Hill Voice, 21 December 2022, international desk: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) jointly organized a webinar on ‘Reflection of 25 years of CHT Accord for greater co-responsibility, solidarity and movement’ on December 20, 2022, at 3:30 PM Dhaka time.
The webinar is moderated by Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of BIPF where Mr. Ushatan Talukder, ex-parliamentarian and Vise-president, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Professor, Dr. Tone Bleie, University of Tromso, Norway & Member, the CHT International Commission from Norway, Mr. Gam A. Shimray, Secretary General, AIPP from Thailand, Kathrin Wessendorf, Executive Director, The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Mr. Adam Lunn, Global Focal Point & Facilitator, Zero Tolerance Initiative (ZTI) from Spain, Mr. Patrick Earle, Executive Director, Diplomacy Training Programme (DTP), from Australia and Mr. Ruben Kondrup, Solidarity and Movement Coordinator, International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) from Denmark spoke and delivered their solidarity messages to implement the CHT accord fully.
Mr. Ushatan Talukder addressed the current situation of the implementation of the CHT accord. He said the CHT problem is a political problem and it should be resolved politically through peaceful means. He also said although the ruling Awami League government have many consecutive years after the signing accord this government did not take any effective steps to implement some of the fundamental clauses of the accord. He said the Bangladesh government has obligation to ensure to implement of the CHT accord and establish the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. He appealed to international communities to support their movement and urge to encourage the Bangladesh Government to fully implement the CHT accord immediately and ensure constitutional recognition of the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh.
Gam Shimray said we are here for the solidarity of the CHT accord because these issues affect each and every one of us in different ways. Especially, in the context of the situation in Asia where the states of Asia are in democratic challenges today. He also said when accords are not respected implicitly, I think we should have the right to turn to international bodies and international laws. And we should have the right to go to the courts, if the accord is ignored or violated, and we need to think about other safeguards. We can strengthen our solidarity by learning these lessons learned, we could together design our advocacy at the global and UN level and create this kind of more safeguard instruments. He said we need a long-term strategic approach and future planning for what can do together in this regard.
Patrick Earle said we extend our solidarity for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh. The CHT peace accord has very real consequences for the people of the CHT but is not being honoured and failure to honour of treaty by GoB, that’s why catastrophic consequences are manifested there. He calls on all human rights defenders to do successful advocacy to implement the CHT accord.
In a video message, IWGIA Executive Director, Kathrin Wessendorf, calls on the Government of Bangladesh to prioritize all efforts to implement the CHT Peace Accord to end the human rights violations that the Indigenous Peoples of the CHT continue facing and to ensure that they are allowed to live their self-determined lives on their lands in peace, without fear of violence or eviction.
Sanjeeb Drong said international support and cooperation are very needed for IPs in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a culturally diverse country for different Indigenous Peoples. Recognition of cultural diversity and rights is very important, and celebration of their identity and cultures is also important.
To mark the silver jubilee of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord, several Indigenous organizations and community members from Bangladesh including BIPF organized a series of activities from the end of November demanding to honour and fully implement the Accord. At today’s morning a grand rally and solidarity gathering was organized at Dhaka Central Shaheed Minar and Shahbag by the Movement of CHT Accord Implementation (CSOs led). In the afternoon, AIPP and BIPF organized this webinar where Human Rights Experts, Professor and representatives from the rights-based organization at the regional and global levels joined and delivered their solidarity speech. The key objectives of this webinar were to share the current situation of the CHT Accord implementation and create mass awareness at the national and international levels; to enhance solidarity from global human rights platforms on the immediate action for full implementation of the accord and to explore the recommendations from the national and international platforms.
On this day AIPP also published a collective statement on Silver Jubilee of CHT Accord 1997: A Call for Solidarity and Action for the Implementation of the CHT Accord endorsed by a total of 130 endorsements (77 national and international organisations and 53 Individuals) from 16 countries of the world.
The report was circulated in a press release signed by Shohel Hajong on behalf of AIPP.