May 12, 2004

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Bangladesh government bars Shantu Larma from leaving for UN conference in US

Larma, chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, was not allowed to leave the country to attend the third session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, president of Bangladesh Forum for Indigenous People, could not leave for the USA as the government has barred him from leaving the country.

He failed to join the third session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) conference scheduled for May 10-21at the UN headquarters in New York because of a restriction slapped on him by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

"The PM did not allow me to go there. I don't want to make any comment on it right now," Larma, also chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council (CHTRC), told The Daily Star last evening.

The UNPFII secretariat invited him to attend the international conference, which is likely to discuss problems related to indigenous people.

After the PM restricted Larma's trip abroad, representatives of donor agencies at Bangladesh Development Forum's meeting last Sunday asked the government the reason behind the ban. No government response on the issue was available.

On May 5, the secretary of CHT affairs ministry acknowledged Larma, who requires PM's autho-risation to fly abroad, was denied the privilege. The secretary said the PM does not want any VIP or MP go out of the country now, sources said.

In a statement, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity, a forum of indigenous people, condemned the government's refusal to allow Larma to join the UNPFII conference in the US.

The government has violated fundamental rights granted by the constitution and also denied the right of a national leader with ethnic background to attend a UN conference, it added.

The statement also criticised the government for denying a citizen's rights to go abroad.


Source: The Daily Star