Bangladesh's sovereignty may be hampered if the non-Bengali people of the country are recognised as 'indigenous' as the government will need to ensure their rights according to the International Labour Organisation convention, the leaders said.
The ILO Convention 169 entitles autonomy, priority rights on particular land, cross boundary interactions with the same community and free consent of the people on issues related to the livelihood of the people of the area to 'indigenous people.'
The leaders were speaking at a discussion on 'National and international conspiracy: perspective CHT' organised by Mukta Chinta at the Dhaka Reporter's Unity in the city.
Speaking on the occasion, the Bangladesh Kalyan Party chairman, Syed Mohammad Ibrahim, said that the constitution of Bangladesh had never ensured the rights of the non-Bengali peoples (national minorities) in a 'sufficient way.'
Ibrahim, a former brigade commander of the Bangladesh Army in Chittagong Hill Tracts, said that even the 15th amendment to the constitution imposes Bengali identity on non-Bengali people.
He brushed aside the allegation that unrest in CHT had begun after 'politically settlement' the Bengalis in the region.
National minority leaders have for long been saying that the Bengali settlers had grabbed their land which gradually led to the unrest in the CHT.
The Biplabi Workers Party general secretary, Saiful Haque, said that the unrest in CHT was a political issue and it could not be resolved by force or military intervention.
'Militarisation would only make the situation worse,' he added.
The problem began in 1972 when the non-Bengali people were denied their distinct identity in the constitution, he said.
Saiful also said that the CHT accord of 1997 'unfortunately' was yet to be implemented.
courtesy: New Age