Jun 07, 2011

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Human Chain Protesting Against Government Statement On Indigenous Issues During UNPFII Meeting Organised In Dhaka

After the Bangladesh government having stated the non-existence of indigenous people, protestors form a human chain to bring recognition to indigenous peoples in the constitution.

Below is an article published by the Kapaeeng Foundation:

On 3 June 2011 Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF) and Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon (BAOA) organised human chain in front of National Museum at Shahbag in Dhaka protesting against Government statement on indigenous issues during the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Hundreds of activists both from indigenous peoples and mainstream population attended the human chain.

Speakers of the event said that the Government of Bangladesh dishonoured a total 3 millions of indigenous peoples due to its representative, first secretary of the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to United Nations in New York, Iqbal Ahmed quote "Bangladesh does not have any 'indigenous' population".

Iqbal Ahmed quoted it while objecting to the ‘Study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord of 1997’, during the 10th session of the UNPFII in the UN headquarters in New York on 25 May 2011.

Presidium member of Gono Forum, Pankaj Battachariya said, “the indigenous people will not be recognised in the constitution until eliminating pro-Pakistan ideology from the Bangladeshis”. He alleged the government first secretary of the Bangladesh Mission to United Nations ruined the image of the Bangladesh due to denying the existence of indigenous population in the country. It is not expected from a representative of the present government as the alliance government mentions the indigenous people in their electoral manifesto.

Prof Mesbah Kamal said, the persons who do not believe in spirit of liberation war, equal rights and democracy never recognise the existence of indigenous people and diversity.

General Secretary of BAF Sanjeeb Drong said the indigenous peoples have been recognized in several laws of Bangladesh, but they have not yet been recognised in the constitution. He strongly protests the quote of Iqbal Ahmed and alleged that a vested quarter of the government does not want to recognise them as indigenous peoples. He demanded the constitutional rights as 'indigenous people'. He expressed hope that, the government will feel the heart beat of 3 million people of more than 46 indigenous peoples.

Prof. Dr A H K Arefin said, the no people can set the identity of others. "If it is done, then the human rights will be violated," he noted. There is an opportunity to recognise the indigenous peoples after 40 long years, the chairman of BAOA further observed. He hopes that the government would recognise the indigenous people in the constitution.

Among others journalist Salim Samad, Nirmal Rozario, Sharif Jamil of BAPA and Dipayon of Kapeeng Foundation addressed the human chain while Hiron Mitra Chakma conducted the event.