Workers Party of Bangladesh president and MP Rashed Khan Menon has expressed frustration over failure to fully implement the Chattogram Hill Tracts Peace Accord.
He pointed out prime minister Sheikh Hasina was awarded with the UNESCO Peace Prize for the Chattogram peace accord. But, there is no peace in the hill areas.
"Therefore, we should mount pressure on the government for the implementation of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Peace Accord. For that we have to launch a unified movement with participation of ethnic communities in the hill tracts and plain lands as well as the Bengali community," Rashed Khan Menon noted.
The Workers Party leader made this remark at a solidarity rally in front of the National Museum in the capital’s Shahbag area on Tuesday.
The ‘Parbatya Chattogram Chukti Bastabayan Andolon’, a newly-formed platform comprised of several organisations from the ethnic communities, political parties and rights organisations to create an integrated mass movement for the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, organised the rally.
A five-point demand was made from the rally. They are – creating a time-befitting action plan for rapid and proper implementation of the peace accord, permanent cessation of military authority and indirect military rule in the hill tracts, establishing representative democracy in regional councils and district councils of the three hill districts and properly empowering the councils following the accord to ensure regional rule.
Addressing the rally, Rashed Khan Menon further said, “Any hamper to the peace in hill tracts not only affects the peace of the country, but also creates security risks as the hill tracts cover some 10 per cent of the total landmass of Bangladesh. We have already observed the result of unrest in the hill tracts. The armed groups sprung up there have now joined the militant activities inside the country.”
Fazle Hossain Badsha, convener of the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Affairs and general secretary of Workers Party of Bangladesh, said, “This government signed the hill tracts accord some 25 years ago. Why didn’t they implement it? They should have implemented the accord.”
General secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Ruhin Hossain Prince said, “Those who signed the pact are still in power. However, there is no sign of implementing that any time soon.”
Former MP and vice-president of Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti, Ushatan Talukder said, “A suffocating environment is prevailing in the hill tracts as the Chattogram Hill Tracts Peace Accord has not been implemented yet.”
Demanding the implementation of the accord, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said “When the accord was signed, we thought the decision to be a result of political wisdom. However, we still need permission before going there even after 25 years of the signing. It proves that the main purpose of the accord has not been served.”
The event was presided over by Parbatya Chattogram Chukti Bastabayan Andolon joint coordinator Zakir Hossain. Khairul Islam Chowdhury, another joint coordinator of the platform, Socialist Party of Bangladesh assistant general secretary Rajequzzaman, United NAP general secretary Asadullah and Nari Pragati Sangha executive Rokeya Kabir were among others who addressed the rally.