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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

National Roundtable on ILO Convention 169 and Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament held in Dhaka

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 20 December 2009 a national roundtable on ‘ILO Convention 169’ and ‘Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament’ was organized by ILO and RDC at Spectra Conventional Centre, Gulshan, Dhaka. The objective of the roundtable was to create awareness on ILO C169 and advocate Parliamentary role on Indigenous Peoples issues.

The first session of the roundtable with theme “Ratification of ILO C169: Way Forward” had started at 10 o’clock chaired by Prof. H K S Arefin. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar, State Minister of the CHT Affairs Ministry was present as Chief Guest and Mr. Masud Ahmed, Secretary In-charge of CHT Affairs Ministry was present as special guest at the first session. Country Director of ILO Ms Panudda Boonpala had delivered welcome speech.

Mr. Coen Kompier, Senior Labour Standard Specialist, ILO Delhi office had presented the overview of ILO 169. Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma, Member of CHT Regional Council and Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum spoke as panel discussant.

State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukdar reiterated government commitment to implement the CHT Accord. He expressed his optimism that present government would ratify the ILO Convention 169 as most of the rights contained in the ILO 169 were recognized by the CHT Accord. He expressed his support to form a parliamentarian caucus for indigenous peoples’ causes. He said that CHT Affairs Ministry already sent a letter to correct the derogatory matters regarding indigenous peoples from textbooks. He also informed that the government had already started the process of forming a separate land commission to settle the land disputes of the plain land indigenous people.

The Second Session with theme “Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh National Parliament” was held at 01 o’clock chaired by Dr. Harun-Ur-Rashid, Pro Vice Chancellor and moderated by Mr. Hasanul Haque Inu, MP. Prof. Mesbah Kamal had presented the Key note Paper on `Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament’,

Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura MP, Chairman, Task Force for Rehabilitation of Jumma Refugee and IPD’s was present as Chief Guest at the second session and Mr. Shawkat Momen Shahjahan MP from Tangail, Ms Rubi Rahman MP, Rawshan Jahan MP and Shanaullah Lovelu were present as special guest.

Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura said that it was good initiative to form a parliamentary caucus for indigenous peoples’ causes. He said that Prime Minister would support if she was convinced the right things. He was optimistic to implement the CHT Accord by the present government within rest 4 year tenure. However, he expressed his concerns over anti-accord activities of extreme nationalist and communal groups in the banner of Sama Odhikar Andolon.

MPs who attended roundtable as special guest supported the initiative of ILO and RDC to form a parliamentary caucus. They expressed their commitment to work for the causes of indigenous peoples.

Finally national roundtable formed a committee with following Parliament Members to works for forming a ‘Parliament CAUCUS for indigenous peoples’ causes’ within next parliament session-

(a) 5 MPs of indigenous peoples;

(b) 3 MPs from Awami League (namely Shawkat Momen Shahjahan, Rubi Rahaman and Rawshan Jahan;

(c) 2 MPs from Workers’ Party (Rashed Khan Menon and Fazle Hossain Badshah;

(d) 1 MP from Jatiya Samastantrik Dal (Hasanul Haque Inu).

The roundtable also formed a 3-member technical support committee with Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma, Mr. Mesbah Kamal and Mr. Sanjeeb Drong.

The roundtable was ended with vote of thanks by Abhilash Tripura, National Coordinator, Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of ILO Dhaka office.

Kidnapping, extortion and killing undermines peace accord in CHT


Very recently anti-accord element of UPDF and reformist group of PCJSS jointly have launched terrorist activities, such as, kidnapping, extortion, ransoms, killings etc at some parts of Rangamti and Khagrachari district in order to make unstable of CHT situation. For instances-

PCJSS member kidnapped by reformist and UPDF cadres in Naniarchar

On 25 November 2009 around 2:00 pm a returnee PCJSS member Mr. Debabrata Chakma alias Karlo (42) s/o Karma Das Chakma of village- Krishnamachara of Ghilachari union under Naniarchar upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati district was kidnapped from Naniarchar Bazaar by Pragoti Chakma (38) s/o Tripura Charan Chakma of village- Bhuiya Adam of Ghilachari union and Sumanta Chakma (28) s/o Prahlad Chakma of village- Gulshachari of No. 3 Burighat union of Naniarchar upazila who are known as so-called reformist activist.

It is mentionable that Mr. Debabrata Chakma alias Karlo has been staying at TTC area under Rangamati municipality for long time. He is no more involved with PCJSS activities and is involved with fishing business for earnings for survival of his family. He went to Naniarchar Bazaar on that day for his fishing business.

It is learnt that soon after kidnapping, the kidnappers handed Mr. Karlo over to the UPDF commander of Naniarchar area Mr. Orchid Chakma alias Robi (42) s/o unknown from Kowkhali upazila.

It is reported that after four days on 29 November 2009 Mr. Karlo was released in lieu of taka 200,000/- as ransom.

An innocent villager beaten by reformist cadres in Khagrachari

On 26 November 2009, Mr. Pratijagot Chakma (50) s/o Pahr Chandra Chakma, an innocent villager of village- Betchari Madyam Para under Kamalchari union of Khagrachari sadar upazila of Khagrachari district went to join a funeral ceremony of the village. On the way of returning to his home he was halted at the shop of Kamini Ranjan Chakma. In the mean time, Plaban Chakma (18) s/o unknown accompanied by two associates named Jiban Chakma and Nirvik Chakma known as reformist activist arrived at the shop and then beat Mr. Pratijagot Chakma mercilessly. The miscreants put logs on the chest of Pratijagot Chakma. Thus, Pratijagot Chakma got injured seriously and he was admitted to Khagrachari General Hospital.

