Int'l day of indigenous people today
The International Day of the World's Indigenous People will be observed today in the country and around the globe at a time when the very identity of the adivasi people has become a subject of debate in Bangladesh.
The government spokespersons in the country have denied the existence of indigenous people in Bangladesh. They suggested that the constitution would recognise them as "ethnic minorities" instead of indigenous people.
They claim neither the constitution nor any international laws recognise these people as indigenous. These people did not reside or exist in the country before the 16th century and were not considered "indigenous people'' in any historical reference books, memoirs or legal documents, they argue.
However, leaders of the non-Bangalee indigenous communities have claimed they have been living in Bangladesh since the time immemorial with their own distinctiveness, languages, cultures, and identities.
They say the communities fulfil all the UN criteria required to be recognised as "indigenous".
Quoting the ILO Convention (169), article 1 that says, "Self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention apply", they have continued to reiterate their demands to be recognised as indigenous or adivasi.
Amid this debate, countries across the globe will observe the International Day of the World's Indigenous People with the theme: "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future".
The Day was first proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1994 to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995-2004).
In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade, from 2005-2015 with the theme of "A Decade for Action and Dignity".