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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Indigenous organisations call for to boycott UNDP-CHTDF’s cultural diversity festival

Indigenous organisations call for to boycott UNDP-CHTDF’s cultural diversity festival

Different organizations of indigenous student and citizen have decided to boycott the ‘cultural diversity festival-2011’ to be organized in Dhaka on 3-8 December. The festival will jointly be organized by United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTDF) and Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA). Many of local indigenous organizations have been organizing protest demonstration against the festival for last couple of days.
It is mentionable that as every year, the UNDP-CHTDF jointly with MoHTA is going to organise ‘Cultural Diversity Festival 2011’ from 3 December to 8 December 2011 in Dhaka. Though UNDP-CHTDF used the word “indigenous peoples” in the previous cultural diversity festivals in the last four years, this year UNDP-CHTDF has used the word ‘ethnic minorities’, ‘small ethnic group’ and ‘tribal’ in its several documents of Cultural Diversity Festival 2011 excluding the term ‘indigenous peoples’.
Indigenous students in Rangamati demand to stop the cultural diversity festival
On 29 November 2011 indigenous students brought out a procession in Rangamat protesting the initiative of the cultural diversity festival to be organised by UNDP-CHTDF and MoCHTA. They protested against the use of word “khudra Nrigoshthi” and “tribal” excluding “indigenous peoples”. Presided over by Ritesh Chakma, a student of Rangamati Government College, the protest meeting was addressed by Rono Chakma, Krishna Moy Tanchangya, Shulka Tripura, Uthan Marma and Abhilash Chakma. The speakers strongly demanded to stop the controversial festival.  
Adivasi students in Dhaka urge to boycott cultural diversity festival
The indigenous students studying in Dhaka strongly protested and demanded to stop cultural diversity festival on the indigenous peoples, being organised by the UNDP-CHTDF. They accused the UNDP-CHTDF of cultural aggression and wiping off the traditional culture of the indigenous peoples in the name of cultural diversity festival.
The indigenous students voiced their concern against the UNDP-CHTDF at a human chain formed by ‘Adivasi Chhatra Samaj’ (Indigenous Student Society) in front of the National Press club in Dhaka on 27 November 2011.
The cultural festival, which is going to be held from 3 to 8 December 2011, cannot promote the real culture of the indigenous peoples, rather it will ruin the real traditional culture of the indigenous communities, living in the CHT and the plains, Supen Chakma, a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology alleged.
If the UNDP-CHTDF continues with this pattern of cultural festival, the traditional culture would be lost in the near future, as this type of arrangement comes handy as a strong weapon to wipe off the ethnicity of the indigenous people, Subid Dofo, a student of Dhaka University (DU) said.
Indigenous students of Bandarban call for boycotting cultural diversity festival
The indigenous students from 11 different communities living in Bandarban have called for boycotting the upcoming cultural diversity festival to be organized jointly by UNDP-CHTDF and  MoCHTA in a protest demonstration organised on 25 November 2011 in Bandarban town.
On the day, the agitated students brought out a procession from old Rajbari ground under the banner of ‘conscious indigenous students’ society’ in the morning. After going round different streets of Bandarban town, the procession was closed up in front of Bandarban Press Club where an agitation meeting took place.
At the meeting, the speakers demanded to stop all types of conspiracy of UNDP and called for boycotting the cultural diversity festival of ‘small minorities’. The meeting was presided over by Mr Mong E Ching Marma, the President of Bangladesh Marma Students Council. Among others, Tanchangya Students’ Welfare Council president Ashish Tanchangya, Tripura Students Forum president Arun Tripura, Mro Students Organization president Yang Ann Mro, Khiyang Students Association president Hla Aung Prue Khiyang, Thoaikya Jai Chak, and Coordination Committee of Indigenous Socio-Cultural Organizations secretary general Jolly Maung Marma spoke in the meeting.
Nine student organisations submit memorandum
Nine adivasi student orgnisations namely Bangladesh Marma Studets' Council, Bangladesh Tanchangya Students’ Welfare Forum, Tripura Students’ Forum, Bangladesh, Bangladesh Bawm Students’ Association, Assam (Ahamiya) Students’ Forum, Mro Students’ Council, Khumi Students’ Council, Chak Students’ Council and Bangladesh Khyang Students’ Council also protested against use of terminology “khudra Nrigoshthi”. The adivasi student orgnisations sent a letter on 28 November 2011 to the State Minister of CHT Affairs Ministry demanding to replace the terms “khudra Nrigoshthi” with the terms “indigenous peoples”.
CHTCC send letter to UNDP-CHTDF protesting against use of “khudr nrigosthi”
On 27 November 2011, Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Committee (CHTCC) sent a letter to the Country Director of the UNDP, seeking to know UNDP’s position with regard to the use of “khudr nrigosthi” (small ethnic groups) in place of “indigenous peoples”, after observing a number of reports appeared in the media in connection with the Cultural Diversity Fair to be held in Dhaka from 3 December 2011.
CHTCC said that in spite of such an inspirational lead by UNDP to foster diversification of indigenous culture, CHTCC cannot but get concerned at linking UNDP with the use of “khudra nrigoshthi” to indicate the “indigenous peoples” of Bangladesh. CHTCC finds it difficult to accept it at least from an international organization like UNDP, which is one of many UN agencies and which cannot use terminologies other than the ones in use in the UN literature to refer to the indigenous peoples. “Khudra nrigoshthi” or “small race” is not in use in the UN instruments. CHTCC stands disparaged at being called “khudra nrigoshthi” - a terminology which itself is derogatory in content.
CHT-American Jumma Peoples Association
On 18 November 2011 CHT-American Jumma Peoples Association, an orgnisation based in USA sent a letter to UNDP-CHTDF protesting terming indigenous peoples as ‘ethnic minorities’, ‘small ethnic group’, and ‘tribal’ violating the UNDP’s policy of engagement with indigenous peoples. The Association said that the mal-purpose of terming them other than indigenous ieoples is to deprive them from the genuine rights and privileges of indigenous peoples.
The Association pointed out that the UNDP, as an UN Organization, could follow the principles of the United Nations to uphold, promote and encourage rights of the indigenous peoples of CHT and others parts of Bangladesh.

Indigenous youths in Khagrachari urge to boycott cultural diversity festival
Indigenous youths under the banner of Ganatantrik Juba Forum urged the mass people to boycott cultural diversity festival to be organised by UNDF-CHTDF and MoCHTA from 4 to 9 November 2011 in Dhaka.
Indigenous youths raised this voice in a procession brought in Khagrachari sadar and Panchari upazila in Khagrachari district on 27 November 2011. They also demanded to stop so-called small ethnic group cultural festival and to provide constitutional recognition of ethnic nationalities.

courtesy: Kapaeeng Foundation

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