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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Press conference on the occasion of 13th Anniversary of the CHT Accord PCJSS demands roadmap to implement the CHT Accord

Press conference on the occasion of 13th Anniversary of the CHT Accord
PCJSS demands roadmap to implement the CHT Accord
Press conference on the occasion of 13th anniversary of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord was held by the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), only political party of indigenous Jumma peoples in CHT and one of the signatories of the Accord, at Sundarban Hotel in Dhaka. President of the PCJSS Mr. Jyotorindra Bodhipriya Larma briefed the journalists about the present state of implementation of the Accord.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, Information and Publicity Secretary and Shaktipada Tripura, Organising Secretary of PCJSS, Elderly politician Pankaj Bhattacharya of Gano Forum, Sanjeeb Drong of Bangladesh Adivasi Parishad, Prof Mesbah Kamal, secretary of Adivasi Adhikar Andolon, Rabindra Nath Soren of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad and Bablu Chakma, President of Hill Students Council (PCP) were also present at the press conference.
Demanding announcement of a roadmap to implement the CHT Accord, Mr. Larma said two years have passed since this government took the office but it is yet to take any fruitful and effective actions to implement the Accord. Due to non-implementation of the Accord, the situation remains the same like before. He said that the process for implementation of the Accord had been stalled for lack of political will on the part of the government. No steps had been taken as yet to protect the character of indigenous-majority of the CHT region; rather conspiracies continued to turn the CHT into a predominantly Muslim area.
He opined that no major authority has been given to the CHT Regional Council (CHTRC); rather it had been ignored deliberately by every office concerned. He also claimed that though the government had in its electoral commitment to fully implement the Accord, but the most important departments and subjects, including general administration, coordination and monitoring of law order, land management, police (local), forest and environment, secondary education etc, were yet to be handed over to the three Hill District Councils (HDCs).
“So far the government is only promising to implement the Accord. But no effective steps have been taken to secure life and properties of the indigenous peoples living in CHT,” he said. “Rather, many indigenous peoples have been evicted from their land and the conspiracy of making the Muslim a majority in the CHT region still goes on,” he added.
“CHT Accord Implementation Committee is not functioning actively due to lack of political sincerity by the government to execute the Accord fully.” Santu Larma complained. He mentioned that the Accord is the only solution to make the CHT stable and peaceful, he said the prime minister received an international award by signing this accord so it is a moral duty of this government to implement the accord effectively. “So, the government should have implementation of the CHT accord in its priority list,” he said.
While evaluating the steps of the government, Mr. Larma said the government has so far recast some committees and appointed indigenous people in some posts like state minister for CHT affairs, Taskforce on Rehabilitation of Repatriated indigenous refugees and IDPs, chairman of CHT Development Board, CHT Land Commission and recasting of CHT Accord Implementation Committee. He also mentioned withdrawal of a brigade and 35 temporary camps from the CHT region as one of the tasks the government has done.
At the press conference, Santu Larma also said the present government has cancelled lease allocations of 593 plots, out of 2,000 on 50 thousand acres of land. “But still the leaseholders are occupying the land. They are now trying to make a fresh lease contract of that land,” he said. He also said around 9,780 indigenous families, out of 12,222 who returned from Tripura of India are yet to get back their land.
He said the clauses of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 which were ‘contradictory’ to the Accord were yet to be amended and the commission chair was triggering controversies by unilaterally announcing a cadastral survey. ‘Although an individual from indigenous community has been made state minister for CHT affairs ministry, activities of the ministry are against the implementation of the CHT Accord and the interests of indigenous peoples.’
‘Instead of implementing the deal, the government is carrying out contrary to its provisions such as its move to form a so-called strategic management forum to undermine the special governance system in CHT, announcement of a cadastral survey before settling the land disputes and unabated acquisition of lands,’ he said.
Santu Larma said the High Court ruling cancelling the 5th amendment to the constitution had cleared the way for constitutional recognition of the indigenous peoples and called for constitutional protection of the CHT Accord, and recognition of political, economic and socio-cultural rights of the ethnic minorities and their traditional land rights in the constitution.
He also asked the government to prioritise with due legal importance the appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the High Court ruling that had declared formation of CHTRC illegal. He referred to prime minister Sheikh Hasina who had said, ‘They had surrendered arms and signed the treaty placing their faith in the government and we cannot betray their trust,’ and lamented that such sincerity still remained rhetoric.
Mr. Larma demanded an end to what he said ‘military rule’ in the CHT region in the name of Operation Uttaran, withdrawal of temporary camps of army, armed police, ansars and VDP from the CHT.
The demands of PCJSS also include making the CHTRC and three HDCs active, banning the united people democratic front (UPDF).
Mr. Larma demanded of the government to ban the activities of the terrorist organisation United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF). He accused the UPDF activists of involvement in anarchy and terrorism in the CHT region. Replying to a question he said, a vested section of all the governments had fostered the UPDF activists to hinder implementation of the Accord and to destroy Jumma peoples’ movement led by the PCJSS. Mr. Larma also accused the UPDF activists of killing more than 200 people in the CHT, including 65 activists of PCJSS during the past 13 years.
He announced that marking the 13th anniversary of CHT Accord signing on 2 December 2010, the PCJSS will hold daylong discussion at the Institute of Diploma Engineers in Dhaka while local party units would stage processions and rallies in every district and upazila headquarters in CHT.

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