PCJSS Representative’s speech on Agenda Item 5(e) in Asia Dialogue at UN Permanent Forum

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Hill Voice, 26 April 2024, International Desk: Representative of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Chanchana Chakma, participated in the Agenda “Item 5(e): Regional Dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and Member States (Asia Region)” and raised opinion during the interactive dialogue.

The Asia Region’s Interactive Dialogue was held on Thursday, April 25 from 10 am to 11:30 am during the 23rd session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) at the UN Headquarters.

Chanchana Chakma said in her speech putting questions to the Bangladesh government delegation that, Although two-third provisions of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord, especially the core issues of the Accord, remain unimplemented, the Bangladesh government is unilaterally claiming 65 clauses out of 72 clauses of the Accord have been implemented mislead public opinion at home and abroad. If so,

In the past 26 years, why legal and administrative steps have not been taken to preserve the status of the tribal-inhabited areas of the CHT? Why are outsiders infiltrating CHT?

Why the general administration, law and order, police, land and land management, forest and environment, tourism, development of communication system have not been transferred to the CHT Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils established under the special governance system of CHT?

Even in the last 26 years, why was the ‘hill district police force’ not formed by appointing hill people from constable to sub-inspector?

Why not all temporary military camps have been withdrawn? Why still more than four hundred camps and de facto military rule “Operation Uttaran” are kept in force?

In the last 26 years, why has not a single land dispute been resolved? Why has the government kept pending the work of formulating the Rules of the Land Commission?

Why are the indigenous Jumma people losing their lands? Why are Jumma people facing eviction by the army?

Why has the voter list of the three hill districts not yet been prepared with the permanent residents of the CHT?

Why has it not been possible to rehabilitate a single family among the 98 thousand families of internally displaced person? Why have not the 9 hundred families of India-returnee refugees gotten their lands back?

Why has not the land leases given to non-locals been cancelled?

Why were not the settlers rehabilitated outside the CHT? Why were there more than 20 communal attacks carried out on the indigenous Jumma people in the post-Accord period by the settlers with the help of administration and state forces?

Why have not all other laws and regulations applicable to the CHT been amended according to the CHT Accord?

Why are there no Adivasi or Indigenous quotas in first- and second-class government jobs?

Honorable Chair, all these questions proved that govt’s claiming of 65 provisions that have been implemented is not true. I can raise more questions regarding the Accord to prove that the Bangladesh government is lying to the international communities.

After Chanchana Chakma finished her speech with these questions, a woman official of the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations participated in the dialogue. She said that the government is not spreading false information about implementation of CHT Accord. At that time, she pointing to Chairman of CHT Development Board and former ambassador Supradeep Chakma, said, “If you don’t believe us, then there is an indigenous person in the government delegation, you can ask him.”

Among the indigenous representatives present were Tony Chiran of Bangladesh Indigenous Youth Forum, Uting Marma of Chakma Raj Office and Twisa Tripura. But none of them gave any speech in the dialogue.

Apart from Secretary of the Ministry of CHT Affairs Md. Moshiur Rahman, Chairman of CHT Development Board and former ambassador Supradip Chakma and Secretary of Ministry of Land Md. Khalilur Rahman, the Bangladesh government delegation includes officials from the Directorate General of Field Intelligence (DGFI), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office and Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN.

After leaving the conference room at the end of the Asia Dialogue, a DGFI official threatened Chanchana Chakma and said, stop blaming the Bangladesh government immediately.

Indigenous rights activist Priti B Chakma said, in fact, this incident proves that indigenous rights activists are not spared from the threats of the military intelligence agencies even in international platforms like the United Nations. If a place like the United Nations is threatened like this, it is easy to imagine what the situation will be in CHT.