Govt apathy to implement CHT treaty dismays Sultana Kamal

Co-chairperson of CHT Commission Adv Sultana Kamal on Sunday expressed deep concern over the government’s indifference to implementing the CHT Peace Treaty and restrictions on the foreign citizens’ visit to the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

“Unfortunately, we have seen no visible step from the Awami League government to fully implement the CHT Peace Treaty although it signed the accord during its previous tenure 15 years ago,” she told a press conference at the National Press Club in the city.

Sultana Kamal said the government has imposed restrictions on the foreign citizens’ visit to the CHT blaming them for provoking the indigenous people into insurgency in the hill region. “At least three foreign citizens were suspended from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the last three years,” he said.

Tom Eskildsen, co-president of Jummanet Japan and adviser to the International CHT Commission, was denied entry into Bangladesh on 23 July.

He had been to Bangladesh nearly 20 times in the last 25 years and this was the first time he has not been allowed entry.

Sultana Kamal, also executive director of Ain O Salish Kendra, voiced deep concern over an increase in violence against women in the CHT region.

“At least 12 indigenous women fell victim to violence by Bangalee settlers in the CHT region in last six months. Most of them were victims of sexual harassment,” she said.

The CHT Commission co-chairperson urged the government to conduct fair probe into these incidents and demanded stern punishment of those to be found guilty.

About the government’s non-cooperation in observing the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples that falls on August 9, she said the LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry has sent letters to all district administrations directing them not to provide any sort of cooperation for observing the day. “This kind of initiative from the government is not only unacceptable but also irrational.”

Addressing on the occasion, CHT Commission member Swapan Adnan said the land dispute contributes to deepening the ongoing crisis in the hill region. “If the hill land would have been returned to the indigenous people, most of the problems could be resolved.”

Executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Dr Iftekharuzzaman and CHT Commission members Sara Hossain and Khushi Kabir also spoke at the press conference.

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