Minority Rights »
Home
Home »Human Rights Monitoring »Minority Rights

Press Statement by UNPO on the Universal Periodic Review of Bangladesh »

May 12, 2013

Press Statement by UNPO on the Universal Periodic Review of Bangladesh

Geneva, Switzerland

8 May 2013

 

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is deeply disappointed with the report of the Government of Bangladesh, including their responses to the questions and recommendations by States at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in Geneva. In particular, Bangladesh had made a clear commitment at the first UPR cycle in 2009 to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord and to respect the rights of indigenous peoples as part of their Election Manifesto. Nevertheless, we appreciate the positive response from Bangladesh of accepting the recommendations on the implementation of the CHT Accord.

The indigenous peoples of CHT have been subjected to widespread human rights violations for decades of military-style rule in their homeland. These massive human rights violations include among others widespread displacement, forced assimilation, unlawful arrest and detention based on false charges, and political killings, causing instability and conflicts.  Because of this situation, the indigenous peoples engaged in the peace process that started with the signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997 by the Bangladesh government remain in a problematic situation, due to the militarization of CHT.

UNPO believes that the complete implementation of the CHT Peace Accord is very critical in the survival and development as well as the exercise of the individual and collective rights of the indigenous peoples of CHT. It is also necessary for the achievement of a lasting peace in CHT, and the resolution of numerous land disputes. Over the years, there have been repeated demands that the Bangladesh government honor their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the CHT Peace Accord. The UPR session on Bangladesh at the UN Human Rights Council would have been a good opportunity for the new government of Bangladesh to  demonstrate its political will to implement the Peace Accord, yet Bangaldesh failed to do so in spite of the verbal commitment it made during the national stakeholders consultations prior to the UPR.

UNPO welcomes the States who have raised the concerns of the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh and recommended the full and effective implementation of the CHT Accord as a matter of priority for the Bangladesh government, such as the government of Australia, Denmark, Ecuador, and Norway among others. These recommendations are very encouraging to continue demanding for the accountability and obligation of the government of Bangladesh to the CHT Peace Accord. 

UNPO calls on the government of Bangladesh to commit itself to the implementation of these recommendations during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council later this year.  It will be a great setback to indigenous peoples if Bangladesh continues to ignore the CHT Peace Accord implementation and to fail upholding the rights of the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh, which is contrary to their election Manifesto.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission | »

May 12, 2013

PRESS STATEMENT

The UPR Review of Bangladesh: state parties show concern for human rights issues of indigenous peoples and religious minorities of Bangladesh

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission urges the Government to immediately implement the 1997 CHT Accord in full

(2 May 2013, Dhaka) The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) appreciates the statements made by several States which placed great emphasis on the importance of implementing the 1997 CHT Accord in full, at the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on 29 April, 2013.

A number of participating countries commended the Government for the progress made to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord but observed with concern that many important provisions of the Accord have yet to be implemented. They recommended that the Government fully implement the Accord and create a roadmap with a timeframe for its implementation. They also called for immediate action to amend the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 to reflect the CHT Accord. A number of countries called on the Government to ratify ILO Convention No 169 and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and religious minorities, including ensuring the safety and security of places of their worship.

The Government of Bangladesh, in the national report that it submitted to the UPR process, stated that most of the clauses of the Accord have been fully or partially implemented and a modest number is under implementation.

It is however the view of the CHTC that some of the main factors responsible for unrest and human rights violations in the CHT, especially ongoing land disputes and militarization, remain far from properly addressed:

·         Although the Government points out that 283 military camps have been dismantled from the CHT, the area still remains heavily militarized.  The PCJSS (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity) party estimates that the number of military camps withdrawn to date is around 74, out of more than 500 (temporary) military camps.

·         Whilst the Land Commission was set up and a chairperson appointed during this term of the Grand Alliance, necessary amendments to the Land Commission Act to make it conform to the CHT Accord have still not been adopted. 

