Jul 16, 2012

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Protection Of Land Essential For Cultural Rights

Kapaeeng Foundation pointed out at the 5th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that the protection of indigenous people’s land is crucial. 

Below is an article published by Kapaeeng Foundation:

A keystone of poor conditions for indigenous peoples in Bangladesh is the continuing depletion of their natural resources, mainly through the expropriation of their lands. The protection of indigenous peoples’ land and their resources is fundamentally important for the realization of indigenous peoples’ right to culture.

This opinion was raised by assistant secretary of Kapaeeng Foundation who attended the 5th session of the EMRIP held from 9 July to 13 July 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland.

She also said that in Bangladesh, the customary land right of the indigenous people is frequently violated. In the name of conservation of forest, the right of the indigenous peoples to extract resources from forest, in accordance with customary law, is restricted and limited. Indigenous Jumma peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are being restricted to continue Jum cultivation. Due to the non -implementation of that CHT Accord, dispute over land in the CHT is still unresolved and the Bengali settlements remain continued over the indigenous peoples land.

Ms. Lushai also added that both language and culture of indigenous peoples are interdependent pillars on which the identity of a people is maintained. In the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh passed in the parliament on 30 June 2011, the government ignored the demand of indigenous peoples for recognition of their fundamental rights including recognition as indigenous peoples. However, the government recognised the culture of indigenous peoples in the fifteenth amendment stating that “the State shall take steps to protect and develop the unique local culture and tradition of the tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities”. It is mentionable that the terminologies of “tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities” are not accepted by the indigenous peoples.

She requested the EMRIP to provide indigenous peoples with specific guidelines that would allow indigenous peoples to resolve these tensions that exist between development processes and the cultural and linguistic rights of indigenous peoples.

Fifth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples took place in Geneva at the United Nations Palais des Nations 0n 9-13 July 2012. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) was established by the Human Rights Council, the UN’s main human rights body, in 2007 under Resolution 6/36 as a subsidiary body of the Council.