Special Report, Hill Voice, 29 June 2020, Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT): In an online discussion titled “Chittagong Hill Tracts Perspectives: Environment, Wildlife and Indigenous Peoples”, Creative Conservative Alliance (CCA) chief Shahriar Rahman Caesar avoided answering most of the basic questions raised about the activities of the CCA. On the other hand, he has threatened in the talks that any kind of hateful remarks against him will not be tolerated in the Facebook.
Today 29th June 2020 Monday from 4:30 pm, an online discussion titled “Chittagong Hill Tracts Perspectives: Environment, Wildlife and Indigenous Peoples” was held for about an hour and a half. Development activist Lelyhng Samthang (Lelung Khumi), Supriyo Chakma and Shahriar Rahman Caesar, head of the CCA, participated in the discussion which was facilitated by human rights activist Muktashree Chakma Sathi.
The online discussion was organised following the recent backlash about activities of the CCA and its chief Shahriar Rahman Caesar. During the discussion, the panelists, including Lelyhng Samthang, and many people on Facebook Live asked various questions to CCA chief Shahriar Rahman Caesar.
The questions include whether discussions and approvals had been taken with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, the Hill District Council and the traditional institutions (Raja-Headman-Karbari); Whether the rights of indigenous peoples recognized in ILO Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations have been taken into consideration; Whether the consent of local indigenous peoples and institutions has been considered on the basis of the rights to free prior informed consent of indigenous peoples; Among the indigenous or outsider Bengalis and government activities, who is the most responsible for the destruction of forests and wildlife; Whether the minutes of the meeting were tactfully recorded in the possession of Jumland of the indigenous peoples in the name of CCA; Proposing the relocation and rehabilitation of indigenous peoples in the name of wildlife conservation; Wildlife trafficking; Indigo cultivation; Putting up signboards in the neighborhood etc.
But Mr. Caesar has carefully avoided answering other basic questions except the questions like wildlife trafficking, indigo cultivation, signboard pulling etc. This means that he did not consider the basics at all in the adoption and implementation of his project.
He also put objectionable opinion on relocation and rehabilitation of indigenous people in the name of wildlife conservation. He opined in favor of relocation of indigenous peoples in the interest of wildlife conservation, which was never acceptable to the facilitator and penalists too.
At the last, when Leling Samthang repeatedly asked about the tactfully writing down of the minutes of the meeting taking possession of the Jumland in favor of the CCA, he said that he would explain the matter in bilateral talks with Lelyhng Samthang without giving a direct answer. This means that there is lack of transparency, that is why he could not answer in the open forum.
In response to the question of Muktashree Chakma Sathi, it was learnt that the NGO of Shahriar Rahman Caesar named CCA also does not have the registration with NGO Bureau. However, CCA is implementing the project in Alikadam-Thanchi with foreign funds. This means that he is carrying out activities illegally by bringing in foreign funds.
Apart from foreign funds, if any NGO wants to work in the hill districts through domestic funds, it has to get the permission from the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council. Since he did not answer the question of whether the approval of the Regional Council was taken, it means that he did not get the approval from the Regional Council. Therefore, the activities of CCA in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are being conducted completely illegally.
The latest issue raised by Shahriar Caesar is highly objectionable. He said racist hate remarks were being made against him on Facebook. He said he would not tolerate such racist remarks. However, he did not mention what kind of racist remarks were made.
In order to cover up the allegations against him, Shahriar Caesar has repeatedly said that if someone does something good, he is made to brand as a villain. He further added that the allegations against him were made in an attempt to make him stand as a villain.
This means that he did not understand the pain and emotions of the indigenous Jumma people, but rather he considered them as racial hatred. This means that he has not taken the allegations against him positively, but has taken them as a challenge. In the wake of this, he has threatened not to tolerate any kind of hateful remarks.