·         During his three-year tenure, the Chairperson of the Land Commission failed to settle any land dispute in the CHT and was perceived to have worked against the interests of the indigenous people.

·         Disappointingly, the Government has yet to appoint his successor, which raises doubts about the willingness of the Government’s stated commitment to make progress on the key issue of the land rights of indigenous people. The Land Commission chairman’s post has been vacant since 20 July 2012.

·         The Government has placed restrictions on NGOs seeking to monitor human rights violations in the area, including restrictions on the movement of the CHTC. Protests over these restrictions have had no effect.

·         The CHTC was particularly distressed by the Foreign Minister’s apparent denial of the identity of the indigenous people living in the CHT and elsewhere in the country, referring to them officially as ‘ethnic minorities’, along with her lack of sensitivity, which was evidenced by her response to a question in which she stated that “all Bangladeshis” were indigenous people, thus undermining the right of indigenous people in the CHT to explicit recognition of their separate identity.

 

Continuing harassment of civil society in the CHT is common. For example, the Rangamati Deputy Commissioner’s office asked local non-government organizations (NGOs) in November 2011 to submit a report regarding, among others, information about the percentage of Bangali and Pahari beneficiaries, and the percentage of Bangali and ‘Upajati’ [tribal] employees. In no other part of Bangladesh are NGOs asked to give the ethnic make-up of their beneficiaries or employees in this manner to the district administration. We are not aware of any laws in the country which direct NGOs to maintain such ethnicity percentages and under which such a report could be deemed necessary.

 

The CHTC has also observed with concern the increasing restrictions on civil society in the name of security in the CHT. We are aware that foreigners in the CHT have been handed instructions to give a complete schedule of every place they plan to visit and every person they expect to talk to. Hotels in the CHT have also received directions to not take any bookings in foreigners’ names unless they have clearance from the district administration. In a democratic country, the singling out of the CHT with such instructions not only breaches the rights to liberty and freedom of association and expression but also raises serious concerns about the intentions of the Government of Bangladesh regarding implementation of the CHT Accord as promised in their Election Manifesto.

In August 2011, the Bandarban district administration reportedly ordered British national Jeremy Paul Allen to leave the district because he had participated in a solidarity program of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum calling for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples at the Bandarban Press Club. CHTC adviser Thomas Eskildsen, a US national, was summarily asked to leave Bandarban Hill District in January 2012, and later barred from entering Bangladesh. Swedish journalist, Per Liljas, who reported about human rights violations of indigenous people in international media, was also deported from Bandarban in July 2012. In our view, these acts constitute serious violations of human rights, including the fundamental right not to be discriminated against, which is enshrined in all human rights instruments. We deplore such acts by the Government and recommend that the Government of Bangladesh immediately withdraw directives to the local administration in the CHT and allow free movement of persons in and out of the three hill districts, like the rest of the country, as should be the practice in any democratic country.

Restrictions have also been placed on the work of the CHTC itself. The CHTC has been carrying out periodic missions to the CHT since August 2008. Our missions have always focused on engaging all stakeholders in the process of facilitating the Government to implement the 1997 CHT Accord. The work of the CHTC is to support the Government and especially the Ministry for CHT Affairs (the establishment of which was an outcome of the CHT Accord itself) in identifying obstacles to such implementation. Despite this, we have faced constant physical surveillance from members of the intelligence agencies. In September 2010 the Government gave written instructions to CHTC placing restrictions on the work of the CHTC. In November 2011 CHTC members had to return from CHT without completing their mission as a result of restrictions placed during their work. This is a violation of basic rights, including the right to freedom of movement and personal liberty, as well as freedom of expression and CHTC protested these instructions and asked the Government to withdraw these restrictions but did not receive any response. All these acts are contrary to the Government’s pledge to implement the CHT Accord and bring peace to the CHT.

