Discussion in Dhaka urges government
The discussants urged the government to implement the UPR recommendations related to indigenous peoples by May 2018. The discussion meeting titled “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh” was organized by the Coalition of Indigenous Peoples Organizations on UPR at the Daily Star Centre in Dhaka.
The discussion meeting was presided over by Mr. Rabindranath Soren, President of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad and Chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation while the keynote was delivered by Bablu Chakma, Secretariat Coordinator, Indigenous UPR Coalition. Banchita Chakma, Member of National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh; Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; Mahbubul Hoque, Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Human Rights and Development and Advocate Md. Tajul Islam, Advisor of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), among others, also addressed the discussion.
The speakers told that the government received a number of recommendations related to indigenous peoples during the first and second cycle review of Bangladesh held in 2009 and 2013 respectively. The recommendations were on different issues affecting indigenous peoples in Bangladesh such as ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, full implementation of the CHT Accord, protection of indigenous peoples and religious minorities, and addressing violence against indigenous women and girls. However, the progress in regards to implementation of the recommendation received by the government over past few years have been very poor. Moreover, recent large-scale attacks on indigenous peoples in Longadu and Gaibandha, allegedly with support from the state forces, demonstrates rather an unfriendly role of the government towards the rights of indigenous peoples.
The speakers urged the government to implement the UPR recommendations fully before the next review of Bangladesh to be held in May 2018. Otherwise, a bad image of the government will be created before the international community in the next UPR review. They also urged the indigenous rights defenders and civil society rights advocates not to give up and get tired in raising their voices for indigenous peoples.
During the open discussion, indigenous rights defenders coming from different regions of the country, including Sylhet, North Bengal, Madhupur and the CHT, and members of mainstream civil society organizations shared their views on the situations of indigenous peoples in light of UPR recommendations. They mentioned that the on-ground situation of indigenous peoples of the regionhave not improved much or in some cases worsened despite the UPR recommendations received by the government. They urged the Indigenous UPR Coalition to incorporate the burning issues affecting indigenous peoples in the country in the upcoming UPR stakeholder report of the Coalition.
With regard to implement the the recommendations received by the government and to address the issues affecting indigenous peoples in the country the discussion meeting put forward following demands to the government:
- Implement the CHT Accord 1997 fully declaring a time-bound roadmap for implementation.
- Ratify the ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
- Form an independent land commission and set up a separate ministry for plains indigenous peoples.
- End violence against indigenous women and children and make legal aid services available to the victims of violence.
- Enact indigenous peoples rights act to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.
Source: Kapaeeng Foundation