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Monday, August 13, 2012

Police foils Indigenous Day programme in two districts;Indigenous Day observed with demand for constitutional recognition as 'indigenous peoples'

Indigenous Day observed with demand for constitutional recognition as 'indigenous peoples'
Police foils Indigenous Day programme in two districts

On 9 August 2012, Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh observed the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with the demand for constitutional recognition as 'indigenous peoples' and amid obstructions at a few places of the country and non-cooperation from the government. It is reported that the police foiled indigenous day programme in Joypurhat and Khagrachari districts. Police beat at least 9 persons in Joypuhat and among them, 2 injured persons got admitted at hospital in Joypurhat district.
It is mentionable that on 11 March 2012, the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry issued a official circular directing all district administrations not to cooperate and support to the celebrations of the indigenous day with a message to the effect that there were no ‘indigenous’ people in the country. Indigenous peoples and civic groups protested against this government letter and demanded to withdraw it immediately. More about the government's letter could be read here: http://chtnewsupdate.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/celebration-of-indigenous-day-in.html
In Joypurhat, the police obstructed indigenous peoples to organise discussion in Joypurhat district. Joypurhat branch of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (JAP) booked Joypurhat District Council auditorium to organise discussion marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. But police opposed indigenous peoples to organise the discussion while they gathered at the auditorium at around 10.30 am on 9 August. Police also obstructed indigenous peoples to bring out procession. At a stage, while indigenous peoples started procession amid police obstruction, the police jumped over procession and beat indigenous people with stick and rifle butt indiscriminately. In this attack, the following persons were injured-
(1)   Harendranath Sing, president of Adivasi Juba Parishad (Indigenous Youth Council);
(2)   Lal Mohan Ekya, member of Adivasi Chhatra Parishad (ACP) (Indigenous Student Council);
(3)   Kartik Kerketa, convenor of ACP in Joypurhat;
(4)   Dulal Mahato, member of ACP in Joypurhat;
(5)   Bibhuti Bhushan Mahato, central vice president of ACP;
(6)   Paplu Topya, member of ACP in Joypurhat;
(7)   Sunda Hembram, member of ACP in Joypurhat;
(8)   Paresh Pahan, member of ACP in Joypurhat;
(9)   Sourav Kumar Sing, member of ACP in Joypurhat.