 

In light of the upcoming national elections, the CHTC would like to remind the Government of its election pledge to implement the 1997 CHT Accord in full, a pledge that was reiterated in the 2009 UPR session, when the Government of Bangladesh stated that it would fully implement the Accord “in the shortest possible time within the framework of the constitution of Bangladesh”. With very little time left before the end of its tenure, the CHTC, consonant with the statements of a number of state parties at the recently concluded UPR, calls upon the Government to fulfill this pledge as a matter of priority. 

On behalf of the CHT Commission,

              

Eric Avebury                            Sultana Kamal                                     Elsa Stamatopoulou

Co-chair of the                        Co-chair of the                        Co-chair of the

CHT Commission                     CHT Commission                     CHT Commission

 

 

 

Note to editors: On 29 April, Bangladesh underwent a review as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member States once every four years under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council. During the three-hour session, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh presented the national report and responded to the questions and concerns that were raised by other states and heard the recommendations by them. The issue of the implementation of the 1997 CHT Accord and rights of ethnic and religious minorities were also brought up by several states during the session.

Media contact:
Hana Shams Ahmed, Coordinator, International CHT Commission;
Phone: 01819289622; email: chtcomm@gmail.com

An indigenous Marma woman injured and beaten by Bengali settlers at Bangalhalia »

May 12, 2013

An indigenous Marma woman injured and beaten by Bengali settlers at Bangalhalia
 
On 25 April 2013, two Bengali settlers named Alauddhin Kosai (45) and his son Russel Kosai (16) beat an indigenous Marma girl named Thuima Ching Marma (35) wife of Chathowai Prue Marma at Bangalhalia Bazar area  of Rajsthali upazila in Rangamati.
 
It is learnt that around 4.30 pm Alauddhin and his son went to cut bamboo at  Chathowai Prue’s bamboo garden without any permission from owner at Dak Banglo area, the adjacent area of Chathowai Prue’s house. Thuima Ching came forward and protested against cutting of bamboos from their garden. The miscreants started beating and hitting her inhumanly by their sticks while she tried to oppose them from cutting their bamboos. The perpetrators fled away when local people gathered at the incident’s place. The victim was seriously wounded and received treatment from adjacent Union Parishad Clinic. The community people were getting ready to go to police station to file a case against culprits on behalf of victim.
 

Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

Email: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.comkapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: www.kapaeeng.org

An 8 year old indigenous Chakma girl killed after rape in Dighinala »

May 12, 2013

An 8 year old indigenous Chakma girl killed after rape in Dighinala

On 9 April 2013, an 8 year old indigenous girl named Champa Chakma, daughter of Rokkeya Chakma has been killed allegedly after rape at Rangapanichora village of  Merung union of Dighinala upazila in Khagrachari district. She was a class three student of Dokkhin Rangapanichora Government Primary School. 
 
It is reported that on 9 April 2013, Champa and her younger brother with speech disabilities went to jungle to collect wild vegetables in Rangapani Chara. Champa’s parent and villagers were worried when Champa’s younger brother came back home alone in the evening. But he could not express his speech properly due to his speech disabilities. He tried to make community people understand that Champa was forcibly taken away from there by three Bengali settlers, and was able to escape from the scene. On the next day, Champa Chakma’s dead body was found in Rangapanichora jungle with two chopping marks around her neck.  The police rushed to the spot to rescue the dead body under its custody. Still police investigation report is delivered by police department. 

Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

Email: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.comkapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: www.kapaeeng.org

Seven Jumma villagers tortured by army of Sindukchari camp in Ramgarh »

May 12, 2013

Seven Jumma villagers tortured by army of Sindukchari camp in Ramgarh
 
On 26 April 2013 at around 10:00 pm, seven indigenous Tripura villagers were beaten brutally by a group of army led by Major Raqib of  Sindukchari camp at Boishnob Para of Boro Pilak area of Halfchari union under Rangarh upazila in Khagrachari district. They were released on that night with serious injuries of beating. It is learnt that, the settlers grabbed indigenous lands, and planted a mango garden together with some settler families in that area. On 20 April 2013, UPDF activists damaged the mango garden by cutting 218 mango tress of owner Md. Abdur Rob (45). After few days, on 26 April 2013 at around 10 pm, some unknown group of miscreants set a fire in a small hut of Siddiqur Rahaman. The settlers began shouting and screaming when they saw the fire. After few minutes, a group of army personnel from Sindukchari camp rushed at the indigenous village Boishnob Para at the spot. The soldiers tortured brutally to the following indigenous guys.

