UNPFII: PCJSS delegate urges UN to pressure GoB for restoration of human rights in CHT

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Hill Voice, 20 April 2023, International Desk: Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) delegate, Chanchana Chakma, urges the Uinted Nations (UN) to put pressure on the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) for restoration of human rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

This call was made by the PCJSS representative while delivering statement on agenda “Item 4: Discussion on the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum (economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights), with reference to the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples and 2030 agenda of sustainable development” on 20 April 2023 in the morning meeting at the 22nd session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

The 22nd session of the UNPFII started on 17 April and continues to 28 April 2023 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA. A three-member delegation of PCJSS led by Pritibindu Chakma is attending the 22nd session.

In her statement, PCJSS delegate, Chanchana Chakma, said that the UN for choosing six mandated areas by the Permanent Forum as these areas are the most important ones for Indigenous peoples for their survival. In fact, Permanent Forum’s initiative on these areas has given immense effects on uplifting the Indigenous peoples around the world.

The Indigenous Jumma peoples in the CHT have been inspired too by the Permanent Forum’s initiative, but the agony is that the human rights violations are still going on the CHT unabated. If there are human rights violations, the other five areas are hampered too. These human rights violations are perpetrated by the Bangladesh government’s agencies themselves.

As per the annual report of the PCJSS, 235 human rights violations occurred in 2022. All these 235 violations were carried out by the state and non-state actors including security and the law & order forces, the army-backed armed terrorist groups, communal and fundamentalist quarters, Muslim Bengali settlers, land grabbers, etc. and because of these violations, 1,935 Jumma people became the victims in 2022.

One example of various human rights violations is that August 9 was the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples around the world and we celebrate it with much anticipation pertaining to our rights. But the intelligent agency of the Bangladesh army, the Directorate General of Defence Intalligences, circulated a derective on July 4, 2022 to media and related department to not use the word’s Indigenous Peoples’ in the celebration of August 9. It is a conspiracy and a human rights violation against our will.

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Another example is that on July 5, 2022, a group of about 200 Bengali settlers set fire on at least 37 houses of Jumma villagers in the Joysen Para area of Maischari Union in Mahalchari. They looted the property and vandalized everything of the Indigenous peoples. The military did nothing as they always support the settlers.

The Bangladesh government made an agreement popularly known as CHT Accord with the PCJSS on Dec 02, 1997 for safeguarding the Indigenous Jumma peoples, but it is surprising that the GoB has not implemented all provisions fully even in last 25 years. The Sheikh Hasina led government has not touched the core provisions of the agreement to continue its heinous nature of the past that they tried to evict our Jumma peoples from our ancestral lands or to make the Jumma people minority in our own lands.

Chanchana Chakma conclude by saying, “it is my earnest request to the UN, its agencies particularly the Permanent Forum, the governments who believe in the restoration of human rights is the only solution, to give pressure to the Bangladesh government to honor the promises it has given in the agreement. If the Bangladesh Government can keep its promises, we, the Jumma people, are definite in our action in achieving sustainable development to some extent by 2030.”

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