Police attack in Joypurhat. Photo credit:  Bivuti Bhuson Mahato

Police attack in Joypurhat. Photo credit:  Bivuti Bhuson Mahato

Lal Mohan Ekya and Harendranath Sing were admitted at Joypurhat hospital. Harendranath Sing was released after first aid treatment while Lal Mohan Ekya is under going treatment at the hospital. Lal Mohan Ekya sustained critical injuries on his hand with rifle butt. Harendranath Sing was caught by police first and picked up at police jeep. However, after an hour, he was released.
Failing to organise programme in Joypurhat town, JAP organised protest meeting at Khanjanpur mission ground. Presided over by president of Joypurhat JAP advocate Babul Rabidas, the meeting was addressed by general secretary of Joypurhat JAP Kamal Minzi, Shyama Charan Sing, Nipun Kurmi, Rabin Sing, Basanti Murmu, Hari Pahan, Md. Nurul Nabi et al. Speakers protested against attack on them and obstruction in organising programme.
In Khagrachari, at around 10.00 am CHT Chapter of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) and Marma Oikya Parishad brought out rally from Khagrachari Women College towards Shapla Sattar in Khagrachari town. The police blocked the procession while it reached at Rajamoni Para area. Later they organised procession at old Ramgarh road near Rajyamoni Para in Khagrachari town. Sadhan Tripura, Prgyabir Chakma, Namita Chakma, Braja Kishore Roaza, Kongjuri Master and Chaithowai Marma spoke in this gathering.
On the other, procession of the Progressive Marma Students Society proceeding from Golabari towards Khagrachari Women College was also blocked by police. Protesting to the police obstruction, indigenous people formed human chain in front of main gate of Women College. Central convenor of the Progressive Marma Students Society Sathowai Marma, district convemor Aungshi Prue Marma, Ukya Ching Marma and Mong Sai Marma delivered speech in the human chain. They demanded to provide constitution recognition of indigenous peoples, to implement the CHT Accord fully and to withdraw provision by which indigenous peoples were mentioned as Bengali. They also protested against police obstruction.
It is also reported that police refused to allow indigenous people to join a programme in Mahalchari marking the International Day for the Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous activists put barricades on the Khagrachari-Mahalchari road after the police stopped their motorcade in the morning on 9 August.
Dhaka: Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) organised public gathering and cultural programme marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples at Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka. Presided over by president of BIPF Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, the programme was inaugurated by chairman of parliamentary standing committee on education ministry and convenor of parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples Rashed Khan Menon MP.
Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, in his speech, said the ruling quarters would not recognise the rights of the ‘indigenous’ peoples and urged indigenous peoples to prepare for a greater struggle to realise the demands. He added that nobody awards rights to anyone. It must be achieved through struggle and indigenous peoples must prepare for struggle, he said. He also said the government was not only depriving the indigenous peoples but also the working class of their rights. Without a progressive and democratic government, repression on indigenous peoples and the working class would not stop. He said the Awami League had accepted the ‘indigenous’ term in their election manifesto but forgot everything after assuming state power. He said the government seemed to be undecided about implementation of the CHT Accord of 1997.
The Workers’ Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon MP said a chance had arrived while bringing about the 15th amendment to the constitution to correct the mistakes of 1972 by recognising indigenous peoples in the constitution, but the government missed out on the opportunity.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president Hasanul Huq Inu MP demanded amendment to the articles 6 and 23(A) of the constitution for recognising all indigenous peoples. He also asked the Election Commission to register the political parties of indigenous peoples.
Speakers accused the government of breaching promise and vowed to continue their movement until their demand for constitutional recognition as ‘indigenous communities’ was accepted.
Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT): In Rangamati, CHT chapter of BIPF organised discussion and rally with demand for their constitutional recognition as 'indigenous peoples' at Rangamati Town Hall in Rangamati district. Renowned educationist Dr Manik Lal Dewan inaugurated the rally. Ushatan Talukdar, vice president of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS), attended as chief guest at the rally presided over by Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, president of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, CHT chapter.
The leaders of different indigenous communities urged the government to take steps for ensuring their political, economic and social rights of indigenous peoples. Criticising the foreign minister for her statement that there are no indigenous people in Bangladesh, the speakers said the indigenous peoples in Bangladesh fulfill all criteria, as per ILO convention, to be regarded as indigenous peoples. They criticised the present government for failure to fully implement CHT Accord and solution to land dispute in CHT region. Later a mammoth colourful procession joined by indigenous people from different far flung areas paraded main thoroughfares in the town.
