Hill Voice, 01 August 2020, Dhaka: August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. As always, on the occasion of the Indigenous Day, many organizations in Bangladesh have started various programs at the national and local levels this year. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic worldwide, most of the programs will be online based discussion meetings and cultural events. However, limited gatherings, submission of memorandums and cultural events will also be held. Posters, souvenirs, supplementary page, leaflets, etc. will also be published.
It may be recalled that August 9 was declared as the International Day of the World’s indigenous Peoples by a resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1994.
The first meeting of the Working Committee on Indigenous Populations which was set up under the UN ‘Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities’ was held on 9 August 1982, the first formal meeting in the UN system on Indigenous Peoples. To commemorate that day, the United Nations declared August 9 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.
The United Nations has declared “COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples’ Resilience” as the theme of this year’s 2020 Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In line with the theme of the United Nations, the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum has declared “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Life and Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic” as its theme this year.
Regarding the theme, the United Nations has stated that the link between environmental damage and pandemics is well known to leading research organizations. But there is yet another group of experts, who have been worrying about the threat of a pandemic even before COVID-19: indigenous peoples. As we fight against the spread of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to safeguard indigenous peoples and their knowledge. Their territories are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and they can teach us much about how to rebalance our relationship with nature and reduce the risk of future pandemics. Indigenous peoples are seeking their own solutions to this pandemic. They are taking action and using traditional knowledge and practices such as voluntary isolation, and sealing off their territories, as well as preventive measures.
In marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, many organisations including Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF), Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (JAP) of North Bengal region, Johenshahi Adivasi Unnoyan Sanstha of greater Mymensingh region, Patro Sampraday Kollan Porishad (PASKOP) of greater Sylhet region, Sundarban Adivasi Munda Sanstha (SAMS) of Satkhira district, Cox’s Bazar branch of BIPF, Jono Udyog, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) and Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network (BIWN) etc. have undertaken various programs. The remarkable programs are as follows-
- On 5 August, Kapaeeng Foundation will organise an online discussion titled “Sharing the findings of Rapid Assessment Report: The Impact of COVID 19 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Bangladesh”.
- On 6 August, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum will organise an online press conference.
- On 7 August, Australia Adivasi Scholars Association of Bangladesh (AASAB) will organize an online discussion on “COVID 19 and Indigenous Peoples Resilience”.
- On 8 August, ALRD will organize an online discussion meeting in collaboration with the national daily Prothom Alo.
- On 9 August, the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum will host a day-long program. These include online discussions, goodwill messages from various dignitaries, cultural events, publication of posters, annual souvenir ‘Sanghati’ and ‘Supplementary Page’ (Kroropatra) in the national daily, etc. The online discussion of the Forum will be held at 5:00 pm.
- On 9 August, the Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (JAP) will organize discussion meetings and rallies in Rajshahi, Naogaon and Thakurgaon titled “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic”.
- On 9 August, Joyenshahi Adivasi Unnayan Sangstha will submit a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Tangail district on various demands including land rights of the indigenous peoples of Madhupur.
- On 9 August, the Patra Sampraday Kollyan Porishad (PASKOP) will hold a discussion meeting in Sylhet titled “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic”.
- On 9 August, the Sundarbans Adivasi Munda Sangstha (SAMS) will organize a discussion meeting in Shyamnagar Upazila of Satkhira district titled “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic” and submit a memorandum to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Shyamnagar Upazila.
- On 9 August, the Cox’s Bazar branch of the Bangladesh Indigenous People Forum will hold a discussion meeting in Cox’s Bazar district entitled “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic” and submit a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district demanding various rights for the indigenous peoples.
- On 10 August, Jhimit Jhimit group will perform recitation of indigenous poems and songs. Live from their page from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
- On 12 August from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Jono Udyog will organize an online discussion meeting from Dhaka titled “Indigenous Peoples’ Struggle for Livelihood in the Covid-19 Epidemic”.
- On 13 August, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) and Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network (BIWN) will jointly organize an online discussion on “Life and Livelihood of Indigenous Women in the Time of Corona Epidemic”.
- On 17 August, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) will hold an online discussion on “Women’s Reproductive Health” at its office.