News No. 76/2012, Thursday, September 06, 2012
THE International Council for the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT) has expressed concern at the recent developments in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
In a letter to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, dated 7 August, the ICIP-CHT president Dr Aditya Kumar Dewan said his organization, also known as International Jumma Organization (IJO), was concerned at some of the developments in the CHT.
Referring to the deportation of Mr Tom Eskildsen, Co-President of Jumma Net, Japan, and an adviser to the CHT Commission, from Hazrat Shajalal International airport on 23 July 2012, Mr Dewan said, ‘He holds a valid visa, yet no reason was cited and no allegation was brought against him. Tom Eskildsen has been visiting Bangladesh for last 25 years.’
He has also sought to draw the attention of the PM to ‘the government’s restriction on the entry of foreigners into the CHT and obligation on their part to have a representative of the district administration present while talking to an indigenous person.’
Mr Dewan said: ‘We finally draw your attention to the recent government instruction directing the district level administration not to extend support in celebrating the ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’, an event which has been held since 1994 in Bangladesh.’
He cited a Daily Star editorial to refute the government claim that there are no indigenous peoples in Bangladesh: "Nothing could be further from the truth when government officials declare nationally and internationally that there are no indigenous people in Bangladesh and this is not the sort of message we should be sending out to the international community (The Daily Star editorial, 3 August 2012)."
He said: ‘By indulging in such acts, the government is giving a wrong message to the outside world. This helps to substantiate the speculation inside and outside the country that [the] government is trying to hide the mischief it is committing in the CHT.’
The ICIP-CHT president hoped that the PM will ‘look into our concerns with utmost care and importance and will act to redress these issues raised to uphold Bangladesh’s image as a democratic government practicing pluralism and inclusion, and thereby efforts be made to establish peace and prosperity in the CHT and Bangladesh.’
The ICIP-CHT is an organization of the Jumma diaspora, and was formally established at a convention held in Chiangmai, Thailand on 21 – 22 July this year.