Vol. 5 Num 70 Thu. August 05, 2004  

Geneva UN Working Group Meet
Govt urged to protect rights of indigenous people

The 22nd session of UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva has urged Bangladesh government to take steps to protect rights of indigenous people in the country.

Violation of rights of indigenous people in the country was the main topic of discussion on the second day of the five-day session held on July 19-23, said a press release issued by the three-member Bangladesh delegation that attended the conference.

The delegation comprised PCJSS (Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti) leader Mongola Kumar Chakma, Chakma Circle chief King Devashish Roy and a leader of PCJSS's student wing Pahari Chatra Parishad. They returned home recently, the press release said here yesterday.

The Working Group sent a letter to Prime Minister Khalada Zia expressing concern at "violation" of indigenous people's rights in different areas of the country and urged her to take steps to stop those, the press release said.

They also appealed to the Prime Minister to take prompt steps to resolve the remaining unresolved issued related to indigenous people.

The conference also discussed the CHT Peace Agreement signed between Bangladesh government and the PCJSS in 1997 and expressed the opinion that said its full implementation was the only way to ensure rights of tribesmen there and establish peace in the region, the press release said.

"The letter sent to the Prime Minister said the CHT accord provides a sound basis to ensure peace and justice in the long-neglected region (CHT)", Mongol told this correspondent.

"The CHT Peace Accord was discussed after we put it up at the conference.

"We also raised the Mohalchhari (in CHT) incident on August 26 last year and sought an independent and impartial probe".

"Delegates at the conference appealed to the Prime Minister to conduct an impartial inquiry into the (Mohalchhari) incident that left one person killed, nine women raped, 25 injured and 400 houses torched in 12 indigenous villages."

They urged the government to fully implement the CHT agreement and withdraw army from the area, Mongol Kumar said.

Delegates from the USA, France, Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Peru, Philippines, Malaysia, Nepal, Holland, Australia and Greenland attended the conference, the press release said.