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Monday, August 1, 2011

Indigenous People: UN rejects govt's view

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

The general segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session rejected the official position of Bangladesh government on the non-Bangalee people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), and adopted the report of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Bangladesh government, represented by Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, raised its concern over the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) going beyond its mandate in dealing with the issue of implementing the CHT Peace Accord, on the ground that there are no indigenous people in CHT.

The government also pleaded ECOSOC to delete some paragraphs of its10th session report.

But the request was not accepted following negotiations over the last three days of the weeklong session that ended on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland, said a press release of the International Council for the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT).

ECOSOC will not distinguish between indigenous and tribal groups, the release said.

ECOSOC is the parent organisation of UNPFII.

UNPFII assigned a special rapporteur, Lars-Anders Baer, who visited Bangladesh and independently undertook a study on the status of the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord 1997, and submitted a report to UNPFII during the 10th session of the forum in May this year.

In June, UNPFII called on the Bangladesh government to undertake a phased withdrawal of all temporary army camps from CHT, urged it to declare a timeframe for implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, and to establish an independent commission to inquire into human rights violations perpetrated against "indigenous peoples".

UNPFII further recommended that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) review the military personnel and units who are being sent on UN missions, to make sure no personnel or unit is taken from any that are accused by "indigenous Jumma people" of violating human rights in CHT.

At the ECOSOC session Bangladesh had to accept a "compromise" due to lacking solidarity from other 53 member-states. However the concerns of Bangladesh raised at the meeting were included as "noted" in the nature of "footnotes", the release said.

The US, Bolivia, Australia, Mexico, and Morocco welcomed the report's adoption while only China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia provided some support to the concerns raised by Bangladesh, the release added.

The Russian Federation supported the proposed draft amendment to the resolution, and stressed the importance of careful consideration of the definition of indigenous people, and careful interpretation of the UNPFII mandate.

The US said it believes the resolution is consistent with the mandate of the UNPFII.

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