The army soldiers wanted to prove that the villagers were involved in setting fire at settler village. But the army failed to establish their involvement with the fire incident, and released them on the same night after beating. The Army ordered to the victims to keep silence against their such tortures. The torture victims are Kanti Kishor Tripura (30) son of Binoy Kishor Tripura, Keton Kishor Tripura (28) son of Binoy Kishor Tripura, Ratan Das Tripura (35) son of  Dhananjoy Tripura, Ripon Tripura (18) son of Shanti Tripura, Ranjan Tripura (15) son of Kamalanda Tripura, Chitta Das Tripura( 17) son of late Nitananda Das Tripura and Shashi Das Tripura (35).
 

Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

Email: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.comkapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: www.kapaeeng.org

Bengali settlers attack on indigenous villagers in connection to land grabbing in Lama »

May 12, 2013

Bengali settlers attack on indigenous villagers in connection to land grabbing in Lama
 
On 13 April 2013, a communal attack was made by Bengali settlers on Marma indigenous community in Choto Nonar Bill area of Lama upazila in Bandarban district. Total 14 people have been injured, and 2 indigenous villagers were arrested by military from that area. It is known that Thuinumong Marma wanted to make a boundary wall on his father’s land. But a group of miscreants of Md Abdul Ohab and Abul Khayer forbade to Thuinumong not to build a boundary wall.
 
In this connection, Thuinumong filed a case against perpetrators on that day.  The case file number is 501, dated 13/04/2013. After filing a case when he went to his land, he saw the miscreants already broke the wall. When he went to protest along with community people, the Bengali settlers attacked on them. At least 14 people of both groups including Thuimong Marma (29) s/o Tujathoi Marma and Nepa Marma (27) s/o Kejsing Marma were injured. The settlers again complaint at the Champatoli army camp under Lama zone, and then on that day at 3:30 pm, a group of army led by Major Kamrul of 30 Bengal came to Nonar bill area, and arrested to  Thuimong Marma and Nepa Marma. The solders took them at the camp, and released after a night to local representatives of that area.
 
It is known that, Abdul Ohab was originally from plain district Noakhali. He came to Bandarban with his job of WAPDA. He bought land illegally breaking the provisions of Hill District Council Act of 1989. According to the buying land and real property Thuinumong’s father is the land owner, but Abdul Ohab has been demanding illegally that land. A case was filed in connection with this incident.

Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

Email: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.comkapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: www.kapaeeng.org

Urgent Appeal | Ethnic Violence between Arakan Buddhists and Rakhine Muslims | Myanmar »

November 5, 2012

Sub: Appeal to take urgent and effective steps to stop ethnic violence between Rohingya and Rakhine communities in Arakan State in Myanmar.

H.E. Ambassador,

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a leading Human Rights organisation of Bangladesh is in a consultative status with UNECOSOC is deeply concerned over the news of ethnic violence between Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya communities in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.


On October 21 renewed violence between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims continued through the week, leaving 84 people dead, wounded 129 and more than 28,000 people displaced[1]. The death toll could be higher than the official statistics. Earlier in June this year, ethnic violence in the province had left at least 90 people dead and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. Approximately 75,000 people have been displaced and are currently living in refugee camps.

We therefore, earnestly request that you convey our immediate concerns to your respective government to address the ongoing violence in the Arakan province by taking effective and necessary measures in order to restore peace and harmony among all the ethnic and religious groups; provide immediate humanitarian support to the victims of violence and initiate reconciliation process in the region.

We solicit your utmost attention in this regard.



[1] The Daily Star, 31st October 2012