Bangladesh – Speakers at a national consultation meeting yesterday demanded constitutional recognition of the indigenous people to establish their rights in the country.
They also called for the recognition of the traditional and common property law of the ethnic community.
Jatiya Adivasi Parishad and Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon in association with Gram Bikash Kendra (GBK), Dinajpur organised the meeting at the National Press Club in the city as a follow-up to Adivasi Convention held on November 4, 2006.
Presenting a keynote paper, General Secretary of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Rabindranath Saren said development of indigenous people was supposed to take place side by side the development of the mainstream community, but they are still being tortured and forced to leave the country.
Officials of the forest department are destroying forests in Barendra areas and on the other hand, they are evicting indigenous people from their lands charging them with destroying forests, he said.
So far, ethnic people have been evicted from 6,500 acres of land in the northern region of the country, he said.
He also demanded a separate ministry for indigenous people and reserved seats for them in parliament.
Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, said indigenous people are yet to be recognised by the state.
The major problem they are facing is that they do not enjoy the right to land, he said and called for immediate steps to protect their right to land.
Golam Mortuza, editor of Shaptahik 2000, called on the leaders of indigenous community to specify their demands and approach the political parties to help realise those.
Mahmudur Rahman Manna, organising secretary of Awami League, called for a tough movement to ensure the rights of indigenous people.
Hasanul Haq Inu, president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, called for incorporating their demands into the ongoing movement.
Prof Mesbah Kamal, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon, presided over the meeting while freedom fighter and sculptor Ferdousi Priyobhashini was present as the chief guest.
Cultural personality Mamunur Rashid, Prof HKS Arefin, president of Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon, Sanaullah Lavlu, chief news editor of Prothom Alo, Shuvrangsu Chakrabarti, central organiser of Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal and Enos Saren, president of GBK, also spoke.
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