Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous Conference
A daylong conference on Indigenous Peoples rights was organised by the European Commission, UNDP and
Below is an article published by Kapaeeng Watch:
On 19 February 2008 a daylong conference titled "Towards a Better Understanding of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" was organised by the European Commission, UNDP and Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum at Hotel Westin in
In the closing session, Advisor of present Caretaker Government on Primary and Mass Education, Women and Children Affairs and Cultural Affairs Ms Raseda K Chowdhury said that government have taken steps for protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
Indigenous women issue would be addressed in the national women policy which is being formulated by the government. She mentioned that ILO 107 Convention which was ratified by the Government of Bangladesh recognised rights to learn primary education in mother tongue. She assured that primary education in mother tongue for indigenous children would be introduced with the initiatives of all sections.
In his speech at the opening session, Chairman of the CHT Regional Council and President of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples' Forum Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma said that this conference would make a difference in the life of thousands of indigenous peoples and would help government, civil society and majority community to understand indigenous issues, their worldviews, development and rights. Mr. Larma also mentioned that indigenous peoples in the country are vulnerable and at risk facing many problems, as the constitution of
On the other, in his opening statement Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to
UN Resident Coordinator to
In the plenary session, keynote papers were presented by eminent lawyer Ms. Sara Hossain on the Indigenous Peoples' Rights; delegates of European Commission Mr. Charles White Ley and Mr. Fabrizio Senesi on the European Union and Indigenous Peoples' Rights; teacher of Dhaka University Prof. HKS Arefin and Dr. Sourov Sikdar on Indigenous Language and Cultural Situation of Bangladesh; General Secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum on Realizing Indigenous Rights in Bangladesh and eminent human rights activist and former Advisor of Caretaker Government Ms. Sultana Kamal on Human Rights Monitoring in Vulnerable Areas.
Former Member of Parliament Mr. Abdur Razzak, Mr. Promod Mankhin and Mr. G M Qader, Executive Director of Manuser Jonno Foundation (MJF) Ms. Shaheen Anam, Associate Professor of Dhaka University Mr. Mesbah Kamal, leaders from different indigenous peoples' organizations, representative from Oxfam-GB, Action Aid, BLAST etc. were present and taken part in plenary sessions. Speakers demanded constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples, recognition of their traditional land rights and full and proper implementation of CHT Accord.
Personal testimonies on identity, traditions and perceptions of development of Chakma, Garo, Khasi and Santal communities were also presented in closing session of the conference by Ms. Manila Chakma, Mr. Ajoy Mree, Ms. Flora Bablee Talang and Mr. Rabindranath Soren respectively.