basis of the accusation against me.

      Ok, I admit, I was involved with UNDP and that is your entire case against me. I feel it is a very weak reason to expel me.

      Write to UNDP with your unfounded opinion that they are involved in anti-Bangladesh activities. There are probably hundreds of Bangladeshis employed by UNDP and probably thousands employed on their funded projects who will challenge your idea.

      You also imply that UNDP are involved with supporting armed terrorist organisations (with a “cache of arms”, etc.). I feel you need to be very careful if you are suggesting that and need to produce evidence.

      Thanks for mentioning the Irish issue, as it perfectly illustrates the point I was trying to make in my last reply. We can re-frame your question as – “During the ‘Troubles’ of the 70s, What would be the implication of an non-European (an “outsider” in your rhetoric) being involved in an organisation that was perceived by some (i.e. by people like you who talk about “terrorists”) as supporting the rights of the Northern Irish Catholics? “

      The answer is the same as before. I would support that non-European’s right to express their opinions on the Irish situation. I would welcome the support of anyone advocating human rights and free speech. I would strongly object if that non-European were questioned or expelled for that association.

      A person’s nationality does not matter. I dislike your term “outsider”. As I said before, please feel free to come to Europe and say what you like.

      I think we are repeating ourselves and have no more to discuss. The only remaining issue is whether UNDP is involved in supporting armed groups. I find that idea preposterous. Aim it at them, not me.

      • @JerryAllen
        Don’t waste any more time. It’s not a debate, idune just keeps repeating the same mantra, and when the contradictions are shown, moves on to the next mantra. Just move on. You wrote your article. Those who want to read with an open mind, will. Those who don’t, will just keep coming up with hollow arguments.

      • I have clearly stated UNDP engaged in discriminatory activities in CHT, I would stand by it any day.
        By the way I know few people works there including a resident representative level official (in different country). That does not mean anything, no one will talk on the ground of being implicated.
        And former UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, Renata Lok-Dessallien was sure involved in anti state activities.

        As far HR record and incidents around you – you are giving way too much importance to yourself. When your state machinery acted on Irish/IRA issue or acting today in many international matters, your shouting hardly has any value; that is what I pointed out. Make difference in your own surrounding before lecturing others in foreign country.

        Good luck

  10. For khujeci et al..
    Term “Bengali settlers” is highly offensive and discriminatory to treat them as “settlers” in their own country. CHT is part of Bangladesh and its not wholly owned property of tribals by legal or by any other menas. This has been motivated ploy by tribals, their western backers and those who are absorbing money and influencing favor from western backers. Since, you guys are so dedicated on tribal cause, for better transparency why don’t you reveal how many NGOs are funded by westeren money involved in CHT and tribal issues. And how Rahnuma Ahmed, DRIK and many of you in AoD and now defunct DP are involved in western funded project and activities.

  11. @ Khujeci
    1. No one said DP is western funded project. My exact statemet was “And how Rahnuma Ahmed, DRIK and many of you in AoD and now defunct DP are involved in western funded project and activities”. Working on western funded project which I stated is different from DP being western funded project. Your deception once again very clear here.

    2 and 3. My exact statement as stated before – was DRIK (and Rahnuma Ahmed) involved in western funded project? Your earlier statement was neither DRIK nor Rahnuma Ahmed was involved in western funded project. If I am not mistaken Rahnuma Ahmed is one of founder of DRIK and DRIK, according to link I provided, works with western funded projects. DRIK is NGO or profit making organization that was never my argument, that was your false flag creation to divert conversation elsewhere.

  12. My apologies I have taken so long to respond. It looks like the conversation has moved on and, after reading idune’s rants I find myself siding more with you now Jerry. I think it is a truism to say “the best lie is a half-truth” but with idune this seems particularly apt. History tells us that those that hold to extremely aggressive views are never right.

    However, I do want to pick up on just one or two comments you made Jerry in response to my original criticism. Please do not take these as personal attacks on yourself (who I don’t know and whom, I feel, has your heart in the right place) but merely on what you wrote.

    The following statements I found condescending:
    “I went to Bangladesh in October 2010 to work to help the country and its people”
    “As a result, naïve and condescending foreigners like me think that Bangladesh should welcome international advice. However after many hours of police interviews, I realise that there is deep suspicion of us.”
    “probably loved it too much for the Bangladeshi authorities to understand”
    “but I came to realise they had learnt to survive in small village communities; so being shy of foreigners is natural”
    “However the acceptance of corruption is always a surprise to Europeans working abroad”
    “It was clear that they could not understand altruism”
    “I feel that Bangladesh should be suspicious of foreign funding if the hidden motive is to convert people”
    “If we naively think we are being sent to help poor people, we can find ourselves disappointed.”
    “I love the cultural diversity of Bangladesh and believe that Bangladeshis should be proud of it.”

    Each of these are statements where you make value judgements about Bangladeshis that I’ve heard many times before but, to an extent, are ‘telling people how they should be’. Words such as ‘help’, ‘deep suspicion of us’, ‘too much…to understand’, ‘learnt to survive’, ‘acceptance of corruption’, ‘they could not understand’, ‘should be’, ‘sent to help poor people’ and ‘should be proud’ are all judgements about Bangladeshis.

    I was also concerned in your reply with the following:
    “My story should serve as a warning to NGO workers about getting emotionally involved. But you have to acknowledge that we do. I deliberately included photos of a foreigner getting very involved as illustration.”
    In my experience it is inevitable to become emotionally involved and after 6 years here I have no regrets in that regard. I don’t think NGO workers need to be ‘warned’ in the way you are suggesting here. You’ve had a bad experience but this is more due to you not receiving the cultural training you needed before you began here.

    Finally you made the criticism:
    “In terms of cultural sensitivity, please can I point out that you should not differentiate between Bangladeshi and “advashi” as you do in your comment? I did not. Indigenous people are Bangladeshi.”
    Again this is condescending and slightly inaccurate though there is some truth. You yourself make the distinction between the two:
    “There are the indigenous locals who have been there for several hundred years and there are the Bengali newcomers” – this is very inaccurate!
    Whilst you do make the distinction of ‘Bengali’ and ‘Bangladeshi’ and I accept that perhaps I should have used the more accurate ‘Bangalee’ (Bengal does not exist any longer) instead, nevertheless you do criticise ‘Bangladeshi’ views where I am certain you are not talking about the adibhashi people in that way.

    You are right that adibhashis are Bangladeshis, but unlike Bangalees, they DO have their own cultures, languages, faiths and even genetic make-up. It is not fair to anyone to not make some differentiation – albeit without prejudice – just because they have often been treated in a racially prejudiced manner. I believe the answer to abuse is not dis-use but correct use but do apologise for mixing ‘Bangladeshi’ with ‘Bangalee’. Please bear in mind that most of my friends where I work in Bangladesh are adibhashis and I am very close to them.

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