Rights groups including indigenous leaders urged the government of Bangladesh to sit in dialogue with the indigenous peoples to settle their core issues immediately. They also called upon the young people of indigenous peoples to strengthen their ongoing movement to realize their human rights. This call was made in a seminar titled ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights’ organised by Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum in collaboration with Action-Aid and International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 9 December 2012 at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on the eve of Human Rights Day. Presided over by president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Rabindranath Soren, the seminar was addressed by Chairman of National Human Rights Commission Prof. Dr. Mizanur Rahman as chief guest and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Education and convener of the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Issues Rashed Khan Menon MP as guest of honour. They addressed to the seminar over cell phone as they failed to attend physically due to opposition party’s strikes across country.
In his speech as chief guest, Prof. Dr. Mizanur Rahman, said that no country can move forward with flourishing democracy if any community is deprived of its human rights. It is the duty of the state to protect each community's ethnic, cultural and religious rights, he added. He also said that there are different people with their distinct religion, caste and culture in our country. This diversity is our assets. The indigenous peoples have the rights to self-determination. The present government promised to fulfill indigenous peoples’ rights in its election manifesto in 2008. It is the right time to use that name and establish the rights. The land right is one of basic rights of indigenous peoples. He wished long live the struggle of Indigenous Peoples for human rights. Rashed Khan Menon said that the state must remove worries of indigenous communities concerning implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. He also said the rights of indigenous peoples are the basic rights on the basis of human rights issue. They have rights to self-determination. If we want to reach our goal it is needed to bring them in reality. He urged all indigenous people to continue their movement to compel the state to ensure their rights.
President of Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon and professor of Dhaka University Mesbah Kamal said that the young people of indigenous peoples would have to come forward to lead their struggle to achieve their rights. A fruitful dialogue is needed with indigenous peoples to resolve their core issues, he added, pointing out that no dialogue has been held with indigenous peoples so far. Professor of Anthropology Department of Dhaka University Prof. H K S Arefin expressed hope that the new generation of the indigenous peoples would be able to form a new society to establish their rights. Organising secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti Shakti Pada Tripura, in his welcome speech, said that rights can only be achieved through a ceaseless movement. He also said the AL-led government, even after four years, has failed to fulfill its election pledges.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong presented a keynote paper at the seminar. In his paper, he demanded to form a National Adivasi Commission, similar to National Human Rights Commission, to monitor rights of the indigenous peoples. He also demanded enactment of Indigenous People Rights Act, formation of Land Commission for indigenous peoples of plain land and full implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. He also insisted on implementation of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and ILO Convention No. 107 and ratification of ILO Convention No. 169.
Besides, director of Action-Aid Asgar Ali Sabri and executive director of ALRD Shamsul Huda, among others, spoke at the seminar. The seminar was moderated by Robayet Ferdous, associate professor of Dhaka University. The seminar brought a total of 100 indigenous activists, youth, civil society and donors together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for realisation of indigenous peoples’ rights in Bangladesh.
Source: Kapaeeng Foundation