Government representatives at a United Nations special session have denied existence of indigenous people in Bangladesh.
They also protested a UN study report that says the government has not done enough to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord.
Iqbal Ahmed, first secretary of the Bangladesh Mission in New York, on Thursday made the comment during the session on the 1997 CHT peace deal signed during the then Awami League government to restore calm in the hills.
Lars Anders Baer, special rapporteur of UN, presented the study report titled “Status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.”
"Bangladesh does not have any indigenous population,” said Iqbal Ahmed following the presentation, according to a press release of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS).
“The accord has nothing to do with indigenous issues and therefore, the government of Bangladesh reiterates its position that the forum, which is mandated to deal with indigenous issues, need not discuss issues related to the CHT peace accord."
The UN report recommended, among others, developing “a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen the human rights records of [Bangladesh] army personnel prior to allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations."
While working on the report, Lars Anders met with the CHT civil administration and cabinet members including the foreign minister and CHT affairs minister, law minister and land minister.
He also submitted the report to the government but did not get any response, the press release added.
"We urge upon the UN forum to dedicate its valuable time to discuss issues related to millions of indigenous people all over the world and not waste time on issues politically concocted by some enthusiastic quarters with questionable motives," said Iqbal.
After his comment, government delegations from Denmark and Guatemala, representatives of international indigenous population and international human rights groups emphasised that Bangladesh has not done enough to implement the peace deal.
"Failure to implement the peace accord could cause renewed instability in the region. Denmark would like to encourage the government of Bangladesh to set up a roadmap with a timeframe to implement the remaining parts of the accord,” said Steen Hansen, representative of Danish government.
A high-level delegation led by state minister for CHT affairs Dipankar Talukdar cancelled the trip to New York at the last minute.