Bangladesh: Indigenous Peoples Demand Review Of 15th Amendment To Constitution


On 17 August 2011 in two separate demonstrations held in Rajshahi and Gazipur, leaders of indigenous peoples and rights activists of mainstream population demanded the government review the 15th amendment to the constitution, which did not recognise them as ‘indigenous peoples’.


In Gazipur, Celebration Committee of International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples organised a public gathering at Gazipur Club Conference Hall marking the International day of World Indigenous Peoples with Mr. Jagadish Chandra Barman in the chair. Chairman of Parliamentary standing committee on Land Ministry Mr. Muzammel Hoque MP was present as chief guest while presidium member of Gono Forum Mr Ponkoj Battacharya, Professor of Dhaka University Mr Mesba Kamal, Organising Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr Shakti Pada Tripura, president of Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee of Gazipur Prof. Ayesh Uddin, president of Gono Forum of Gazipur District Committee Habibur Rahman Habib, councilor of Gazipur municipality Jamal Udddin Sarker and president of Gazipur District Committee of Bangladesh Communist Party Joynal Khan, Prof. Nilofar Bano and Assistant Public Pros! ecutor of Gazipur Md. Istequebal Hosen were present there as special guest.


Mr. Muzammel Hoque MP said that present government is thinking to form a land commission for the plains indigenous peoples to establish their land rights as indigenous peoples need special arrangement. The indigenous peoples can not get back their lands through the general law and normal system of court, he added. He also opined that the CHT Accord should be implemented as early as possible as we singed the Accord. It is responsibility of our government to implement it. He would lobby to concerned authority for it.


Mr Ponkoj Battacharya said that present government busy to serve the vested groups instead of mass people interest. He said that the indigenous peoples who have contributed to the freedom movement are nor recognized as indigenous peoples in the recent constitution amendment. The CHT Accord remains unimplemented, he added. He said that General Ziaur Rahman and General Ershad had brought the army and settlers in CHT aiming at to turn the CHT into Muslim populated area.


Mr. Mesbah Kamal said state needs to honor the culture of indigenous peoples and their customs. They have own land management system based on community land ownership that mainstream population don’t have. The indigenous peoples think that the land is alike mother. That is why they offer worship to land. They never think land is wealth and it is things for sell. For that, they never fell to have a written title of land, it is their culture and everybody needs to honor this.


Mr. Shakti Pada Tripura said that indigenous Jumma peoples have been struggling for full implementation of CHT Accord.


Before starting the discussion meeting the indigenous peoples of Gazipur brought a procession through out streets of Gazipur town marking the International Day of World Indigenous Peoples. On the other, in Rajshahi, Jatiya Adibashi Pariashd (JAP) organised the daylong programme, marking Internatio-nal Indigenous Day-2011. A huge number of indigenous peoples from different upazilas (sub-districts) of Rajshahi gathered at Alupatty Crossing in the city and they brought out a procession, which, after parading major points of the city, ended in a gathering at the Public Library.


Speakers at the gather urged the government to ensure indigenous peoples’ right to land along with their political, economic and social rights. They also demanded formation of a separate commission for the plain land indigenous peoples.


President of Rajshahi district chapter of JAP Bimal Chandra Razoar was in the chair while President of JAP central committee Anil Marandy, Workers Party of Bangladesh city unit secretary Liakot Ali Liku, NAP Rajshahi district chapter secretary Mustafizur Rahman Khan, Communist Party of Bangladesh city unit president Abul Kalam Azad addressed the meeting among others.


Anil Marandy said the ruling Awami League in its election manifesto had pledged to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples to land, water bodies and forests repealing all discriminatory laws. But this has completely changed in 2011. Now the government says that there is no indigenous people in the country, he said.


Liakot Ali Liku said ‘indigenous’ people of Bangladesh met all the criteria set by the United Nations convention.


Abul Kalam Azad said the country’s overall development could not be achieved if the ethnic minority people were not included in the process.


Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

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