Ethnic communities urge govt to observe World Indigenous Day 2012Staff Correspondent
Ethnic minority communities on Wednesday urged the government to observe the ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous People,’ demanding that they be constitutionally recognised as ‘indigenous people’ with further steps taken to ensure their rights, especially with regards to land.
The National Coalition of Indigenous People organised the human chain in front of the National Press Club in the capital.
Speakers criticised the government’s decision to restrict the celebration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in Bangladesh on August 9.
Leaders of different ethnic minority communities blamed the government for its failure to solve the ongoing land disputes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee executive president Shahriar Kabir said that many indigenous people died in frontline battles against Pakistani forces in 1971 but in return, the state is not allowing them to observe the day.
He alleged that the government has yet to take any effective measures to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, something which was pledged in its election manifesto.
Shahriar Kabir said that adivasis such as the Santals participated in the anti-colonial movements against the British, but are still fighting for constitutional recognition. Their languages are still neglected and they are projected negatively in the country which adds to their marginality.
Bangladesh Adivasi Adhikar Andalan general secretary Mesbah Kamal demanded constitutional recognition of identities, languages, cultures and land rights of indigenous people.
He also criticised the government’s decision of restricting the celebration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People and demanded a re-evaluation of the decision.
Bangladesh Jatiya Sramik Jote president Shirin Akhter, Gono Forum’s politburo member Pankaj Bhattacharjee, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong spoke at the human chain.
Speakers said that they will continue to observe International Day of the World’s Indigenous People at Central Shaheed Minar on August 9 at 10:00am.
On March 11 2012 the Local Government Rural Development ministry dispatched a letter to all administrative units and deputy commissioners across the country saying that no support from the government is granted to any programmes of the indigenous people’s day.
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