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Monday, December 9, 2013

Democratic, non-communal and progressive people urged to be vocal for CHT Accord implementation

Democratic, non-communal and progressive people urged to be vocal for CHT Accord implementation

9 December 2013

Civic rights groups and indigenous rights activists urged the democratic, non-communal and progressive people to be vocal for implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord. They also said that although the Awami League government’s electoral pledge was to fully implement the CHT Accord, it has done nothing but making empty promises one after another in the last five years of its rule.

Civic rights groups and indigenous rights activists raised this appeal on 7 December 2013 in a human chain and roundtable discussion. The human chain was formed in front of National Press Club in Dhaka at 2:00 pm, demanding full implementation of CHT Accord of 1997 on occasion of 16th anniversary of the CHT Accord. Engineer Sardar Amin, Executive Director of ASK Advocate Sultana Kamal, Executive Director of IED Mr. Numan Ahmad Khan at el gave solidarity speeches in the human chain. Hana Shams Ahmed, human rights activists read out a written statement of the civil society group.

Human chain was followed by a round table discussion which was organized by civic rights groups in facilitation of Kapaeeng Foundation and with the support of Association of Land Reforms and Development (ALRD) at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in Dhaka. Robaet Ferdous, Associate Professor of Dhaka University moderated the round table discussion. General Secretary of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal Mr. Sharif Nurul Ambia, Poet and journalist Sohrab Hossan, General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, Executive Director of ALRD Shamshul Huda spoke in the conference while Dr. Sourav Sikder, professor of Dhaka University presided over the discussion. The keynote paper on present state of implementation of CHT Accord was presented by indigenous rights activist Mr. Dipayan Khisa.

In this event, Advocate Sultana Kamal said that implementation of CHT Accord could be reached into a successful position by successive governments overcoming many obstacles in the mean time. But it is a deep concern for all of us that the indigenous peoples have been deprived in development initiatives that have been taken in CHT by government. Implementing the CHT Accord will be the first step towards protecting their rights. She said that government should give guaranty to implement the CHT Accord immediately, and it is not a matter which party comes to power or whatever the current situation changed or unchanged, the demand for defending the rights of such a large population must be more determined. She opined that those who respect their own identify they would implement the CHT Accord.

Engineer Sardar Amin said the CHT people signed on CHT Accord with hopes and trust, but in fact confusion, disappointment and mistrust are prevailing in indigenous people’s mind due to non-implementation of CHT Accord and continuous human right violations. Full implementation of CHT Accord was committed by the Awami League government in its election manifesto, but it has done nothing last five years. If the current situation in CHT goes beyond control, the government will be responsible for this.

Numan Ahmed Khan said that the government did not implement its election commitments for implementation of the Accord, such as, transfer of important departments to the three Hill District Councils as per the clauses of CHT Accord, withdrawal of temporary military camps, settlement of land disputes and so on. Due to lack of effective steps to withdraw the more than 300 temporary military camps from the region, military dominance still continues as before.

Chanchana Chakma, President of Hill Women's Federation said that the government should implement the CHT Accord instead of giving leap service one after another duign last five years.

Shamsul Huda said that the CHT Accord was signed between the indigenous peoples and the state. It was not a personal contract with particular government. It was one of the responsibility of state to implement the Accord .
Sanjeeb Drong said that certainly, non implementation of CHT Accord is a bad news for 160 million people in Bangladesh which was pledged by the government in its electoral manifesto.

Dipayan Khisa said that 16 years have passed after signing the Accord. However, the implementation process became more and more slow. The government did not comply with its election pledges in regard to implement the Accord. The PCJSS implemented its commitment by depositing their arms to the government as per provisions of the Accord. So, the State party cannot blame them. Non-implementation of the CHT Accord by the government is nothing to betrayal to the indigenous peoples. Such attitude would bring severe consequence for the State.

Hana Shams Ahmed said in the written statement that civil society are expressing their shock & anxiety on the slow implementation of CHT Accord. The present government gave commitment in the election manifesto that they would implement CHT Accord and establish peace in this region during their tenure, but this government did not take concrete steps and did not declare road map to do so and to address the issues of human rights violation there in CHT yet. Hence the turmoil situation in CHT still remains same. Awami League government did not keep its commitment of election manifesto to implement the CHT Accord fully rather the government was busy and limited to give wrong commitment one after another in last five years. Still military camps and military rules exist in CHT, andthere are many important departments yet to hand over to three HDCs. But this government did not take concrete steps addressing CHT Accord implementation. She also added that CHT Land Commission remains inactive and the 13 point amendment proposals of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 are still pending to present in the National Parliament for approval.

Finally, the civil society calls upon the political parties to give priority of implementation of the CHT Accord. They urged to democratic, non-communal and progressive forces to be united to protect indigenous peoples rights as well as take the initiative to fully implement the CHT Accord.


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