Recognise hill people thru' constitution
Land disputes and other problems involving indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts cannot be resolved unless those people are given constitutional recognition, Rashed Khan Menon, chairman of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous affairs, said yesterday.
“The issue of constitutional recognition of indigenous people is very important, as it involves their other problems,” Menon told a discussion on amendment to the CHT Land Commission Act 2001 and solution to land disputes in the CHT at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Kapaeeng Foundation, Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens' Committee and Khagrachhari District Headmen Association organised the roundtable in association with ActionAid Bangladesh.
Menon, also member of the parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendment, said the committee has decided in principle to recommend giving constitutional recognition to indigenous people.
He said the government should go for amendment to the CHT Land Commission Act after discussing the matter with the regional council.
Menon, also president of the Workers' Party of Bangladesh, voiced concern over the activities of a few vested quarters that are trying to prolong the crises in the CHT.
Mangol Kumar Chakma, an adviser to the Kapaeeng Foundation, presented the keynote paper and said initiatives were taken to amend the CHT Land Commission Act after its enactment in 2001. But the Act is yet to be amended.
He said amendment to the act is essential for implementation of the CHT Peace Treaty.
Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said the chairman of the Land Commission must be removed to make the commission functional.
The commission chief does not understand the feelings of indigenous people, he said.
Khagrachhari District Headmen Association President Shaktipada Tripura presided over the discussion and ActionAid Country Director Farah Kabir moderated it.