NHRC chair urges govt to implement CHT accordStaff Correspondent
National Human Rights Commission chairman Mizanur Rahman on Wednesday called upon the government to immediately implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.
Speaking at an experience sharing meeting, Mizan said prime minister Sheikh Hasina who took the initiative to bring peace in CHT region in 1997 failed to implement the accord during the tenure of her government.
‘I can remember in 2009, at the Universal Periodic Review session, Bangladesh was asked to ratify the ILO Convention–169 that deals with the rights of indigenous peoples. But the Awami League government pointed out that there was no need to ratify the ILO convention since the CHT accord was signed. Now my question is why the government has not done anything yet?’ Mizan observed.
The experience sharing meeting titled ‘Customary land rights and laws of the 14 indigenous communities in CHT’ was jointly organised by the CHT Regional Council and rights organisation Manusher Jonno Foundation at CIRDAP auditorium.
He expressed solidarity with the demand for constitutional recognition of the national minorities as ‘indigenous peoples’.
On March 11, the LGRD and cooperatives ministry had asked all deputy commissioners to launch a campaign on electronic and print media claiming there were no ‘indigenous people’ in the country.
‘We (the commission) believe that is rightful demand of yours (national minorities) and the father of the nation taught us not to obey command of the leader when the leader is wrong,’ Mizan said quoting an excerpt from the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s autobiography ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’.
Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon, also convenor of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples, said that customs are a distinct characteristic of the national minorities and the constitution also says to preserve such heritage.
He also condemned LGRD ministry’s campaign and called upon the government to stop such campaign.
Referring to customary land disputes in CHT, Parbattya Chattagram Janasanghati Samity president Jyotirindra Bodhipriyo Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, said that the land disputes that prevail in CHT was a creation of the governments. ‘Since the Bengali people were politically settled there, they were offered land and ration in exchange of being there,’ Santu added.
Speakers at the meeting urged the government to observe the International Day of World Indigenous Peoples, implement the CHT accord and enact laws for protection of national minorities.
Information commissioner Sadeka Halim, national minority leaders Sanjeeb Drong and Rabindranath Soren, Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, among others, spoke at the meeting.
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