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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Human chain formed across the country demanding constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples

Human chain formed across the country demanding constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples

On 19 March 2011 indigenous peoples of Bangladesh organised human chain across the country demanding constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples.
Human chains were formed at least 16 places through the country including Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban districts in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region; Joypurhat, Dinajpur, Naogaon, Sirajganj, Thakurgaon, Rajshahi and Bagura districts in North Bengal region; Barguna and Patualhali districts in coastal region; Sylhet, Moulabi Bazaar and Mymensingh districts and other parts of the country where indigenous people live.
The leaders of the country's indigenous communities called upon the government to seriously consider the issue of constitutional recognition as indigenous instead of small ethnic group; otherwise, the process of amendment of constitution will remain incomplete.
Bangladesh Adivasi Forum organised human chain in front of the National Museum in Dhaka where a number of organisations, including Kapaeeng Foundation, CHT Hill Students' Council (PCP), Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Sangram Parishad, Hill Women's Federation (HWF), Tripura Students Forum (TSF), Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon and national level rights organisations took part in the human chain.
On the others, CHT Citizens’ Committee and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (CHT Chapter) formed human chains in three hill districts of CHT where M N Larma Memorial Foundation, Jum Aesthetics Council, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Marma Oikya Parishad and local CBOs and development organisations took part.
Human chains in North Bengal region were formed basically by Jatiya Adivasi Parishad while Rakhain Samaj Kalyan Samity, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (local chapter) and Bangladesh Rakhain Students Association in coastal region.
Human chain was formed in Sylhet in the banner of all walk of indigenous peoples while at in front of Moulvibazar Press Club by Greater Sylhet Adivasi Forum, Tea Garden’s Adivasi Forum, Monipuri Social Welfare Association, Khasi Council and Khasi Student Union.
Thousands of indigenous peoples, political leaders, journalists, lawyers, university teachers, human rights defenders, indigenous rights activists, women rights activists had joined the human chains and rallies, raising their voices for the constitutional recognition of indigenous people of Bangladesh.
Expressing dissatisfaction at the recent speech of Co-chairman of Special Parliamentary Committee for Constitution Amendment (SPCCA) Suranjit Sengupta, MP, indigenous leaders accused him of not being aware about the proper definition of indigenous in the country's context. They said, the rights of the indigenous communities should be recognised incorporating their rights in the Constitution as indigenous peoples but not as small ethnic group.
Speakers at the human chain said ‘Adivashi’ word does not only mean who comes first in the land rather it means the communities who posses distinct identity from the mainstream. The ethnic communities hold different culture, history, heritages, land related culture and a tendency to solve their social and legal problems by their customary laws rather than the statutory laws.   
Speakers pointed out the existing laws including the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act 1950, The Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900, The Finance Act 1995 where the ‘Adivashi’ term had been used. The speakers also pointed out the election mandate of the present ruling party and the constitution of the Awami league where the ‘Adivashi’ term also has been used.    
The indigenous leaders demanded rights of the indigenous people with separate traditional socio-cultural-ethnic identity for their survival in different regions Bangladesh and full implementation of CHT Accord 1997.
It is mentionable that on 15 March 2011 after a meeting of the parliamentary special committee for constitutional amendment, its co-chairman Suranjit Sengupta said that the committee agreed to recognise the ethnic minority groups (Khudro Jonogosthi) in the constitution, although no minority community will be recognised as indigenous (Adibashi) people.
He said as the demand for recognising them as indigenous people could not be applicable in the context of Bangladesh, so it was more logical to recognise them as Bangladeshi, not indigenous. ‘The definition of indigenous people given by the ILO has no consistency with the situation in Bangladesh,’ said Suranjit, adding that it could be applicable for some countries like Australia where indigenous people were ousted from state power by others.
The indigenous leaders also condemned the comment of opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia in parliament on March 15 narrating indigenous leader Bangladesh Adibasi Forum president Sree Joytirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Santu Larma) as ‘terrorist’.
The indigenous leaders said that comment from a former prime minister and opposition leader was unexpected and unacceptable as communal and provocative and should be withdrawn.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com


Ethnic minorities call for recognition as ‘indigenous’


Staff correspondent
Rights organisations, socio-political parties, people of ethnic minority groups in human chains they formed across the country on Saturday demanded constitutional recognition of such ethnic groups as ‘indigenous people (adivasis).’

