International watchdog Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission on Friday called on the United Nations Economic and Social Council for not responding to the Bangladesh government’s objection to the report of the 10th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to adhere to the report as it is.
The Bangladesh government raised objections to two of the paragraphs in the report which deal with the UN peacekeeping forces and wants them expunged.
The commission in a letter to the ECOSOC president, Lazarous Kapambwe, cited recent remarks of Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dipu Moni declining to give national minorities in Bangladesh the status of indigenous people and said that it had found the remarks discriminatory and disrespectful towards hill people.
It also said that Dipu Moni’s remarks reflected substantive and discriminatory misinterpretation of Bangladeshi laws and international human rights laws.
The letter said that UNFII member Devashish Roy, who is a traditional community chief in hill tracts and elected by indigenous communities in Asia, had lodged protests against Dipu Moni’s remarks which received nationwide support from national minorities and a wide section of mainstream civic forums of Bangladesh.
The commission also observed that ‘by making such objectionable remarks about the permanent forum’s report and about the indigenous peoples of the CHT, the foreign minister is also implicitly questioning the competence and expertise of the sixteen members of the Permanent Forum, which includes eight respected experts of indigenous origin and eight respected governmental experts elected by members of the ECOSOC.’
Citing newspaper reports, the letter, signed by the commission co-chairs Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Elsa Stamatpoulou, said that the reason behind the foreign minister’s statements to journalists and the diplomatic community was in fact related to ECOSOC’s current session in Geneva where the UNPFII report would be discussed.
The commission said that the Bangladesh government was serious about the two paragraphs in the report that suggests human rights screening of military personnel deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to be recruited in UN peacekeeping forces and wants the paragraphs expunged.
‘The CHT Commission would like to iterate its agreement with the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, including on the implementation of the provisions of the CHT Accord, and those addressed to the UN’s Department of Peace Keeping Operations that it should develop a mechanism to screen human rights violations committed by military personnel and that it should prevent human rights violators and alleged human rights violators within the security forces of Bangladesh from participating in international peacekeeping activities under the auspices of the United Nations,’ the letter said.
‘The CHT Commission hopes that the UN Economic and Social Council would adhere to its non-discriminatory approach and adopt the report of the 10th session of the Permanent Forum and all its recommendations, including those related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997,’ it said.
courtesy: New Age