Jul 23, 2004

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Call to Enact Law to Safeguard Human Rights of Ethnic Groups

Speakers at a training programme called on the government to enact and enforce law to safeguard the universal human rights of ethnic groups
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Speakers at a training programme yesterday called on the government to enact and enforce law to safeguard the universal human rights of ethnic groups.

The existing protective law is not enough to ensure human rights of the indigenous people, said German Ambassador Dietrich Andreas as chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the three-day training programme.

Odhikar, a human rights organisation, arranged the training programme on 'Capacity building of the ethnic communities on human rights monitoring and documentation' in the city.

Ethnic communities and their culture should be protected to uphold the vibrant and dynamic cultural heritage of the country and the multi-cultural identity, the ambassador said.

He also called for raising awareness to protect the human rights of ethnic population.

"In Bangladesh, the sensitive issue of human rights abuse is easily identifiable," the ambassador added.

Identifying land grabbing as a major problem facing the ethnic minority people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, he said the Land Commission formed under the CHT peace treaty has been non-functional.

The ambassador regretted that the formation of an independent human rights commission has had no significant progress as yet.

Syed Fahim Munaim, managing editor of The Daily Star, said the universal human rights should apply to any group of people in equal way. "Using the term ethnic itself is discriminatory."

The ethnic population is very much the citizens of the country as any other is, he said, adding that nobody can violate the human rights of any people.

The media, alongside the human right organisations, have important role to play in dealing with human rights issues, he said and called on the newsmen to be extremely cautious and careful while disseminating facts regarding the human rights.

Sixteen representatives from eight ethnic communities are taking part in the training which aims at enabling them to monitor human rights situation in the indigenous people-inhabited areas, said Odhikar Director Masud Alam Raghib Ahsan.

Odhikar President Dr Tasneem Siddiqui presided over the inaugural ceremony.

Source: The Daily Star