PCJSS representative delivers speech in the UN on Item-3: Enhancing IPs’ right to self- determination

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Hill Voice, 17 April 2024, International Desk: Representative of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Priti B Chakma, delivered speech on Item 3: Discussion on the theme “Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self- determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth.”

Priti B Chakma said in his intervention made on Tuesday (16 April) that the historic Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord or CHT Accord was signed in 1997 between the Government of Bangladesh and the PCJSS or Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti for a political and peaceful solution to the CHT problem. This agreement provided for the introduction of a self-governance system comprising the CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils. For this purpose, in the CHT Accord, the general administration, law and order, police, land and land management, forest and environment, education, health, agriculture, development of communication system, and all kinds of development programs are entrusted to these Councils.

But it is a matter of great regret that although the Bangladesh government has implemented some aspects of the Accord, but the rights and jurisdiction related to the political, administrative and economic development related to the self-governance system have not yet been assigned to the Regional Council and Hill District Councils.

Although Regional Council and Hill District Councils have been constituted, but bypassing these councils, the army, district administration and police authority continue to exercise powers related to political, administrative and economic development, including general administration, law and order, police, land and land management, forest and environment, development of communication system.

Not only that, the withdrawal of all temporary army camps, restoration of dispossessed land of Jumma people by resolution of the land disputes, proper rehabilitation of internally displaced families and India-returnee Jumma refugees by returning their land, rehabilitation of Bengali settlers outside the CHT with dignity, etc. have not been implemented.

As human rights violations continue unabated in the CHT, Indigenous youths, men, women, all are in disturbed situation. The Indigenous Jumma youths want to have voices for their rights, but they can’t. The CHT is full of Bangladesh militaries and these militaries stitch their mouths to stop their voices. They are criminalized.

In such a situation, I call on the Permanent Forum to encourage the Bangladesh government to implement the CHT Accord properly and fully without further delay with the aim of establishing a genuine self-governance system in the CHT. I am sure once the peace prevails in the CHT, the Indigenous peoples including youths would be able to participate in various activities for the betterment of the community.

The 23rd session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began on Monday (April 15) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This session will continue till April 26. Arjashree Chakma also gave a speech on agenda item 3 yesterday (Tuesday).