Mar 22, 2016

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Women of Ethnic Minorities Should Unite for Their Rights

Women from diverse ethnic minorities in Bangladesh gathered on the occasion of the third National Indigenous Women Conference, where they discussed the importance of uniting in the  struggle for their rights. Ms Chanchana Chakma, from the Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN), read out the Dhaka Declaration, a charter comprising demands to be addressed by the government, the UN and other organisations. In this context, the Jumma people demand  the implementation of the CHT peace accord and  three seats in the parliament for  women of their ethnic community.


Photo courtesy of The Daily Star.

Below is an article published by The Daily Star:


Organisations of ethnic minority women from both the hills and the plains should come together to fight for their rights, a national conference was told yesterday.

"Everyone must come under the flag of unity. Neither the indigenous people from hills nor those from the plains alone could establish their rights," said Prof Nirupa Dewan, member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

She observed that the minority women of the plain land were more deprived because, unlike those of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), they lived in scattered groups all over the country.

About 150 women's organisations from 17 ethnicities attended the two-day third National Indigenous Women Conference 2016 that concluded yesterday.

It was organised by Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN) and Kapaeeng Foundation with support from Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) at CBCB in the capital.

"Violence against indigenous women mainly occurs to evict them from their land and grab it," said Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, adding that minorities grew vulnerable and fearful when their women were attacked.

"If you want to remove discriminations, you must start it at your own homes," she said.

Rabindranath Soren, president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, chaired the concluding session, where Rita Chakma, vice-chairman of Rangamati Sadar upazila, and Mongol Kumar Chakma, adviser of Kapaeeng Foundation, also spoke. Chanchana Chakma, joint convener of BIWN, read out the "Dhaka Declaration", a charter of demands placed to the government, civil society, United Nations, NHRC, and ethnic organisations.

The demands include reserving six seats in parliament for women of ethnic minorities -- three from CHT and three from plain land, implementation of the CHT peace accord, a land commission for plain land ethnic communities, making amendments to laws for an effective land commission for CHT, creation of a cell by the UN to monitor the condition of minority women, and keeping an ethnic minority women's representative in NHRC.