Bangladesh has recently been elected to serve on the new UN body called the Human Rights Council. The newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council (replacing the the UN Human Rights Commission) has already come under a lot of flak. Observers say that a name change is all that has happened and the new body will be as bureaucratic and as useless as the one it has replaced, and that countries with a long track record of human rights abuses such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China etc do not deserve to be on the agency but nevertheless have been elected to serve in it. (Israel and the USA - two countries with unparalleled experience of abusing human rights - have remained off the body feigning their usual sniffy contempt and disdain…so you can see there is a lot of aggro about the whole issue).

Bangladesh’s human rights record, as we all know, isn’t exactly rosy. If you need a reminder of the present situation go to the “Docs” section of this blog and download a report or two. Arguably one of the least talked about human rights abuse cases is what is going in the Chittagoing Hill Tracts. Last week a session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was held in New York. Ina Hume presented a collective statement on behalf of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Orgnaisations, Jumma Peoples Network International, Taungya, Tribal Welfare Assocication, and Adivasi Parishad on Human Rights in Bangladesh.

Some points raised by the statement:

  • quasi-martial law still operates in the area
  • people are living under the rule of the army
  • harassment and intimidation of indigenous people continues
  • there is disregard of legal processes by the army
  • sexual assault is commonplace
  • there are arbitrary arrests and detentions
  • Asian Development Bank social afforestation programs are leading to the displacement of indigenous people and relocation of the majority population on the lands