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BANGLADESH – Implications of unimplemented peace accord in Chittagong

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Militarisation and human
rights violations continue to plague the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), in southeastern
Bangladesh, despite the signing of the CHT Accord 12 years ago. 
(Bangkok, 14 October 2009) Militarisation and human
rights violations continue to plague the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), in southeastern
Bangladesh, despite the signing of the CHT Accord 12 years ago. 

The CHT Accord ended a two decade armed struggle to
regain control over ancestral land in 1997 and promised land rights to the
indigenous people, revival of their cultural identities, rehabilitation of
internally displaced and repatriated refugees, withdrawal of military from the
CHT, and self-government through regional and district councils.

However,  a
recent report from the CHT Commission showed that most of the provisions in the
CHT Accord remain either unimplemented or only partially implemented. The Commission
is an organisation of indigenous peoples' rights activists and lawyers who have
conducted research and written reports about CHT since 1990.

According to
the Commission, indigenous
peoples in the CHT continue to face human rights violations including
extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, torture, rape,
attacks, harassment, religious persecution, political harassment, and lack of
access to socio-economic rights as well as lack of freedom of _expression in
cultural activities. A vast majority of cases remain without proper investigation,
prosecution or punishment.

Loss of land of indigenous peoples due to evictions,
government settlement programmes of Bengalis from the plains, land grabbing and
so-called development projects are some of the major problems. Other land right
related problems include failure to record titles to land used by indigenous
peoples, implementation of the provisions of resettlement and rehabilitation of
repatriated indigenous refugees, and the cancellation of illegally occupied
lands and unnecessary land acquisitions, involving forcible evictions of indigenous

Access to justice for victims of violations is
hindered by discriminatory legislation, lack of funds and legal aid, as well as
lack of information. Poverty and the length of the process of getting to court
are other factors preventing indigenous peoples from pursuing the cases they
file all the way through the legal system.