UPDF asks govt not to play tricks with word ‘adivasi’
Calls on govt to ratify UN declaration on rights of indigenous peoplesStaff Correspondent
The United Peoples’ Democratic Front on Saturday asked the government to refrain from playing any political tricks with the term ‘adivasi’ and ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
The party’s general secretary Rabi Shankar Chakma in a statement said that an artificial and useless debate was started about the use of the term ‘adivasi’ (indigenous) aimed only at depriving national nationalities of their rights and creating a confusion about the struggle for their rights.
‘Whatever terms a nation uses to identify itself — tribal, adivasi, ethnic minority, small nation or nationality, ethnic group or janajati — they are still all indigenous peoples in the eyes of the United Nations. Therefore, it is useless to debate whether there are indigenous peoples in the country or whether people of ethnic nationalities are indigenous,’ he said.
The UPDF alleged that the non-Bengali ethnic peoples living in the country from time immemorial have been reduced to second class citizens with the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the constitution.
‘The government, first of all, must acknowledge that there are ethnic peoples other than the Bengalis and then give them the right to self-determination, the right to land and the right to practice, preserve and promote their own culture,’ he said.
In granting these rights, it is quite immaterial whether these ‘other peoples’ are indigenous, he said.
‘Although the Awami League talked much about “adivasi” before assuming office in 2009, it is now banishing the term from books and documents and installations much the way a magician vanishes his eggs as if the government could be able to wipe out the existence of these ethnic peoples and then rid itself of the responsibility for giving them their rights,’ he said.
Rabi Shankar urged the government to do away with all deceptions, double standards and trickery and establish their rights based on national equality.
He also called on the government to ratify the UN declaration, a move which he said would greatly enhance the image of Bangladesh in the committee of nations.
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