Chittagong Hill Tracts : The UN calls on the Government of Bangladesh to fully implement the Peace Accord and requests 'unrestricted access for independent actors to visit the area'
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michael Bachelet concluded her official visit to Bangladesh on 17 August 2022 in Dhaka. During the press conference that followed the visit, Ms. Bachelet underlined the importance of protecting minority groups and indigenous people from land right infringements and violence.
Despite the fact that the historic accord, popularly known as the CHT Accord, was signed in 1997 between the government of Bangladesh and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) aiming at resolving Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) problem through political and peaceful means - as the people in the ground continue to face serious human rights abuses.
The CHT Accord was signed on 2 December 1997 and recognised the Chittagong Hill Tracts region as a tribal-inhabited region. The Accord was meant to pave the way for peace and development for the indigenous people living in the CHT. However, demilitarization, the introduction of a special governance system, resolution of land disputes and the preservation of status of the region for tribal-inhabitants are yet to be implemented. The continuing military presence, land disputes and gross human rights violations the tribal people in CHT are subjected to are of concern to the High commissioner.
The current Awami League government, one of the signatory parties of the Accord, has remained in power since 2009. Yet the government did not step forward in implementing the core issues of the Accord.
After signing the Accord, the then government implemented a few provisions including the enactment of laws as per the CHT Accord.
Nonetheless, two-thirds of the provisions of the Accord, including core issues such as land dispute resolution, demilitarization, establishing special administrative system with proper power and functions, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and refugees and so forth, have not been implemented properly. As a result, the desired political solution to the CHT crisis, has not been reached and the situation now became alarming.
The UNPO, jointly with its member, the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) have been actively engaged in raising the issue within the international fora. Both organisations welcome the High Commissioner’s statement and joins the UN in calling on the government of Bangladesh to fully implement the Peace Accord in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and to grant unrestricted access for independent actors to visit the area.
The press release of the High Commissioner can be found here.