Miscreants attempt to shoot PCJSS leader in Rangamati

On 8 December 2009 around 12:45 am a group of miscreants attempted to shoot Mr. Arabinda Chakma (47) of Rajdip area under Rangamati municipality, a returnee PCJSS member and General Secretary in charge of Rangamati sadar upazila committee of PCJSS. It is learnt that at that time the miscreants surrounded the house of Arabinda while Arabinda Chakma with his family members was in sleep. At a stage, the miscreants shot at the house 2/3 rounds. However, nobody was injured in this arm attack.

A villager kidnapped by Reformist group in Dighinala

On 13 December 2009 at about 8:00 am an armed group numbering 11 led by Ajay Tripura (30) and Milan Chakma (29) known as reformist group kidnapped an innocent villager named Paripurna Chakma (29) s/o Gonga Dhar Chakma, village- Choto Kangara Kheya under Merung union of Dighinala upazila of Khagrachari district from a shop named Moner Manusher Dokan of Songrachari of Dighinala. It is learnt that at that time Paripurna Chakma was going to Dighinala from his village Choto Kangara Kheya. Other more two persons of the armed group were identified as Jewel Chakma and Subhash Chakma.

Japanese MP suggests a roadmap to implement CHT peace accord

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

A visiting Japanese parliamentarian, Naoto Sakaguchi, on Monday urged the government to declare a roadmap for implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord singed in 1997.
‘The government should also earmark funds through a block allotment to implement the treaty,’ the member of the Japanese House of Representatives told reporters after a three-day tour of the Hill Tracts.
He suggested that the government should prioritise land dispute issue to implement the accord, which was signed after more than two decades of armed insurgency in the hilly region.
Ain O Salish Kendra executive director Sultana Kamal, deputy head of Information and Cultural Division of Japanese Embassy Ken Komine and CHT Commission coordinator Hana Shams Ahmed, among others, were present at the briefing held at the Kendra office at Lalmatia in the city.
Sakaguchi, a leader of Democratic Party of Japan, also said that his government would provide assistance in implementing the CHT accord if the Bangladesh government needs help from them.
Emphasising on the sustainable tourism, he said Japanese government is ready to support sustainable tourism as it would generate employment in the country.
However, sustainable tourism is an industry committed to leave a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment for the local people.
The aim of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development is a positive experience for local people, tourism companies, and tourists themselves. But sustainable tourism is not the same as ‘eco-tourism’.
Naoto Sakaguchi, also a member of foreign affairs committee of the Japanese House, also emphasized the need for industrialization of the CHT, saying, ‘Industrialization should be given priority along with agriculture to boost the economic condition of the CHT.’
The area of Chittagong Hill Tracts, comprising the three hilly districts of Rrangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban, is about 13,184 sq kms, which is approximately one-tenth of the total area of Bangladesh.
The CHT is a distinct region in terms of its ethnic, cultural and environmental diversity compared to the rest of Bangladesh.

Tourism Development in violation of CHT Accord: PCJSS

Source: PCJSS

On 23 December 2009 in a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry undertook decision to promote tourism industry in CHT. The meeting was held at CHT Development Board conference in Rangamati with Committee Chairman Col (retd) Oli Ahmed in chair. The meeting was attended by members of the parliamentary standing committee, namely, planning minister Air Vice Martial (rtd) A K Khandakar, Md. Azizul Haque Chowdhury MP, Hamida Banu MP, Nawab Ali Abbas Khan and Shamsul Islam. Besides, secretary of planning ministry Habibullah Majumdar, secretary of CHT affairs ministry Masud Ahma, chairman of Tourism Corporation Hemayet Uddin Abdul Malek, deputy director of UNDP-CHTDF Prasenjit Chakma and Orshowja Chakma.

As part of the tourism development in CHT, the parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry decided to build road along the bank of Kaptai Lake. The road will be connected with Bandarban, Khagrachari and Chittagong districts. Decision was also taken to set up cable car, zoo and recreation centre for children along the road side.

It is mentionable that as per CHT Accord, the subject of ‘local tourism’ was vested with the three Hill District Councils (HDCs). As apex body of special administrative arrangement for CHT region, the CHT Regional Council (CHTRC) has the right to coordinate and supervise the subjects.

However, the subject of local tourism is yet to be transferred to HDCs. The parliamentary standing committee did not discuss to transfer subject to the HDCs. Moreover, the parliamentary standing committee undertook this decision without having consultation with HDCs and CHTRC. Even, representatives of these institutions were not invited in the meeting. Hence the decision of development of tourism in CHT is direct violation of CHT Accord. Though present government has been reiterating its commitment to implement CHT Accord fully, however, no initiative for implementation of main issues of the CHT Accord except reconstitution of few committees has been undertaken during the tenure of last one year.

It is also learnt that upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Bandarban sadar upazila (sub-district) Mr. Anupam Barua set up tourist centre at Kana Para area under Bandarban upazila by occupying land of indigenous people. A connecting road is also being constructed by the food for work project.

The owners of this land, namely, Mr. Mong Nue Prue Marma, Mr. Lal Lung Ruyal Bawm and Mr. Lal Pian Than Bawm contacted with UNO and objected against the construction of tourist centre on their land. However, UNO rejected their claims and filed case against them with Bandanban police station.

The owners of land submitted memorandum to state minister of CHT affairs ministry Mr. Dipankar Talukdar seeking justice and security. But no action has been taken against it so far.