Muhammad Ala Uddin: Continuing Conflict. Critical Transition to Peace in the Post-Conflict Southeastern Bangladesh

Abstract. – This article attempts an insight into the continuing conflict and critical transition to peace in the post-conflict Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which is located in the southeastern part of Bangladesh. It has witnessed an ethnic conflict since the mid-1970s. The situation intensified in the wake of a statesponsored transmigration program (1979 onward) into the CHT. However, to end the two-decade-long bloody conflict between the indigenous people and Bengali settlers a treaty was signed in 1997. Even though 20 years have passed since the treaty was signed, the CHT still remains neither peaceful nor secure for the indigenous people. Instead, it instigated conflicts that are even more frequent and more dreadful. Hence, peace remains elusive while conflicts continue in the hills. Given this situation, the article attempts to offer an insight into the rocky road to peace – reasons involved behind the continuation of conflict in the post-conflict CHT based on an anthropological investigation conducted between 2008 and 2014 in the CHT. Slow pace of implementation and non-implementation of various provisions of the treaty are presented as key factors for the absence of peace or ongoing conflict. The flaws of the treaty, non-acceptance by a section of the indigenous people and the Bengalis, identity politics, and local factions are also responsible for the current predicaments that eventually contributed to make the transition to peace difficult. The existing literature hardly addressed these factors. [Bangladesh, Bengali, conflict, indigenous people, security force, Accord 1997, peace]