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ACHR Press Release
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ACHR Index: PR/BAN/01/09/03
30 September 2003

Bangladesh accused of racial discrimination before UN body

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its submission "Starvation, Rape and Killing of Indigenous Jumma Children" today before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child accused the government of Bangladesh of racial discrimination and providing impunity for human rights violation against indigenous peoples. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is examining the second periodic report of the government of Bangladesh.

ACHR stated that in late July 2003, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) of the government of Bangladesh directed the Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry to suspend rice rations to 65,000 indigenous Jumma refugees but to continue to give the free supply of rice rations to 26,000 illegalplain settlers' families in different cluster villages in the CHTs. The order of the Prime Minister's Office has direct implications on the right to education, health care and survival of the indigenous Jumma children. It is racist and violate the constitutional obligations and its responsibily as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and International Covention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights further alleged that inan organised attack on 26 August 2003,Bangladesh army and illegal plain settlers burnt down 10 indigenous Jumma villages under Mahalchari Upazilla (sub-district) of the CHTs. Nine month old baby, Kiriton Chakma was snatched from grand mother, strangulated to death in front of his grand mother, who was then raped by Bangladesh army personnel. About 10 Jumma women out of whom four were girls were raped by the illegal plain settlers and security forces during the attack. In addition, four Buddhist temples have been destroyed.

There is "no sign of relief, rehabilitation or reconstruction work" in the effected areas. Witnesses who made statements to human rights groups and pressmen from Dhaka are now reportedly being interrogated and harassed by the authorities. Hundreds of military personnel have cordoned off entire Mahalchari area and restricted entry of outsiders.

Asian Centre for Human Rights requested the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to express concern about the continuing human rights violations against indigenous Jumma peoples and urge the government of Bangladesh to establish a National Human Rights Commission; to take full measures for implementation of the CHTs Accord of 1997, to order a judicial inquiry into the Mahalchari incidents by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, to bring an end to discriminatory policies and practices such as providing free rations only to the settlers, to honour the agreements signed between the government of Bangladesh and the Jumma Refugees Welfare Association, to withdraw the armed forces from the Chittagong Hill Tracts as agreed under the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord and deploy civil police to deal with law and order situation. [END]


For more information please call Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights in New Delhi, India at +91-11-25503624 or 25620583

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