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‘Violation’ of indigenous people’s rights worries CHT Commission

WT24 Desk
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission has voiced concern at the continued violation of rights of indigenous people and lack of political will to ensure their rights as Bangladesh citizens.
In a statement on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2015 the CHTC says it stands with indigenous people living in Bangladesh.
In 2011, the statement says, the parliament passed the 15th amendment to the constitution denying indigenous people’s recognition as full citizens of this country. Article 6(2) of the Constitution states: ‘The people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis,’ it said, reports United News of Bangladesh.
It also said, ‘Besides, Article 23A states: The culture of tribes, small ethnic groups, ethnic sects and communities–The state shall take steps to protect and develop the unique local culture and tradition of the tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities ’.
The CHTC said Article 6(2) directly denies the indigenous peoples as citizens of the country, while Article 23A categorizes and alienates indigenous people from Bengalis and makes them second-class citizens of the country.
Besides, the government has categorically denied the existence of indigenous people in the country, although the term had been used previously by the same government and also mentioned in various national laws, said the statement signed by its co-chairs Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Elsa Stamatopoulou.
It says the government has also failed to fully implement the 1997 CHT ‘Peace’ Accord and keep the pledge made in its 2009 election manifesto.
The CHTC recommended amending Articles 6(2) and 23A of the Constitution to give constitutional recognition to indigenous people and taking steps to fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord.

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