IWGIA: New report documents militarization in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
We expect that the report will be a lobby instrument for IWGIA’s indigenous partners in their advocacy work for implementation of the Cittagong Hill Tracts Accord. Already the report has been presented to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and various UN agencies during the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in May 2012.
The objective of the report is to document the human rights violations committed against indigenous populations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and to analyze the historical background and the present status of human rights violations involving military personnel, as well as the excessive military deployment in the CHT. In 1997, the peace treaty known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord was signed between the indigenous political party PCJSS and the Government of Bangladesh. This contained, among other things, provisions for the region’s demilitarization, the settlement of land disputes and a form of regional autonomy. Fourteen years on from the signing of the CHT Accord, however, de facto military rule still continues, something to which this report attests. At the 2011 session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) a report entitled “Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997” was submitted. The report expressed concern that the 1997 CHT Accord had hardly been implemented, noting de facto military rule and the excessive deployment of armed forces in the region. On the basis of this report, the UNPFII recommended that the Government of Bangladesh declare a timeline for implementation of the Accord and withdraw all temporary military camps from the CHT. Further this report raises concerns about the dispatch of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, touching upon its significance for the Bangladesh military, and discusses what needs to be done by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other international actors. It is thus hoped that the report will be an entry point for a genuine dialogue involving all stakeholders, including the Government of Bangladesh, on how to restore peace and normality in the CHT.