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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rights groups demand for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples and implementation of CHT Accord reasserted

Rights groups demand for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples and implementation of CHT Accord reasserted
On 16 July 2012 rights groups from a number of rights organisations staged a procession and protest song performances, pressing for their four-point demand for protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in the country. The demands include constitution recognition of indigenous peoples, implementation of the CHT Accord, formation of separate Land Commission for indigenous peoples of plain land and putting an end to the recent alarming repression on indigenous peoples.
Presided over by general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong, the procession held at Swoparjita Swadhinata on the Dhaka University campus was conducted by Robaet Ferdous, assistant profession of Dhaka University. Dilara Rekha of BNPS read out a declaration of the citizen groups while Dipayon Khisa delivered welcome address.
Workers Party of Bangladesh president and lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon urged the government to withdraw government circular against celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on due on August 9. He said that longstanding demand for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples was ignored in the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Rather, the government through this amendment has created new debate over the identity of indigenous peoples instead of solving their problem, he said. He reiterated that parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples would continue its programme for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples. The government broke its election commitment to the indigenous peoples, he alleged.
Gono Oikya Committee convener Pankaj Bhattacharya said that indigenous peoples are still being oppressed because they are not recognised in the constitution and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord is yet to be implemented. He urged all the progressive forces and indigenous communities to continue strengthening their movement to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, information and publicity secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati (PCJSS), urged the government to take visible measures for implementation of the CHT Accord and to form a separate land commission for the plain land indigenous peoples to return their dispossessed lands. He alleged that during the period of present government, repression on indigenous peoples including indigenous women and children has alarmingly increased.
Mesbah Kamal, profession of Dhaka University and general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon (Bangladesh Indigenous Rights Movement), alleged that though ruling Awami League claims being non-communal, but their attitude towards indigenous peoples is entirely communal. He urged indigenous peoples and those citizen groups supporting their cause should prepare themselves for launching a tough movement to push their demands home.
Workers Party of Bangladesh politburo member and lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha said contradictory provisions of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act should be amended and a separate Land Commission for plain land indigenous peoples should be formed to resist eviction of indigenous peoples from their ancestral land.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (Bangladesh Women Council) orgnising secretary Rakhi Purkayastha said that repression against indigenous women is alarmingly going on in CHT and plain land. She demanded to include a separate chapter in the national women development policy for indigenous women with an aim to empower them.
Communist Party of Bangladesh presidium member Haider Akbar Khan Rono pointed out that the nation needed an alternative left progressive movement to take the cause way forward.
Besides, BASAD central committee member Jahidul Haque Milu, president of Jana Udyog professor H K S Arefin, IED executive director Numan Ahmed Khan et al spoke in the programme.
Sammilito Samajik Andolon, Ain O Salish Kendra, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Oxfam Bangladesh, ActionAid, Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Sangram Parishad, Pahari Chhatra Parishad, Kapaeng Foundation, Nari Pokkho, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Brotee, ALRD, IED, Jana Udyog, BNPS, Ubinig, CCDB, Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon, Jatiya Adivasi Juba Parishad etc. expressed solidarity with the programme.
Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh

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