World Indigenous Day observed by Rakhain community people
Anisur Rahman Swapan
World Indigenous Day observed on Saturday by the members of indigenous Rakhain people of Kalapara under Patuakhali and Taltali of Barguna districts in assistances with Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP) of Caritas with the theme “bridging the gap: implementing the rights of Indigenous peoples” .
Discussion meeting, procession and rallies held with different types of musical instruments, motifs of indigenous tradition and cultural function included in the programme.
The discussion at Latachapli union parishad of Kalapara was presided over by Uthansin, while the programme at Taltali at Rakhain Community Center was presided over by Mongtohan, senior community leaders.
The discussions were addressed among others by Maung Miya, Joydev Datta, members upazila Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, Tennat Rakhain, Dr. Mongma, Mongthinjo,Mongthin Chan, community leaders, Sanjib Chandra Roy, Mizanur Rahman Milion, officials ICDP (Rakhain) , Abu Syed Fakir, acting UP chairman, Siddikur Rahman Bishwas, Prof. Khan A Razzak, Advocate Mahmudur Rahman, Journalists M A Rabbi , Manirul Islam Abdul Mannan.
Miss Myentthein Promila, executive member Kapeng Foundation and activist of Rakhain Rights Association placed the eleven-point demands of her community in discussion at Kalapara and later memorandum on these points handed over to Taltali upazila administrations.
The demands included immediate end and recovery of Rakhain cremation grounds, worship-places, ponds and land properties, constitutional recognition, enacting indigenous community rights related laws, forming land commission for plain land indigenous people.
They also demanded expanding spaces for learning native language and employment, executing Proja Satta Ain of 1950, ILO convention with sections 107 and 169, taking consent and giving participatory scopes of Rakhain people before implementing any public and private development progamme in the area etc.
The Rakhin community speakers said they want constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples honouring all treaties, agreements, not as small ethnic tribes.
The indigenous community leaders alleged that human rights violation including land grabbing by land grabbers of mainstream population, communal attack on indigenous peoples, violence against indigenous women, religious persecution is unabatedly going on Adibhashi areas of coastal region.
They also stressed on immediate formation of separate pro-active Land Reform Commission for the plain land Adibashi (indigenous) respecting traditional land rights to mitigate their land dispossession and alienation to return dispossessed lands , improve life and livelihood, save habitats with own culture and traditions of indigenous people.
Indigenous peoples have a central interest in development and can act as powerful agents of progress. In order for them to contribute to our common future, we must secure their rights according to the principles of friendship, cooperation and peace, non-Rakhain speakers acknowledged.
It commemorated annually on 9 August in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982, recognising the right to self-determination and to freely pursue economic, social and cultural development of indigenous people.
Edited By: Amader Barisal Desk