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Ensure basic rights of ethnic people in CHT

Ensure basic rights of ethnic people in CHT
Speakers tell AL seminar
Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a seminar yesterday called for ensuring all basic rights of the ethnic people of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) through proper implementation of the historic CHT Peace Treaty signed in December 1997.They said the BNP-led coalition government in last four years did not take any move to implement the treaty signed during the Awami League rule.

The seminar titled ‘Complete implementation of the peace treaty in CHT: Our firm commitment’ was organised by main opposition Awami League as part of its series of seminars on the failure of four-party alliance government in different sectors at Chittagong Muslim Institute Hall. This was the party’s first seminar outside the capital.

The speakers said the alliance government was hindering the implementation of the CHT peace treaty.

They vowed to resist such move saying,”Full implementation of the treaty is one of the main demands of the 14-party alliance of progressive forces and time has now come to oust the BNP-Jamaat coalition government from power through united struggles.”

Awami League Presidium Member and former ambassador Ataur Rahman Khan Kaiser presided over the seminar while former diplomat Dr SA Samad presented a keynote paper.

Dr Samad said it was the obligation of BNP-Jamaat coalition to implement the peace treaty as they did not rescind the treaty.

“Before last general elections in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat termed the treaty as ‘black and unconstitutional’ and pledged in their manifesto to cancel the treaty if voted to power. But after coming to power they did not repeal the treaty to keep their election-pledge,” he added.

“Four years have already passed, but the coalition is yet to keep its commitment. This proves that the government has failed to establish any logic in favour of their claim that the treaty is unconstitutional or against the sovereignty of the country,” said Dr Samad.

“Moreover, MK Anwar, then industries and now agriculture minister, also spoke in favour of the treaty in parliament when a ruling party lawmaker demanded for its cancellation. The minister even termed the treaty as constitutional,” said the keynote paper.

Pointing to the BNP’s ‘contradictory’ policy, Dr Samad said the prime minister herself strongly opposed the treaty although she is now holding the portfolio of CHT affairs ministry, which was set up in conformity with the peace treaty.

Dr Samad said failing to fulfil their petty political interest, the BNP-Jamaat coalition has resorted to destroy the peaceful atmosphere of three CHT districts.

“They have made the situation worse by setting up check posts in the region,” he said, adding, “People of hill tracts are now living amid fear of insecurity.”

The speakers said the coalition government has not only stalled the implementation process of the treaty, but also created abnormal situation there by resorting to violence, terrorism, abduction, murder, looting and arson through their goons.

AL Presidium Member Mohiuddin Alamgir alleged that the government was torturing the CHT people by engaging security forces and the ruling party is now operating a ‘parallel government’ there.

“In Khagrachhari, security of the lives and properties of people are at stake in the face of repression and oppression by ‘Wadud Bahini’ led by a ruling party lawmaker,” he alleged.

Alamgir said those who speak against the peace treaty are enemies of the people and the country and it is time to resist such enemies.

AL Joint Secretary Obaibul Quader said BNP-Jamaat coalition has turned CHT into a volatile place and a monga-like situation is prevailing there.

Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, City unit AL President MA Mannan, Bir Bahadur MP, former lawmaker Dipankar Talukder, former ambassador SS Chakma, academicians Prof Anwarul Azim Arif, Prof Abu Yousuf and Prof Mohit Ul Alam also spoke at the seminar.

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