Implementation of development plans in violation of CHT Accord: says Priti Bindu Chakma at EMRIP

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Hill Voice, 18 July 2023, International Desk: At the 2nd day meeting of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Geneva, Priti Bindu Chakma, a representative of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) said that the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord signed in 1997 introduced a special governance system in the CHT incorporating the CHT Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils to determine their own development. But the development plan of the three Hill District Councils is being implemented under the approval of the Ministry of CHT Affairs in violation of the terms of the agreement.

The PCJSS representative said this while presenting a statement on Agenda Item 5: Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights to Development at the 16th session of EMRIP held in the morning of 18 July 2023, Geneva. The 16th session of the United Nations EMRI started yesterday and will continue till July 21. The full text is given below-

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nation, Sixteenth session 17-21 July 2023, Item 5: Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, Tuesday 18 July, 2023.

Statement by: Priti Chakma, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Bangladesh, E-mail: pcjss.org@gmail.com , priti_chakma@yahoo.ca

Thank you Chair for giving me floor.

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord signed in 1997, provision has been made to introduce a special governance system in the CHT comprising CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils to determine their own development

But in violation of the Accord, the development plans of the three Hill District Councils are implemented subject to the approval of the Ministry of CHT Affairs. Besides, most of the development projects are implemented through the CHT Development Board with the approval of the Ministry of CHT Affairs, bypassing the Regional Council and three Hill District Councils. As a result, the hill dwellers are deprived of the rights to self-determined development

Another serious issue is that the tourism business is run by the Bangladesh. They occupy Indigenous’ lands and build luxury tourist centers with five-star hotels. The army destroy the houses, plantations, Jum farm, religious institutions of the indigenous peoples by constructing the border road and the connecting road.

My question to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Development is how to stop such development programs that are destructive to indigenous livelihoods and culture and the environment and biodiversity? Can the government of Bangladesh be encouraged by the Expert Mechanism to properly introduce the special governance system in the CHT in accordance with the CHT Accord of 1997 to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights to determine their development priorities?

Thank you.