27 May 2011
Muktasree Chakma Sathi
Bangladesh said that there was no ‘indigenous population’ in the country and raised objection to the study of the UN Permanent Forum on Indeginous Issues on the status of the implementation of the CHT Accord of 1997 claiming that the accord had nothing to do with ‘indigenous issues.’
The country clarified its stand over indeginous isses in the ongoing 10th session of the UN forum at the UN headquarters in New York on May 25, said the International Jumma Organisation.
Iqbal Ahmed, the first secretary of the Bangladesh mission to the United Nations, represented the country in the a session especially marked for discussions on the report prepared by UN special rapporteur Lars Anders Baer as no official delegation from the country attended.
A high-level delegation from Bangladesh, led by the state minister for CHT affairs, Dipankar Talukdar, cancelled their trip to New York at the last minute.
‘Bangladesh does not have any “indigenous’ population”.… The Accord has nothing to do with “indigenous issues” and therefore, the government of Bangladesh reiterates its position that the forum, which is mandated to deal with “indigenous issues”, does not have any locus standi in discussing the issues related to the CHT Peace Accord,’ Iqbal told the session.
‘We urge the (UN) forum to dedicate its valuable time to discuss issues related to millions of indigenous people all over the world and not waste time on issues politically concocted by some enthusiastic quarters with questionable motives.’ he added.
Iqbal termed ‘out of context’ Paragraph 56 and 58(a) of the Baer report. Paragraph 56 suggests the development of a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen human rights records of the military personnel before allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations.
Paragraph 58(a) recommends that the department of peacekeeping operations should prevent human rights violators and alleged human rights violators within the security forces of Bangladesh from participating in international peacekeeping activities under the United Nations.
During his fact-finding mission, Baer met civil administration of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and members of the cabinet, including the ministers for foreign affairs, CHT affairs, law, and land, as well as the permanent representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations. He also presented the draft report to the Bangladesh government but did not receive any response.
The government delegations from Denmark and Guatemala, international Indigenous People’s representatives, and international human rights groups, however, differed on Iqbal’s view and said that Bangladesh had not done enough to implement the accord.
They also questioned the government’s sincerity about the implementation of the accord, delay in accord implementation and continuation of militarisation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. They demanded immediate withdrawal of all temporary army camps from the hill tracts and rehabilitation of the inhabitants.
UNPFII member Raja Devasish Roy, who is also the traditional chief of the Chakma community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, said, ‘The permanent forum is mandated to deal with issues of indigenous peoples, irrespective of what term the governments use to refer to their indigenous peoples: “tribes” or “ethnic minorities” or otherwise.’
Referring to the parties to the accord, Devashish said that the state reneges on its promises and the non-state party has no other option but to approach the United Nations.
Mangal Kumar Chakma of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, which signed the 1997 accord on behalf of the hill people, said, ‘Lack of sincere political commitment and hostile bureaucracy, both civil and military, are the main elements hindering the implementation of the CHT accord.’
Steen Hansen of the Danish delegation said that Denmark would like to encourage Bangladesh to set up a roadmap with a timeframe to implement the accord.
Andrew Erueti of the Amnesty International and the IWGIA termed the progress of the accord ‘painfully slow.’
UNPFII members Daley Sambo and Saul Vicente, Tarcila Rivera of the Global Women’s Caucus, U Kyaw Zan of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizen’s Committee, Wasfia Nazreen of Ain o Salish Kendra, Lina Lushai of the Kapaeeng Foundation and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Andrea Carmen of International Indian Treaty Council and Niko Walkeapaa of Saami Council also made responses to the statement of Bangladesh.
Courtesy: New Age