Saturday, August 8, 2009

International Indigenous day and Indigenous community of Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Today (9th August) is International Indigenous Day. Indigenous community has facing many problems in Bangladesh. Still the indigenous are not recognize by the constitution. Every day the indigenous are tortured by majority Muslims. They are grabbing the land of indigenous. Indigenous women and girl are rape by Muslim majority. On the other hand, also state tortures have for indigenous. Various indigenous tribes, including Hajong, Choch, Bonai, Tripura, Marma, Chakma, Garo, Santal, Urao, Munda, Khashia, Manipuri, Khoang, Lushai, Bom and Rajbongshi have in Bangladesh. At least 45 indigenous small groups have here. Here mentioned that, as per the UN statistics about 370 million indigenous people now live in 37 countries through over the world.
The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the indigenous groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Only for poverty and socio-economic condition, proper development, empowerment, economic freedom and human rights have not yet been ensured for indigenous. Though, some NGO have been cheating with indigenous peoples in the name of indigenous community development. Every year they (NGO) are getting huge Dollars or EURO from foreign country for the development of indigenous. But, maximum amount goes to the non democratic NGO high officials, alleged that.
Indigenous children’s have no rights for education. 1, 50,000 indigenous children’s have been not getting their educational rights in Bangladesh. Northern part of Bangladesh were started some private primary education center with indigenous own language from few years ago. But, without proper patronization these centers have been going with very bad conditions. Every year have attack to the poor indigenous in Rajshahi region with ‘Kalajor’ (one kinds of fever). At least 30 indigenous peoples were died by the ‘Kalajor’ in northern part of Bangladesh. The children’s of indigenous are facing for nutrition.
Day by day the indigenous are become landless. Now indigenous landless has increased from 20 percent to 95 percent. In Bangladesh has no accurate statistics about indigenous peoples. Only in northern part of Bangladesh have 15, 00000 (15 lac) indigenous peoples. But, as per government (in 1991) sources in Bangladesh have 3, 14300 indigenous peoples. In 16 district of northern part of Bangladesh have Santal, Orao, Munda, Mahato, Malo, Paharia, Malpaharia, Kol Kamar, Bhuimali, Mahali, Turi, Rajwar, Rajbongshi, Koch, Gorat, Bhuia, Chai, Baichani, Dohora, Patni, Hari, Ghatoal, Bagti, Dusat, Chral, Lohora, Bhumiz, Anguar Rajoer, Betia, Nuniapahari etc small cast indigenous.
In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Not only that, still the peoples has very fearing at Indigenous village under Mohadevpur police station in Naogaon district in Bangladesh. Alfred Soren was lived in here (Indigenous village or Sarderpara). Still the influentials have giving threat to the sister and brother of Soren.
Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Maymenshing at Madhupur in Tangail.
Cholesh Richil was a courageous Indigenous leader. But, he was brutally killed. He was the president of ‘Track driver Association’ of Telki unit in Tangail district in Bangladesh. In that time Bangladesh was under emergency. On 18th March, 2007 Richil was arrested by joined force led by Army from Madhupur, Tangail. After arresting he was tortured brutally and dead. On 20th March of 2001 another indigenous Geetida Rema was killed. But still hadn’t published her killing investigation report.
Indigenous community members Biher Nokrek, Nintonath Hadeema, Piren Sanal, Sentu Sanal, and Odhir were killed in Madhupur. A sensational kidnapped history of Kalpana Chakma is well known to the country men. Still haven’t completed the indigenous killings, raping, kidnapping and laned grabbing. No investigation of tea worker Obinash Mura murder in Moulovibazar.
Actually, the indigenous peoples have no human rights in Bangladesh. They are living without god health, education, food, clothes and housing. But, they are troubled by Muslim majority, sometimes influential political as well as state. An indigenous woman Andrina Murmu living at Joykrishnopur vollage at Godagari in Rajshahi told, indigenous Santal are very poor. For money problem indigenous peoples have no senatary latrin. Jamuna Rani (23) said, ws as an indigenous want to see Television and hear to Radio. But we have no opportinuty for Radio-TV. On the other hand, there are no indigenous dramas, cinema in Bangladeshi TV-Radio.
