Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, also known as Santu Larma, today said that the human rights situation in the country has reached an alarming stage for the people of the indigenous communities.
Communal attacks on indigenous people, illegal grabbing of their lands and their eviction, rape of indigenous women, killing, abduction and other violent incidents have increased at the country’s different regions, he said at a press conference in Dhaka.
“Especially, violence against indigenous women has increased alarmingly in recent time,” he added.
Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Forum arranged the press conference at a city hotel prior to the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Santu Larma, also the president of the forum, said although 21 years have passed since the signing of the CHT Accord, its core clauses are yet to be implemented.
“CHT Accord’s implementation process is not only at a slow-pace, it largely remains stagnant and hill peoples are forced to live a miserable life amid uncertainty and insecurity,” he said, reading out a written statement.
Santu Larma demanded that the government announce a time-bound action plan or roadmap to properly implement the accord.
He said the situation of indigenous peoples of the plain regions is more miserable.
Although the government has promised time and again to form a separate land commission for them, it has not been implemented yet, said Santu Larma.
The government claims that the country has leapfrogged to a lower middle-income country but its reflection is absent in the lives of thousands of indigenous people living in remote areas, he said.
“In the country, at one end there is claim over bringing development while at other end there is outcry due to inequality, deprivation and absence of rights among people,” he added.
On “Indigenous Languages”, the theme of this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Santu Larma said official figure states that some 14 out of 41 indigenous languages are facing extinction in Bangladesh.
However, this number could be even higher, he added.
For safeguarding indigenous people’s languages, he stressed on government’s role like establishing a national-level academy to this end, saying “indigenous people’s languages have further enriched cultural diversity across the globe.”
He also demanded constitutional recognition of the country’s indigenous peoples.
Responding to a query, he said in the CHT Accord they had to use the word ‘tribal’ because the government was not prepared to accept their ethnic identity back then.
Marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, this year the forum will arrange discussions, rallies, seminars and cultural programmes throughout August in Dhaka.
Its main programme will be held at the Central Shaheed Minar premises in the capital tomorrow (August 5) instead of on the dedicated day of August 9, said the forum’s General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong.
The decision was taken thinking about countrymen’s preparation for the Eid-ul-Azha, he said.