In Bandarban, CHT chapter of BIPF organised discussion and rally at old Rajbari ground in Bardanban district. Head of Swadhin Bangla Beter Kamal Lohani was present as chief guest in this programme. The programme was presided over Chaw Hla Prue Chowdhury and addressed by K S Mong, Sadhuram Tripura, Zumlian Amali Bawm et al, among others.
In Chittagong: Chittagong chapter of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples organised public gathering and rally in Chittagong on the occasion of International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples.
The public gathering was started at 9.30 am with national anthem and colourful indigenous dances at DC Hills in Chittagong city. General Secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Bouddha Christian Oikya Parishad advocate Rana Dasgupta inaugurated the programme while prof. Hussain Kabir of Chittagong University was present as chief guest. Presided over by president of Chittagong chapter of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Mr. Sharat Jyoti Chakma, the public gathering was addressed by information and publicity secretary of PCJSS Mangal Kumar Chakma, Shah Alam of CPB, Abu Hanif of Workers’ Party, Anowarul Kabir of Gono Oikya Committee, women rights activist Beby Bhattacharya, human righst activist Baching Thowai Marma, general secretary of Rakhaing Buddhist Welfare Association Mong Hla Ching Rakhaing, Nizam Uddin et al.
North Bengal: Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (JAP) organised procession, rally and human chain in Rajshahi, Natore, Pabna, Noagaon, Joypurhat, Dinajpur and Thakurgaon, In Thakurgaon district unit of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad organised discussion programmes marking International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples with demand for their constitutional recognition as indigenous people at Thakurgaon Press Club auditorium in Thakurgaon district. District unit Pof Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Surjo Mormu presided over the meeting while advisor of district unit of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad advocate Imran Hossain Chowdhury attended there as chief guest. The speakers demanded establishing constitutional rights of indigenous people and formation of a separate land commission to protect land rights of the indigenous people living on plan lands. They urged the government to save the indigenous people from the land grabbers ! and withdraw all false cases against the indigenous people.
Coastal Region: In Patuakhali, Indigenous Rakhaine people and socio-cultural-human rights activists organised rally and discussion in Kalapara of Patuakhali. The community people and cultural and human rights activists joined the programmes. Language movement veteran Usuey Babu presided over a view exchange programme at Kalapara Press Club of Patuakhali which was addressed by Uchao Master, community leader, Myenthen Promila, executive member, Kapaeeng Foundation, and Nasiruddin Talukdar, Kalapara CPB president. Speakers at the programmes urged the government to establish a separate ministry to ensure the ownership and right to live on their ancestral land for the plain land indigenous people of the country.
In Barguna, Indigenous Rakhaine people organised rally and discussion in Taltali upazila of Barguna. Rakhain community leader Maung-Tahan presided over a discussion at Taltali Union Parishad office, which was, among others, addressed by community leaders Maung Thin Jo, Maung Chin Than, Advocate Maung Than, Chan Maung and Ma Chan Chin, Alamgir Mia, Borgi Union Parishad Chairman, and Mizanur Rahman and Sanjib Chandra Roy, officials of Caritas ICDP project. Speakers stressed immediate formation of separate proactive Land Reform Commission for the plain land indigenous peoples respecting their traditional land rights and by ensuring the indigenous people’s active participation and representation. In Cox’s Bazaar, Adivasi Chhatra Parishad and BIPF organised human chain in front of Cox’s Bazaar press club in Cox’s Bazaar district.
Greater Mymensingh: A colourful rally was brought out from Gymnasium near Circuit House ground in Mymensingh district. The rally was inaugurated by ex-government official Sudhash Jengcham. In Netrokona, a procession was organised by greater chapter of BIPF. Presided over by president of Greater Mymensingh chapter of BIPF Moti Lal Hajong, the event was addressed by indigenous researcher Rev. Manindranath Marak, Pintu Dio, Sanat Saha, Niresh Jambali, Nitai Saha, Bishakha Rangsha, Pankaj Marak, Swapan Hajong et al. In Sherpur, a discussion was organised by Tribal Welfare Association. Prof. Dr. Sudhamoy Das was present in the programme as chief guest. In Madhupur, public meeting was held at Adivasi Polli Jalchatra Footbal ground in Madhupur. Presided over by Jin Nokrek, the meeting was addressed by chairman of Madhupur upazila parishad Khandakar Abdul gafur Montu, vice chairman Dr. Mir Forhadul Alam Mo! ni, indigenous leader Jastina Nokrek, Sulekha Mrong et al, among others.
Satkhira: Sundarbon Adibasi Munda Sangastha (SAMS) organised discussion at Shyamnagar upazila auditorium under Shyamnagar in Satkhira district. UNO of Shyamnagar was present as a chief guest. Gopal Chandra Munda (President of SAMS) presided over the discussion while Mr. Shafiul Ajom Lenin (former chairman- 12 no Gabura Union), Mirza Aminur Islam (Social Welfare office- Shyamnagar), Abul Kalam Rafikuzzaman (Secondary School Officer, Shyamnaga), Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam (Health and Family Planning Officer- Shyamnagar) spoke at this event.
Greater Sylhet: Procession and Rally was organised in Sylhet town, Kulaura and Sreemongal.

source: Kapaeeng Foundation.

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