Achik News Desk: From 9-13 July 2018, the Kapaeeng Foundation, represented in the 11th session of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), taking place atPalais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. During the week, Kapaeeng Foundation’s representative, Shohel Chandra HAJANG attended the sessions of EMRIP and numbers of side-events organized by different organizations from all around of the world. This was an opportunity to raise awareness of the country’s indigenous peoples and their struggles, in particular with regards to this year’s theme focusing on “Free, Prior and Informed Consent”which touches upon issues that are of great relevance for most of indigenous people’s experiences.
The Human Rights Council, the UN’s main human rights body, established the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in 2007 under resolution 6/36 as a subsidiary body of the Council. The Expert Mechanism holds an annual session, usually in July, in which representatives from states, indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples’ organisations, civil society, inter-governmental organisations and academia take part. From 9th to 13th July 2018, The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) had its 11th session and Kapaeeng Foundation (KF) was present and made a statement on agenda item 4 about the current Human Rights situation and FPIC status in Bangladesh. The representative of KF requested to the EMRIP to encourage the government of Bangladesh to end forced eviction of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands, to set up a separate Land Commission for the indigenous peoples in the plain lands of Bangladesh, to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord fully making the CHT Land commission full functional and endorse the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ratify the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 1989 (No. 169). Read the full statement, Attachedpaper 1.
Shohel Chandra Hajang delivered another a statement on behalf of the Bangladesh JatiyaHajongSangathon and Kapaeeng Foundation during the session of agenda item 7 on United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: good practices and lessons learned. He mentioned, after around 11 years of UNDRIP, the Declaration is reflected only in the thinking of indigenous peoples and civil societies in Bangladesh. The declaration has not reflected in the nation’s constitution and other policies of Bangladesh. Most of human rights violations upon indigenous peoples in Bangladesh take place centering the land. According to Kapaeeng Foundation, in 2017 around 20,000 acres of lands belonging to indigenous peoples were under the process of acquisition, mostly for the establishment of the national park, special economic zones, tourist spots, military camps and reserve forests. Despite issuing a number of formal pledges, the government is yet to take any measures to address the issue of land alienation of indigenous peoples, especially those indigenous peoples living in the plains land.
Indigenous women in Bangladesh live in a fearful and insecure situation. According to Kapaeeng Foundation’s report, more than 50 cases of violence against indigenous women with 58 victims in 2016 alone, 48 such cases with 57 victims in 2017 and there have been at least 24 indigenous women and girls were subjected to kill, rape, gang rape, attempt to rape, sexual harassment in Bangladesh from January to June 2018. Unfortunately, the Governmenthas not taken yet any special measure to ensure safety and security of the indigenous women and children against all forms of violence and discrimination. Moreover, there is a growing trend of cases of arbitrary arrest, detention and enforced disappearance in the country, particularly indigenous human rights defenders and political activists by the security forces. He urged EMRIP, Special Rapporteur, and international community, including States and the UN Agencies to take some initiatives to recover the aforesaid problems. Read the full statement, Attachedpaper 2.
On behalf of Kapaeeng Foundation, Shohel also attended as a Panelist at a side-event on “Elaborating Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in Sustainable Development: Discussing FPIC in Asia Beyond Development Aggression”. Organized by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and International Work Group for Indigenous Issues (IWGIA), the event discussed particularly highlighting FPIC in sustainable development that particularly pertains to the social development programmes of Asian country’s governments. It has been reviewed these government programmes and identified any FPIC process conducted. It also discussed to identify any good practices of FPIC within this context and put forward recommendations to improve social development programmes and ensure that these programmes will be effective for indigenous communities.