27 May 2011
The representative of Bangladesh Government, first secretary of the Bangladesh Mission in USA, Iqbal Ahmed objected to the ‘Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord of 1997’, in the UN headquarters in New York on May 25, says a press statement. Special Rapporteur Lars Anders Baer, former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues presented the report on a study on CHT Accord.
During his fact-finding mission, Lars Anders Baer met with civil administration of CHT and members of the cabinet, including foreign minister, CHT affairs minister, law minister and land minister, as well as the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN. He also presented the draft report to the Bangladesh government, but did not receive any response.
However, in the response presented at the UN, Iqbal Ahmed objected strongly to the report, stating, "Bangladesh does not have any 'indigenous' population". He also said, "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."
In his concluding remarks, Ahmed stated, "We urge upon 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."
Raja Debasish Roy, Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, representing the indigenous peoples of the Asia region, who is also the traditional Chief of the Chakma people of CHT, looked at the larger framework of international conflict resolution.
He said: "It is important to bear in mind the asymmetry in the status of the two parties to an accord-- the state party and the non-state party. If the state reneges on its promises, what can the non-state party do but approach the United Nations?
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."
Lina Lushai, on behalf of Kapaeeng Foundation and Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Forum said, they were ‘Tribals’ and ‘Ethnic minority’. "As an indigenous person from CHT, representing indigenous people, we reject any imposed identity. We are indigenous people, and we must be recognised as indigenous peoples by our government," she said.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, Information and Publicity Secretary, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanhati Samity (PCJSS), the original signatory to the peace accord, stated, "Lack of sincere political commitment to implement the CHT Accord on the part of the government in addition to continuing de facto military rule, and hostile bureaucracy-- both civil and military, are the main elements hindering the implementation of CHT Accord
Courtesy: the independent