Why we want our voice to be heard?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Experts keen on 'indigenous people' The academics, however, claimed there are no small ethnic minorities in the country

Professor HKS Arefin of the Anthropology department of Dhaka University, told The Independent on Friday that indigenous people have unique vernaculars, knowledge systems and beliefs. He added that they possess invaluable knowledge for the sustainable management of natural resources.

"In anthropological view, the ethnic groups of our country are indigenous people. There is no contradiction about the fact and we need not debate about the issue," he added.

About their recognition, he said these ethnic groups are sons of the soil and they have the  right to be known as indigenous people.

Prof. Hasanuzzaman Chowdhury of the department of Sociology in Chittagong University said the debate on indigenous issue was motivated. He added that those involved in the debate have no clear idea about the term.

He said the 9th of August is globally observed as International Indigenous Day, which is recognised by the UN. As Bangladesh is a member of the UN, there is no scope to discard the term with political motives, he added.

State minister for Cultural affairs, Promode Mankin, said all UN member-states, including the Asian ones, have begun to recognise indigenous people in their constitutions, laws, policies and programmes.
These criteria are applicable to all the indigenous groups that have been identified by the parliamentary caucus on indigenous affairs, the state minister added.

He further mentioned that the term "indigenous" ("Adivasi") is mentioned several times in section 18 of the Awami League's election manifesto, referring to human rights discrimination, equal opportunities, among others.

“As I belong to a marginalised group, I want the groups to be known as indigenous people in the Constitution,” he added.

Earlier, special assistant to the former chief adviser to the caretaker government, Barrister Devasish Roy, said the term has frequently been used in the laws of the land, government documents and court verdicts. He noted that the East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act, 1950, used the word "aboriginal castes and tribes".


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