Courtesy: The Daily Star, front page, Dhaka, Friday, October 1, 2010
Lack of commitment spoils CHT accord
Prothom Alo roundtable told
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord has not been implemented even 13 years after it was signed due mainly to lack of commitment in successive governments, indigenous leaders and civil society members said yesterday.
The hill people, both indigenous and Bangalee settlers, have now been split in many groups either supporting or opposing the accord, affecting the overall law and order, they added.
The speakers suggested forming multiethnic community police force for CHT and holding dialogues with different groups to bring peace in the hills.
Implementation of the accord has dropped down from the priority list of this government, barring any effective steps in this regard, they observed. They also pointed out that a section of military and civil bureaucrats did not want the government to implement the accord and thus created bars.
The speakers made the remarks at a roundtable on "Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord: Quick Implementation is Necessary" organised by the Prothom Alo at its office in the capital.
The then Awami League government in 1997 signed the accord with the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) ending a two-decade-long bush war.
PCJSS Organising Secretary Shaktipada Tripura said the previous AL government got three and a half years after signing the accord but did not take any effective measures to implement it.
"Before the ninth general elections Awami League pledged to implement the peace agreement but they have only reformed the Land Commission and removed some temporary army camps," said Shaktipada.
"In fact, implementation of the accord has been dropped from the priority list of the government."
Some activities of the government are rather contradictory to the peace accord like the "one-sided" decision of conducting cadastral survey in the region, he observed.
Sultana Kamal, former adviser to the caretaker government, said if there is any fault in the accord, it could be removed through holding talks with the stakeholders.
It will be good for all if the government starts to implement the accord as quickly as possible, Sultana said.
Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said the government is carrying out different projects in the hill areas without consulting the hill people.
"The government is implementing many projects in the CHT areas which would not bring any good for the hill people," Sanjib observed.
Former deputy minister of BNP government Mani Swapan Dewan said problems of CHT are problems of the entire nation. If the problems are not solved immediately, both the hill people and Bangla-speaking people will suffer, he added.
Prof Amena Mohsin of international relations department, Dhaka University, observed that there are some faults in the accord that should be amended.
In his speech Md Jahangir Alam, general secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Sama Odhikar Andolan denied the allegations that the Bangalees grabbed land of the indigenous people in CHT.
"We agree with most of the provisions of the accord except some contradictory ones. Those provisions should be amended if the government wants to implement it," Jahangir said.
Gautam Dewan, president of Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Committee, Shudhashindhu Khisha, co-chairman of Jana Sanghati Samity (MN Larma), Khagrachhari, Ilira Dewan, former general secretary of Hill Women's Federation, among others, spoke at the meeting moderated by Abdul Qaium, joint editor of Prothom Alo.