Hill Voice, 3 August 2023, Dhaka: Mr. A K M Mozammel Haque MP, the Minister of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs of the Bangladesh Government said in a round table talk organized by Parliamentary Caucus for Indigenous Peoples and Minorities at the Parliamentary Club Auditorium in Dhaka that the Chittagong Hill Tract Accord was signed with the aim of establishing peace with the special sincerity of the honourable Prime Minister. It is definitely possible to establish peace if we act according to the goal with which the Accord has been signed. However, unfortunately it is true that the Accord has not been implemented. He said that if the hill region once steps toward a conflict, it would not bring any well-being for the country, it is not a positive symptom.
Today (3 August 2023), the Minister of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs A K M Mozammel Haque MP said these as the chief guest in the round table meeting entitled ‘Pluralism, Diversity and Indigenous Rights’ organized by the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous and Minority Affairs. The round table talk was organized on the occasion of the upcoming 9th August 2023 the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Fazle Hossain Badsha, convener of the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous and Minority Affairs presided over the meeting. President of Bangladesh Workers Party, veteran politician Rashed Khan Menon MP and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism, A R M Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury MP were also present as special guests in the meeting.
Besides, AKM Fazlul Haque MP, Aroma Datta MP, writer and journalist Abu Sayed Khan, Professor Mesbah Kamal, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative Prasenjit Chakma and others also spoke there.
Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Haque MP also said that ‘The intention of rehabilitating Bengali settlers in the hill by the initiative of Ziaur Rahman in the 80s was not good, the work was ill intention. The aim of settlement programs have been done there purposefully by enticing the settlers with various amenities. Therefore, now it should be ensured that the local residents are not deprived of their rights.’
In the speech of the special guest, veteran politician Rashed Khan Menon MP said, ‘The Kuki-Chin was not born out of nothing. Kuki-Chin was made. Now the cat has become a tiger.’ He further said, ‘The concept of pluralism is shrinking worldwide. In the reality of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Ziaur Rahman took the decision of assimilation against this pluralistic society concept, which was not correct.
In his speech, the special guest, A R M Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury MP said, ‘During the peace Accord, I was the private secretary to the honourable Prime Minister. It seems that the mutual trust that existed during that period has now diminished to a large extent. Both sides have to come forward to restore that trust. I do not think that any single clause of the Accord is unimplementable.’
A K M Fazlul Haque MP said, ‘Compared to the indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the condition of the indigenous people of the plains is very fragile. Many people are losing their lands here. A separate land commission should be formed for the indigenous people in the plains.’
Aroma Dutta MP said, ‘After 75, militarization has been institutionalized. It is a shame that thousand acres of land in Chittagong Hill Tracts are being dispossessed.’
Senior journalist Abu Sayed Khan said, ‘We could not acknowledge the diversity spirit at the time of making the constitution of this country. The Fifteenth Amendment had the opportunity to include indigenous peoples, but not.’
In the discussion, the keynote was presented by the coordinator of the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous and Minority Affairs Prof. Dr. Mesbah Kamal. He said, ‘by denying the diversity, whenever integration is attempted, problems arise. There are at least 37 million indigenous people in the world. Indigenous people are protecting 80% of the world’s biodiversity.’ He also said, ‘Plurality, diversity must be accepted. The world has forwarded much. Progress cannot be ensured by denying the existence of others.’
Among others, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative Prasenjit Chakma, Kapaeeng Foundation Executive Director Pallab Chakma, indigenous woman leadership Helena Talang, Namita Chakma, Chittagong Hill Tracts Jumma Refugee Welfare Association General Secretary Santoshita Chakma Bakul, President of Bangladesh indigenous Koch Organization Ramesh Koch, President of Bangladesh Rajbanshi Samiti Subhash Chandra Rajbangshi and others took part in the discussion.