Speakers at the human chain at Shahbagh in the capital said the word ‘adivasi’ does not mean people who come first in a land and it rather means communities having distinct identity from the mainstream in culture, history, heritage, land ownership and customary, rather than statutory, laws for solution to social and legal problems within the communities.

Suranjit Sengupta, co-chair of the special parliamentary committee on constitution amendment,
earlier said that ethnic minority groups could be recognised s ‘small anthropological groups’ in the constitution.

The Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary, Sanjeeb Drong, said that ‘small anthropological groups’ is an imported idea and it does not mean anything as every individual belongs to an anthropological group.

He demanded that ethnic minority groups should be termed either by the phrase ‘indigenous people’ or by their specific ethnicity such as the Chakmas, the Marmas, the Garos and so on.

After a meeting of the special parliamentary committee, Suranjit on March 15 said that the definition of ‘indigenous people’ as used by the United Nations did not apply to the situation in Bangladesh.

The speakers at the human chain said that the existing laws such as the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act 1950, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900, the Finance Act 1995, the Small Anthropological Groups Act 2010, the ruling Awami League’s election manifesto for the 2008 general elections and the Awami League’s constitution use the term ‘adivasi.’

Cultural activist Mamunur Rashid, Nirmal Chatterji of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Saleh Ahmed of Sammilita Samajik Andolan, Sharif Jamil of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan, journalist Selim Samad and Dipayan Khisha of the Kapaeeng Foundation also spoke.

Reports from Barisal, Moulvibazar, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Sirajganj, Jaipurhat, Barguna and the Chittagong Hill Tracts reported that such ethnic minority groups and other socio-political organisations in the places also formed human chains to push for the demand.


courtesy: http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/national/12259.html


Human Chains, Rallies Across Country

'Say indigenous, not ethnic people in constitution'

Indigenous people form human chains in front of Khagrachhari Press Club, and Central Shaheed Minar in Sylhet city yesterday demanding their constitutional recognition as indigenous people, not 'ethnic groups'. Similar programmes were held in several other places of the country.Photo: STAR
Indigenous people across the country yesterday rejected a parliamentary committee's decision to give them constitutional recognition as 'ethnic groups' and urged the government to consider them as 'indigenous people'.

They organised human chains and rallies to press home their demand and submitted memoranda to the district administration of Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Barisal, Thakurgaon, Natore, Sylhet and Moulvibazar.

After a meeting of the parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendment on March 15, its co-chair Suranjit Sengupta told media that the committee would recommend constitutional recognition of the ethnic groups.

The indigenous people across the country yesterday urged the government to recognise them as 'indigenous people', not 'ethnic groups' or 'ethnic minorities'.

Our Rangamati correspondent reported that the indigenous people formed a human chain in front of the deputy commissioner's office in the town yesterday and later held a rally at the venue. Addressing the rally, the adivasi leaders urged the government to meet their demand. Otherwise, they threatened to launch a tougher agitation programme.

Chaired by Goutam Dewan, president of CHT Nagorik Committee, the rally was addressed, among other, by Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, president of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum CHT unit, Nirupa Dewan, member of National Human Right Commission, Shakti Pada Tripura, organising secretary of the central committee of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Prof Moungshanu Chowdhury and Anjulika Khisa.

CHT Nagorik Committee and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum CHT unit jointly
In Khagrachhari, Bangladesh Marma Unnayan Sangsad, Bangladesh Marma Students Forum, Bangladesh Tripura Kalyan Sangsad, Tripura Students Forum, Khagrachhari Zila Headman-Karbari Association and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum jointly organised a human chain in the district town to press for the same demand, according to a correspondent.

Our staff correspondent from Sylhet reports, Sylhet Bibhagiya Adivasi Janogosthi, a forum of indigenous people in the greater Sylhet, yesterday formed a human chain in front of the Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar, urging the government to recognise them as 'indigenous people' instead of 'ethnic groups. The forum also held a similar programme in Moulvibazar yesterday

Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Thakurgaon unit formed a human chain in the district town yesterday demanding their constitutional recognition as 'indigenous people' instead of 'ethnic groups', says our correspondent.

Rakhine community in Patuakhali and Borguna formed human chains, took out processions and held rallies at the district headquarters yesterday on the same demand, reports our Barisal correspondent.

courtesy: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=178418

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