In 2006 as a journalist I was visited an indigenous village at Godagari in Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Joykrishnapur is a small village. Here 600 indigenous are living. 200 indigenous voters have here. Though, in this village was decliared by the local administration as a 100 percent sanitary latrin using village. But, here have only 5 senitary latrin using houses. For whole villagers have only one tubwell. No school or health center has in this village. Aged indigenous villagers Lalon Hemrom told that, once upon a time had many land of ours. But, now we have no land. I asked him, what happened? Then he told, our lands were grabbed by influentials. In this village have some government ponds. We were used these and we took fishes from the ponds. But, now administration is giving lease these to the rich Muslim peoples.
Agriculture worker Sajoni Baski (55) said, government has not to do anything for us. We don’t want anything from local Chairman and Member of Parliament (MP). Because, we were want from them many times. But they didn’t give us anything. They were gave us only hope. Another agriculture worker Sumitra Murmu (26) told, we are working equal both man and woman. But, we haven’t got equal wages.
Vimpur Sarderpara is an indigenous village of northern part of Bangladesh. Vimpur is under Naogaon district. Here were lived 19 indigenous families. On 18th August, 2000 a group of armed terrorists were attacked this village. They were killed indigenous leader Alfred Soren. Local political influential’s grabbed their (indigenous) lands and killed Alfred, burned their houses, ransacked and looted indigenous houses. In this attacked at least 25 indigenous man, woman and children were seriously injured. After that attacked five indigenous families were flown from Vimpur. Now, 14 families are living here. After this attack a case has been filed to the local Mohadevpur police station.
In Bangladesh common practice and culture is impunity. From long time have been going this. So, the killers of Vimpur also have getting impunity by the state. An indigenous woman from Vimpur Anjona Rani told that, ‘we are not getting justice. The world is of bribe. Nobody isn’t hear the words of poor. Alfred was a leader. Though hasn’t trial to his killers. If another indigenous would be killed then what happened? Still we are in threat. Every time, we have been getting threat from the known killers.’
At Vimpur total land is 275 Bigha (3 bigha=1 acars). Out of 275 bigha lands 120 bigha lands was positioned of indigenous. Rests of lands were positioned of landlords Schitesh, Hatem and Godai. After 18th August attacked the landlords were got all lands in their positioned. Now, only 14 bigha lands are positioned under indigenous peoples. The known killers are giving death threat to Rebeka Soren; she is the sisters of killed indigenous leader Alfred Soren.
Rang Lai Mro is the head of a community of Indigenous Mro people in the CHT, in the south-east of Bangladesh. He was arrested in February 2007, charged with possessing a pistol without a license. Four months later he was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment for the offence, though his lawyers informed the court that his pistol was licensed. After his arrest he was severely beaten by army officers in custody at the local army headquarters, Bandarban Cantonment. This torture has never been investigated.
In Bangladesh have many NGO working for the protecting the rights of Indigenous. In spite of indigenous community day by day have been going to more and more vulnerable condition. In Bangladesh have been increasing indigenous organization and leader like fog umbrella. But have not to change or any real development for indigenous community in Bangladesh. Actually, everywhere from top to bottom have no accountability, democracy, honesty, responsibility in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn't only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh.
Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina told that, the present government wants to work together with others for implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People. She recalled the contribution of the indigenous people in the country's struggle for independence. "It is our duty to ensure that the indigenous people can live with equal dignity like others upholding their identities," Hasina said. The government is pledge-bound to take special measures for the indigenous people, she said. Special programmes have been taken for their economic development, Hasina added. Besides, effective steps have been taken for implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Treaty signed during the tenure of the Awami League government in 1997, the premier said. (Source: the daily Star).
We have demand to the government; preserved constituencies for the indigenous people in national parliament have been demanded for the socio-economic development and for establishing basic rights of them. But, we don’t have thought that only enough over the demand fulfill by the government. If really we have wanted to see indigenous community’s actual development, economic and political as well as constitutional empowerment then should essential actual democracy, accountability. In spite of, at first Constitutional reorganization is very essential for indigenous. We do believe that, the Prime Minister told from her heart and her government will do these which she mentioned. 9.9.2009
Editor, the Human Rights Today

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla