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ACHR Press Release
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ACHR Index: PR/BAN/07/05/04
7 May 2004

Human Rights should be at the center of discussion during the Bangladesh Development Forum

In the run up to Bangladesh Development Forum which opens tomorrow in Dhaka, Asian Centre for Human Rights called upon the donors to focus on human rights and good governance in the deliberations.

“Since the organised attack on the Hindu minorities following the 1st October 2001 general elections, human rights situations have been continuously deteriorating in Bangladesh as exemplified by the organised attack on the indigenous Jumma peoples at Mahalchari on 26 August 2003, harassment and blacklisting of the NGOs, attack on the Ahmedias and mass arrest and detention of opposition political activists under section 54 of the Bangladesh Penal Code. Without addressing the issue of the rule of law and protection of rights of indigenous peoples and religious minorities and the right to freedom of association and assembly of the political activists and NGOs, broader plans for good governance and economic development will become increasingly irrelevant and the government increasingly intolerant”.

“The establishment of a National Human Rights Commission consistent with Paris Principles on National Human Rights Institutions could have addressed human rights issues. However, the government of Bangladesh has turned the process of establishing the NHRC into a gravy train since 1996. The Bangladesh Development Forum is hoodwinked every year about the establishment of a Commission.” stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

In particular, the Asian Centre for Human Rights urges the donor delegates to the Bangladesh Development Forum to:

-         Urge government of Bangladesh to establish accountability for the attacks on the Mahalchari and fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord in particular rehabilitation of the Jumma refugees and Jumma IDPs, return of the lands to te Jummas occupied by the army and the illegal settlers and stopping of free rations to the 140,000 illegal settlers;

-         Demand that the National Human Rights Commission is established before the next meeting of the Bangladesh Development Forum with representation of indigenous peoples and religious minorities and women consistent with the Paris Principles on National Human Rights Institutions;

-         Demand the release all political detainees arrested under Section 54 of the Bangladesh Penal Code;

-         Insist that all laws and regulations, which curb NGO freedoms, are abolished.


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