DCs to launch no adivasi campaignMohiuddin Alamgir
The government recently issued a directive to all deputy commissioners to launch a campaign through electronic and print media that Bangladesh has no adivasi or indigenous peoples.
The Local Government and Rural Development Ministry issued the directive in a later of 11 March.
National minority leaders vehemently protested against the government decision and described the directive as a ‘racist and fanatic act.’
They also demanded immediate withdrawal of the letter.
Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum organizing secretary Shakti Pada Tripura said ‘it is nothing but a racist act of the government.’
He pointed out that the Constitution of the Republic ‘stipulates that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste etc.’
Shakti said the LGRD ministry issued the letter in gross violation of the constitutional stipulation on fundamental rights of the people.
‘The actions of the Awami League-led government are proving more fanatic than the communal and fundamentalist groups’ Shakti Pada Tripura said
Chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation and president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Rabindranath Soren also vehemently protested against the government decision and demanded immediate withdrawal of the LGRD ministry letter.
The LGRD ministry also directed the deputy commissioners to collect information and evidences to prove the point that this country has no indigenous populations.
The letter on the question of ‘celebration of indigenous peoples day,’ more precisely the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, was signed by LGRD ministry deputy secretary Md Sarwar Bari.
The deputy commissioner forwarded the letter to the Upazila executive officers and they in turn forwarded it to all lower administrative tiers in the country.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year ‘to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population’ since 1994.
‘It is desirable to avoid unnecessary jubilance in the name of celebration of indigenous peoples’ day in August, the month of national morning,’ the letter said.
The letter also states, ‘it is gathered that like previous years, tribal leaders would hold adivasi fairs, cultural shows, seminars, rallies and other programmes at different places of the country including at Shaheed Minar and Cox’s Bazaar to celebrate the coming Indigenous Peoples’ Day on August 9.’
It said that newspapers also bring out special supplements to mark the day.
The ministry stated in the letter, ‘In April 2010, Parliament passed the Ethnic Communities’ Cultural Institute Bill 2009 to protect the interests of tribal peoples terming them as ethnic groups and the recent constitutional amendment described them as small ethnic groups.’
‘On July 26, 2011, foreign minister Dipu Moni told representatives of development agencies operating in Chittagong Hill Tracts and foreign ambassadors in Dhaka that the tribal populations living in the CHT region were not indigenous peoples,’ said the letter.
The LGRD ministry, in the letter, directed all deputy commissioners to issue directives so that no important person of the government says anything in public that contradicts the government policy regarding celebration of the day.
It also asked the deputy commissioners to ensure that there was no patronization from the government in the indigenous peoples’ day celebrations.
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