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UNHCHR’s visit to Bangladesh: not allowed to visit CHT

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Hill Voice, 11 August 2022, International Desk: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet is coming to visit Bangladesh. But Bangladesh government did not give her permission to visit Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

Michelle Bachelet is coming to Bangladesh on August 14, 2022. She will stay till August 18. During the visit, Michelle Bachelet will meet with various government officials and representatives of civil society and visit Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

According to relevant sources, Michelle Bachelet wanted to visit CHT region. But Bangladesh government did not give her permission to enter CHT. Sources have also confirmed that she is not visiting CHT region.

Priti Bindu Chakma, a prominent human rights activist living in Canada and executive editor of the Hill Voice, said that the government’s refusal to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to visit CHT proved that massive human rights violations are being committed against the Jumma people of CHT region. This proves that the government has always viewed indigenous Jumma-inhabited CHT region from a racist point of view.

When contacted on WhatsApp, Sajib Chakma, Assistant Information and Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) told the Hill Voice that this shows that the government wants to continue suppression on the Jumma people keeping the CHT region isolated from the international communities. He called Ms. Michelle Bachelet to raise the continued military rule and human rights violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, delay-dallying tactics of government in implementing the CHT Accord of 1997, massive land grabbing and eviction of Jumma people from their homesteads, communal attacks and burning of villages, continued violence against Jumma women, impunity and lack of justice for criminals, etc. to the government of Bangladesh.

9 human rights organizations call on Michelle Bachelet

9 human rights organizations called that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet should publicly call the Bangladesh for an immediate end to serious human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances in the country during her visit to Bangladesh.

These international organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based human rights organization of the United States, made this call in a joint statement yesterday (August 10). Apart from HRW, other organizations that made statements were Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP), Ilios Justice (Monash University), International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

The statement alleged that hundreds of people have gone missing, been tortured and killed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government came to power in 2009. There have been serious allegations of human rights violations, including allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances against law enforcement agencies under this government.

The joint statement further alleged that the US imposed sanctions against RAB in 2021. After that, the Bangladesh government took retaliatory action against the relatives of the victims in Bangladesh, human rights activists and their families and human rights organizations.

It also said that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should encourage the Bangladesh government to form an independent commission to investigate all allegations of disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings and deaths in the custody of law and order forces.

The statement mentions that Bachelet should offer the UN Human Rights Commission support to Bangladesh in forming this commission in consultation with the victims of disappearances, murders, torture, their families and independent experts. Bachelet should make it clear to the government that ongoing human rights abuses by law-enforcement forces will undermine the deployment of Bangladeshi troops in UN peacekeeping missions, the organizations said.

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