Indigenous peoples’ human rights situation is not good in the country: Santu Larma

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Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Santu Larma) in the picture

Hill Voice, 9 August 2021, Special Correspondent: On the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, President of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Santu Larma) said that the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in the country is not good. Communal attack on indigenous peoples, land grabbing and eviction, torture and violence against indigenous women have increased in different parts of the country. He further said that at present the government has stopped the process and initiatives of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord of 1997.

He expressed this opinion in a goodwill speech sent to the people of the country on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2021. His goodwill messageis given below-

Goodwill message from Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President of BIPF, on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

9 August 2021

Afterrounding the year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples declared by the United Nations has come among us again. On this great day, on behalf of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, I would like to extend my sincere greetings and congratulations to the more than 400 million indigenous peoples in 90 countries including Bangladesh and all freedom-loving people. This day is a day to awaken and unite in the struggle for the rights of the indigenous peoples. This day is a day of special inspiration.

This year too, the indigenous peoples of the country are celebrating Indigenous Day differently due to the COVID-19 pandamic. This time, the theme of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations is “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.”

We all know that during this Corona period, indigenous peoples and other marginalized people are living in indescribable misery and uncertainty. These marginalized people are being forced to live miserable condition in various economic crises due to lockdown including lack of proper treatment. The government is trying to stand by the people through various programs, but due to rampant corruption, mismanagement, partisanship and irresponsibility, marginalized people are not getting the expected benefits. I call on the government to provide special financial incentives for the indigenous peoples affected by the Corona pandamic.

It is very sad, the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples in the country is still not good. In different parts of the country, communal attacks on indigenous peoples, land grabbing and eviction, torture and violence against indigenous women have increased with the nefarious intention of forcibly occupying their lands and evicting them from their traditional lands. At present, the government is stalling the process and initiatives for the implementation of the CHT Accord. Needless to say, the fundamental provisions of the Accord have not been implemented in the last 23 years. Despite repeated demands, no effective roadmap with timeframe has been announced for the proper and speedy implementation of the Accord. On the other hand, the de facto military rule called ‘Operation Uttoron’ was not withdrawn from the CHT. Despite promising for the indigenous peoples in the plains, the government did not form a separate land commission. Today, on Indigenous Day, I call on the government to fulfill these promises.

Bangladesh is a diverse country of multi nations, multi languages, multi cultures. In addition to the larger Bengali population, more than 3 million indigenous peoples have been living in this country since time immemorial. Their livelihood, traditions, culture, history and aspirations are deeply intertwined with Bangladesh. Indigenous peoples have played a glorious role in all democratic movements of the country including the liberation war of 1971. But it is a matter of concern that their environment-friendly culture and way of life is being endangered today due to the aggression of the larger population and the strong flow of globalization.

Today, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I would like to reiterate the motto of the United Nations: “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.” We call upon all concerned, including the government, to come forward to establish the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the indigenous peoples, including the rights to self-determination. Besides, on the occasion of International Dayof the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we appeal to the progressive, democratic and non-communal forces of the country to stand by the side of the indigenous peoples.

Finally, I wish that the struggle for the liberation of exploited, oppressed and deprived peoples including all the subjugated people of the country, will move forward.

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum

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