Rights abuses in hills alarming

Alleges Santu Larma; ‘violence against indigenous women rising’

The indigenous people are in a critical situation in terms of human rights abuses, Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity Chairman Santu Larma said yesterday.

Attacks on indigenous communities, grabbing of their lands, eviction, rape, killing, abduction and other forms of violence have increased in different parts of the country, he told a press conference.

Santu Larma, formally known as Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, said, “Especially, the violence against indigenous women has alarmingly increased.”

The Bangladesh Adivasi Forum held the press conference at a hotel in the capital on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples next week.

Although 21 years have passed since the signing of the CHT peace accord, its core clauses have not been implemented, he said.

“The CHT accord’s implementation process is almost stagnant while the hill peoples are living a miserable life of uncertainty and insecurity.”

Indigenous peoples of the plain live in even more miserable conditions, he said.

The government’s promises of a separate land commission for them has not been kept, he added.

“In the country, there are claims of development on one side and people wailing amid inequality, deprivation and lack of rights on the other.”

The UN has dedicated this year’s observance of the indigenous peoples’ day to indigenous languages.

Commenting on the theme, Santu Larma said the official data showed some 14 out of 41 indigenous languages were facing extinction in Bangladesh. But the actual number could be even higher.

He urged the government to establish a national academy to save the languages and demanded constitutional recognition of the indigenous communities.

The forum would observe the international day at the Central Shaheed Minar tomorrow to avoid the events being too close to the Eid holidays.