Govt trying to turn CHT into a Muslim region: Shantu
“The present government is pampering the ultra-nationalism and communalism instead of harbouring good culture,” he said.
He was addressing a seminar, titled ‘Importance of effective Land Commission in enforcing land and rights of the indigenous people’, at the city’s LGED Bhaban.
Chairman of National Human Rights Commission Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman attended the seminar as the chief guest while former caretaker government adviser Adv Sultana Kamal as special guest.
Addressing the seminar, Shantu Larma said a problem has been created recently over ‘Adivasi’, a word which has been dropped from the constitution. “Dropping the word, now the constitution says all citizens of Bangladesh will be recognised as Bangalees.”
“If Sheikh Hasina is called Chakma, will she accept the identity? There are 54 indigenous groups in the country and they must be recognised in the constitution,” Larma told the seminar.
About the Land Commission, Larma said, “Present Land Commissioner Justice Khademul Islam deems himself as a ‘great scholar’ and his actions manifest as if he is presiding over court sessions. Necessary laws for settling land disputes in the CHT should be formulated in consultation with the CHT regional and district councils.”
He demanded formation of a strong land commission for the CHT and another separate land commission for the country’s plain land indigenous people. “Land, forest and hill are the life for the indigenous people,” he said, adding that no people can live without land.
NHRC Chairman Mizanur Rahman said full implementation of the CHT peace treaty is a must at this present context to solve the problems in the hilly region. The indigenous people are the citizens of the country and they both in hilly and plain lands are gradually becoming marginalised, he said.
Dr Rahman has emphasised immediate resolution of land disputes of the indigenous people to put an end to all of their problems. “The organic tea we take is produced with the labour and blood of the indigenous people,” he said.
Information Commissioner Prof Dr Sadeka Halim, columnist Syed Abul Muksod and women leader Khushi Kabir spoke as panel discussants at the seminar.
Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong and Information and publicity secretary of CHT regional council Mongal Kumer Chakma presented two keynote papers at the seminar.
--------------- courtesy: Priyo ------------------------------
Bangladesh indigenous groups demand constitutional recognition
The ethnic leaders burst into protest, after the government recently said Bangladesh "does not have any indigenous people." Instead, government officials argued that the Bangla-speaking majoritarian, mostly Sunni Muslims are indigenous people.
The observance of the international day of Indigenous People on Tuesday turned into anger and frustration. Ethnic leaders were joined by scores of civil society and rights groups at a rally at the language martyrs square in the capital Dhaka. Despite rain, hundreds in distinctive traditional attires with musical instruments joined the rally.
The 300,000 indigenous people were compelled to adopt “Bangalee” national identity and dubbed as small national minorities, when amendments to the constitution was made last month, explained ethnic leader Barrister Devashis Roy.
Jotindra Bodipriyo Larma also spoke at the rally, after leading a 20 year bush-war against the authority for political and cultural autonomy. Guerillas under his command surrendered after signing a treaty in 1997.
Larma warned the government to rethink of their decision to delete their identity or else they will have to adopt a path of confrontation. The 70-year-old leader fears that the denial of the existence as ethnic minorities will eventually erupt into racial tension, as it happened in many countries.
After 14 years, Larma lamented that the peace accord has not been implemented, which would jeopardize the peace resolution.
Dr. Mizanur Rahman, chief of National Human Rights Commission at a seminar day before said it is a self contradiction of the ruling party. He argued that if the ethnic minorities are believed to have taken refuge for persecution and economic migrants, then the peace treaty signed with the indigenous armed militants who have pledged allegiance to the state constitution would be disillusioned.