Implement peace accord to solve
land problem in Chittagong Hill Tracts
of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord is a must to resolve the
land problem of the indigenous people, said the speakers at a roundtable
said the acts which are appropriate for the plain land, cannot solve the
land problem of hilly areas. It should be resolved in the light of the
traditional rules and regulations.
roundtable titled ' Land in CHT: Hill peoples' rights, peace accord,
laws of the land and necessary actions' was organised jointly by the
Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) and Global Network
for the Prevention of Torture (GNPT) at
auditorium of Young Women Christian Association in the city.
speakers stressed the need for establishing conventional land rights of
indigenous people giving back the grabbed lands to them.
also called for making the land commission effective and cancelling the
lease given to people who are not resident of CHT.
Minister for CHT Affairs Moni Swapan Dewan said it is not possible for
his ministry alone to resolve the land problem which is very complex in
Concerted efforts of the forest and land ministries are essential to
solve the land problem in CHT," he said, adding that implementation
of the peace accord is a continuous process and everything will be
The present government has taken initiatives to strengthening the local
district administration in this regard. Formulation of regulations to
supervise the CHT Regional Council is to be completed soon," he
presenting a keynote paper GNPT Coordinator Fazlous Sattar said the
previous government formed a Land Commission without any prior
consultation with the CHT Regional Council.
the act which was enacted later in this regard was also unilateral as
well as in clear deviation from the provisions of the peace accord, he
stressed the need for developing effective strategy for advocacy both at
national and international levels.
District Headman Association President Shakti Pada Tripura said lack of
government's willingness, absence of law as per peace accord,
bureaucratic tangle and communal mentality in the administration are the
main hindrances to effective functioning of land commission.
of ALRD Khushi Kabir chaired the roundtable which was also addressed by
Prof Dalem Chandra Barman, Dr Sadeka Halim, Editor of the New Age Nurul
Kabir and ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda.
this article online at http://www.thedailystar.net/2006/08/19/d60819060684.htm
peoples' human rights
by Khandaker Farzana Rahman
suffered by the victims of minority discrimination and related
intolerance is well known in the world including Bangladesh. Limited
employment opportunities, segregation and endemic poverty are only a
few. The disadvantages faced by them in society are also familiar: lower
pay for work of equal value; high illiteracy rate; and poor access to
health care, etc.
minority, immigrant, and ingenious people having limited employment
opportunities are at the bottom of the labour market. Maurice
Gledle-Ahanhanzo, the special investigator on the subject of the UN
Commission on Human Rights, studied the situation of indigenous women in
the labour market when he visited Brazil in 1995. He concluded that,
“black women receive the lowest salaries (four times lower than that
of a white one), are employed in the most unhealthy locations, work a
triple working day and face threefold discrimination.”
are ingenious people?
Indigenous people are the people living in an area prior to colonisation
by a state or the people living in an area within a nation state, prior
to the formation of the nation state, but who do not identify with the
dominant nation or the descendants of either of the above.
UN Commission on Human Rights has provided the following definition:
“Indigenous people are composed of the peoples who inhabited the
present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when
persons of a different culture or ethnic origin came there by
peoples in New World
In the New World, the White European colonizers arrived and settled
suddenly, with drastic results. The indigenous people were pushed aside
and marginalised by the dominant descendants of Europeans. Modern
estimates place the 15th century, or pre-Columbus, population of North
America at 12 to 15 million. By the 1890s, it had been reduced to
approximately 3000000. In parts of Latin America, the results were
similar; in others, there are still majority indigenous populations.
They still face the same obstacles as indigenous peoples elsewhere
primarily, separation from their lands.
people in Bangladesh
In Chittagong Hill Tracts, the term indigenous people or Adivasi(in
Bengali) applies to eleven montagnard or hill peoples: Bawm, Chak,
Chakma, Khumi, Khyang, Lushai, Marma, Tanchangya, Tripura. They are
mainly known as Pahari. In the central and north-western parts of
Bangladesh, the Koch, Rajbangshi, Munda and Santhal live.
taken by United Nations
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states the rights for
indigenous people: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights. And all are equal before the law and are entitled without
any discrimination to equal protection of law.
ILO Convention No. 107 of 1957 provides the promotion of improved social
and economic conditions for indigenous peoples.
In 1970, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities (a subsidiary body of the Commission on Human
Rights) commissioned special Rapporteur Martinez Cobo of Ecuador to
undertake a study on “The Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous
The report found that some governments denied indigenous peoples existed
within their borders. Other denied existence of any kind of
discriminationing contradiction to the reality encountered. It described
cases where the government authorities unwittingly betrayed their badly
The establishment of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in
1982 was a direct result of the Cobo Study. Consisting of five
independent experts, the Working Group meets annually in Geneva, and
until now, has been the only arena in the United Nations system in which
indigenous people could state their views.
The United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous
Peoples (1995-2004) has helped to focus efforts in the United Nations
system on two primary goals: The creation of a Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues, and the drafting of a Declaration on the Rights of
the Indigenous People.
ECOSOC and the United Nations Charter body to which the commission on
Human Rights reports took steps to establish the Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues, which will consist of eight governmental experts and
eight indigenous representatives.
peoples' rights in Bangladesh
The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh provides the
similar rights as fundamental rights stated in UN Universal Declaration
of Human Rights of all citizens in Bangladesh and article 28(4) of the
Constitution enables the state to enact special provisions for
advancement of any backward sections of citizens.
9August 1993, the Bangladeshi Indigenous peoples while celebrating the
International year of the World's Indigenous Peoples, demanded
constitutional recognition of their cultural integrity. The impact of
the international events was realised within this country in various
*The UN events led to the forging of greater unity among the country's
* It instilled a greater sense of pride in their indigenous identity.
*It led to the growing currency of the term “indigenous” and “adivasi”.
the indigenous peoples constitute a considerable part of the country's
population they are denied to play a role in state-formation and nation
building. They cannot exercise their rights in the case of land
alienation. Again they are suffering from the non-acknowledgment of
their right to self-determination and the district and regional councils
are indifferent in this respect.
can be done?
To protect the rights of the indigenous people and to resist the
discrimination against them, some recommendations must be adopted, such
Good governance plays a vital role in involving minorities in society
and protecting their rights and interests. Through recognition, dialogue
and participation, all the citizens of a diverse society can form a
greater understanding of one another's concerns.
Education and the media have important roles to play in this regard, as
do political representatives and community leaders.
Positive action by states can include legislative measures that
introduce higher maximum penalties for minority motivated crimes.
State authorities need to ensure that minorities enjoy the fundamental
right to equality both in written legislation and in society at large.
The roles of local government, civic organisations and non-governmental
organisations are important in this respect.
The government should take some effective initiatives to increase the
employment of persons of minority origins in fields where they are
under-represented, and establish human rights institutions.
Other recommendations include monitoring hate speech, promoting
empowerment through education, and ensuring adequate housing and access
to health care for the indigenous people.
author is in 4th year LL.B. (Hons), University of Dhaka.
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