The New Age
CHT Commission asks ECOSOC to adhere to UNPFII report
International watchdog Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission on Friday called on the United Nations Economic and Social Council for not responding to the Bangladesh government’s objection to the report of the 10th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to adhere to the report as it is.
The Bangladesh government raised objections to two of the paragraphs in the report which deal with the UN peacekeeping forces and wants them expunged.
The commission in a letter to the ECOSOC president, Lazarous Kapambwe, cited recent remarks of Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dipu Moni declining to give national minorities in Bangladesh the status of indigenous people and said that it had found the remarks discriminatory and disrespectful towards hill people.
It also said that Dipu Moni’s remarks reflected substantive and discriminatory misinterpretation of Bangladeshi laws and international human rights laws.
The letter said that UNFII member Devashish Roy, who is a traditional community chief in hill tracts and elected by indigenous communities in Asia, had lodged protests against Dipu Moni’s remarks which received nationwide support from national minorities and a wide section of mainstream civic forums of Bangladesh.
The commission also observed that ‘by making such objectionable remarks about the permanent forum’s report and about the indigenous peoples of the CHT, the foreign minister is also implicitly questioning the competence and expertise of the sixteen members of the Permanent Forum, which includes eight respected experts of indigenous origin and eight respected governmental experts elected by members of the ECOSOC.’
Citing newspaper reports, the letter, signed by the commission co-chairs Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Elsa Stamatpoulou, said that the reason behind the foreign minister’s statements to journalists and the diplomatic community was in fact related to ECOSOC’s current session in Geneva where the UNPFII report would be discussed.
The commission said that the Bangladesh government was serious about the two paragraphs in the report that suggests human rights screening of military personnel deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to be recruited in UN peacekeeping forces and wants the paragraphs expunged.
‘The CHT Commission would like to iterate its agreement with the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, including on the implementation of the provisions of the CHT Accord, and those addressed to the UN’s Department of Peace Keeping Operations that it should develop a mechanism to screen human rights violations committed by military personnel and that it should prevent human rights violators and alleged human rights violators within the security forces of Bangladesh from participating in international peacekeeping activities under the auspices of the United Nations,’ the letter said.
‘The CHT Commission hopes that the UN Economic and Social Council would adhere to its non-discriminatory approach and adopt the report of the 10th session of the Permanent Forum and all its recommendations, including those related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997,’ it said.
Note: ECOSOC has adopted the report of the Permanent Forum, the Bangladesh representative agreeing to the decision for the sake of consensus, while grumbling that the Special Rapporteur had not disclosed his identity, mandate and objective while interacting with the authorities in a violation of established norms and practices. Whatever the etiquette may be, however, it doesn't invalidate the recommendations by the Special Rapporteur, which were endorsed by the Pernmanent Forum and now by ECOSOC itself:
102. The Permanent Forum takes note of the study by Lars-Anders Baer on the status of the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997 (E/C.19/2011/6). The Permanent Forum also takes note of the concerns raised by the representative of the Government of Bangladesh, as well as other Governments, indigenous peoples’ organizations and non-governmental organizations, during the discussions at the tenth session. Further, the Permanent Forum notes the steps taken by the Government of Bangladesh to implement the Accord. The Permanent Forum recommends the following:
(a) That, consistent with the code of conduct for United Nations peacekeeping personnel, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations prevent military personnel and units that are violating human rights from participating in
international peacekeeping activities under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to maintain the integrity of the indigenous peoples concerned;
(b) That the Government of Bangladesh declare a timeline and outline modalities of implementation and persons and/or institutions responsible for implementation;
(c) That the Government of Bangladesh undertake a phased withdrawal of temporary military camps from the region and otherwise demilitarize the region, consistent with the safeguards of the peace accord, which will contribute to the
ultimate objective of peace and economic and social development, and improve the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Government of Bangladesh;
(d) That the Government of Bangladesh establish a high-level, independent and impartial commission of enquiry into human rights violations perpetrated against indigenous peoples, including sexual violence against women and girls, and prosecute and punish the perpetrators, as well as provide reparations for the victims concerned.
103. The Permanent Forum recognizes the opportunity created by the consultations on constitutional amendments in Bangladesh and encourages peaceful dialogue between the Government and indigenous peoples aimed at implementing the
Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord and addressing the substantial concerns raised in the report and during the tenth session of the Permanent Forum, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The New Nation
CHT Commission resents FM’s statement on ethnic groups
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, a non-governmentinternational organization has objectedto statements made recently by Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni,stating that it was a 'misperception' and 'misrepresentation' to refer to theethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as 'indigenous'
Her remarks on the hill tracts peoples is discriminatory anddisrespectful towards them as full citizens of Bangladesh, and also reflects asubstantive and discriminatory misinterpretation of Bangladeshi law and historyand of international human rights law, the CHT Commission said in a statementforwarded to the President of the UN economic and social council
The statement, jointly signed by Eric Avebury,Sultana kamal and Elsa Stamatopoulou, all the three Co-chair of theCHT Commission, was issued on Friday.
The commissionasserted that the majoritarianismapproach and claim of ethnic superiority reflected in the assertions made bythe Foreign Minister denies the basic values of pluralism and diversity that isobserved in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
The CHT Commission believes that the Foreign Minister'scomments reflect a lack of commitment on the part of the Bangladesh Governmenttowards its national and international obligations, including those containedin the 2008 Election Manifesto of the Bangladesh Awami League, the majorcomponent of the current Grand Alliance government, and the provisions of theILO Convention 107 and other international human rights standards, among others.
It also reflects the government's discomfort at thesuggestion of human rights screening for the Bangladeshi components of the UNDepartment of Peacekeeping Operations, many of whom are actively taking part inthe Bangladesh military's de facto operation, Operation Uttoron, in the CHT,which purports to provide a legal cover to the Bangladesh Army's role incivilian affairs, which is in violation of the laws of Bangladesh andinternational human rights standards, norms and practices.
The CHT Commission reiterated its agreement with therecommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, including on the implementationof the provisions of the CHT Accord, and those addressed to the UN's Departmentof Peace Keeping Operations that it should develop a mechanism to screen humanrights violations committed by military personnel and that it should preventhuman rights violators and alleged human rights violators within the securityforces of Bangladesh from participating in international peacekeeping activitiesunder the auspices of the United Nations.
The CHT Commission hopes that the UN Economic and SocialCouncil will adhere to its non-discriminatory approach and adopt the report ofthe 10th session of the Permanent Forum and all its recommendations, including those related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997