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Dhaka Tribune

Do more than loosen the CHT ban

Update : 24 Mar 2015, 06:44 PM

We welcome reports that the government is planning to lift some of the restrictions it imposed in February, which prevent foreign tourists from visiting the Chittagong Hill Tracts without securing advance permission from the Home Ministry.

Although the government is still using security as a justification for retaining restrictions on long-term foreign researchers in the district, the state minister for the Home Affairs did tell reporters that there would be no restrictions on people visiting or meeting with any people from indigenous communities.

This is a small positive sign that the government is relaxing its disgraceful discriminatory decision to bar communications between local and foreign persons or organisations, and the indigenous population of the Chittagong Hill Tracts area.

It is clear to us that it should never have embarked on such discriminatory retrograde policies in the first place.

Such moves are wholly contrary to basic constitutional freedoms and instiutionalise communalism and racism. They impose separation barriers which can only serve to increase tensions in the CHT region.

At a time when it is urgent for the government to take meaningful steps to stop escalating communal tensions, these unwarranted and harmful restrictions have only distracted attention from the key underlying issues.

The government should lift the ban altogether and focus on fully implementing the CHT Peace Accord so that discrimination and land grabbing are ended in the region. Loosening the ban is only a small step forwards. It has to go further to properly ensure peace for all people in CHT.

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