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UN Human Rights Commissioner inquires human rights situation in CHT

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Hill Voice, 16 August 2022, Dhaka: United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, who is now visiting Bangladesh, is reported to have inquired about the human rights situation in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) during her meeting with some ministers of the government.

The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is on four-day visit in Bangladesh from August 14. She met four ministers including Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Foreign Minister Abul Momen and Law Minister Anisul Haque and a delegation of civil society and discussed the human rights situation in the country with them.

Reliable sources said that during the meeting, the global human rights chief inquired about the human rights situation in the CHT, among others, from the ministers. On the other hand, it is known that during the meeting with Michelle Bachelet by the civil society delegation at a hotel in Dhaka on Monday (August 15), among others, the human rights situation in the CHT was discussed.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters after the meeting with the UN human rights chief in the conference room of the Ministry that the issues of enforced disappearance, digital security law, minorities, CHT and Rohingya were discussed.

It is not known specifically what the UN human rights chief has inquired about from the ministers regarding the CHT. However, as the Home Minister told reporters, he briefed Michelle Bachelet stating that, “CHT was a state of unrest. The Prime Minister made a peace treaty with them. Most of the provisions of the peace agreement have been implemented.”

An indigenous human rights activist, who did not wish to be named, opined that if the Home Minister briefed the UN Human Rights Commissioner like that, he is living in a fool’s paradise. He pointed out that the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner is well aware of the alarming human rights situation in CHT due to the non-implementation of the CHT Accord and the delay-dallying tactics of the present government in the implementation of the CHT Accord. He expressed his opinion that home minster made failed attempts to cover the fish with the vegetables.

During the meeting with the Human Rights Commissioner, the civil society representatives also discussed the human rights situation in CHT. The situation of violence against women and ethnic and religious minorities is alarming, human rights activists said during talks with Michelle Bachelet.

The delegation of human rights activists called on the global human rights chief to convince the government to establish an independent commission for investigation of incidents of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

It is to be noted that on August 10, 2022, in the memorandum submitted by the six Jumma rights organizations to various authorities of the United Nations including the UN Human Rights Commissioner, they have called for a temporary suspension of the employment of the Bangladesh Armed Forces in the UN peacekeeping mission for human rights violations in the CHT.

The visit by the global human rights chief is considered significant after the US imposed sanctions on the RAB and seven of its former and current top officials over alleged human rights violations last December.

Michelle Bachelet is now visiting the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’sbazar district on Tuesday. She is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday morning. She is expected to make a statement on her visit in the afternoon of August 18 before leaving Dhaka after completing his four-day visit.

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