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Cancellation of Hill District Council Act bills demanded, the laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall

Cancellation of CHT districts council bills demanded

November 23, 2014
Staff Correspondent

National minority leaders, politicians, academics and right activists on Saturday demanded cancellation of three bills tabled in parliament for increasing to 11 from the existing five the number of interim members of the three hill district councils in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Addressing a human chain in front of National Museum, they said that the bills incorporated government ‘ill intention’ of keeping the hill districts under control of selected people without direct votes of national minorities in the region.

Khagrachari unit of Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad, however, at a human chain in Khagrachari town, demanded inclusion of seven Bengali people and one vice-chairman in CHT district councils as per ratio of the inhabitants in the proposed bills.

Th state minister for CHT affairs, Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, on July 1 tabled the Rangamati Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Khagrachari Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Bandarban Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill 2014.

The bills proposed that the number of interim members of the hill district councils would be increased at 11 from the existing five including three non-tribal members.

The parliamentary standing committee on the CHT affairs ministry on November 17 recommended passage of the bills after scrutiny.

Although the laws stipulate that 34 members including the chairman of each of the hill district councils have to be elected, the government has so far taken no move for the elections, rather it is going to control the councils by increasing the number of selected interim members, the human chain in Dhaka was told.

The speakers said that the CHT affairs ministry did not discuss the matter with hill people including Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, Parbatya Chattagram Anchalik Parishad and the local lawmakers before placing the bills in the parliament.

Oikya NAP president Pankaj Bhattacharya said, ‘Elected members are needed for the proper functioning of the hill district councils…Mere increasing the number of interim members would neither ensure the accountability of the councils nor the councils would represent the hill people.’ He said the bills were a clear violation of the CHT Peace Accord.

‘The undemocratic forces would take a strong footing in the hills if the bills are passed,’ he said.

Parbatya Chattagram Anchalik Parishad member KS Mong said that the government was acting in a hostile attitude to hill people. ‘Government is forcing us to choose the way of blood-stained fighting,’ he said.

International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission member Khushi Kabir said that the government wanted to take over the hill districts under its control through the bills, ignoring the interests of the hill people.

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeev Drang said that the government was deceiving the hill people time and again but it was not implementing the CHT accord.

Journalist Abu Sayeed Khan, academics Mejbah Kamal, Rubaiyat Ferdous and Razib Mir, among others, also spoke.

Dhaka Tribune, 23 November 2014

Amendments to CHT district council laws opposed

Tribune Report

The laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall

Different organisations yesterday raised their voices against the three amendment bills produced in the parliament recently in connection to the district council governance of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

Under the banner of “Nagorik Samaj,” they formed a human chain in front of the National Museum in the capital demanding the immediate cancellation of the three proposed laws – Rangamati Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill, Khagrachhari Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill and Bandarban Parbatya Zilla Parishad (amendment) Bill.

They claimed that the proposed laws were a clear violation to the peace accord that was signed by Awami League and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti in 1997.

Oikko NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya said: “The government is violating the CHT Peace Treaty by proposing the three district council acts according to their whims.

It was clearly stated in the peace accord that the government must consult with the Ancholik Parishad [interim council] before amending any law in relation to them.”

The laws would threaten the democratic practices within the hill districts and the country overall, the speakers said.

They also demanded an immediate election to ensure local representatives in the CHT district council.

The original laws passed in 1989 had provisions for electing members of the district councils by direct popular votes.

Since then, only one election took place in 1989.

CHT commission member Khushi Kabir, Dhaka University History Prof Mesbah Kamal, Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjib Drong took part in the human chain.

Newsnextbd, Saturday, 22 November 2014

‘Withdraw CHT Zila Parishads Bill’

Saturday, 22 November 2014 23:40

Dhaka: Speakers at a human chain on Saturday alleged that the government has violated the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord through bringing three separate bills for three Zila Parishads of the region in Parliament.

RAM Muktadir Chwodhury, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs Ministry, on November 17 placed all the three reports on Rangamati Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014; Bandarban Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014; and, Khagrachhari Hill Tracts Zila Parisad (Amendment) Bill 2014.

Addressing a civic group organized human chain in front of National Museum in the city in protest of the government move, speakers also urged the government to withdraw the bill and give election for electing representatives of the three Zila Parishads.

It was among others addressed by United National Awami Party (UNAP) president Pankaj Bhattacharya, rights activist Khusi Kabir, Prof Mesbah Kamal and Sanjeeb Drong, journalist Abu Sayeed Khan and Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous.

Pankaj said that as per the Peace Accord government is bound to consult with Regional Council for making any law relating CHT.

“But, government has brought the bill in parliament without doing so. This is an anti-people move and government is doing this to rehabilitate their party men in the region,” he added.

He observed that the government move may obstruct the process of implementation of the Peace Accord and urged the government to withdraw the bill.

Abu Sayeed Khan demanded democratic elections for electing Zila Parishad representatives in lieu of partisan appointment to the body.

Khusi Kabir alleged that government brought the bill to violate the rights of indigenous people of CHT.

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