32nd Death Anniversary of MN Larma Observed

IMG_0030 (FILEminimizer)On 10 November 2015, the National Committee for Observation of M N Larma’s 32nd Death Anniversary has observed the 32nd death anniversary of the Jumma nationalist movement leader and also ex-lawmaker Manabendra Narayan Larma known as M N Larma at Swoparjita Swadhinata premises of Dhaka University in Dhaka. The program was combined with protest-song, paying homage to M N Larma and discussion highlighting the contributions of MN Larma as leader of mass people.

After the protest songs presented by the indigenous band group – Madol, the political leaders and different socio-cultural organizations, students from different institutions have paid homage to portrait of M N Larma followed by a discussion. The national committee convener Pankaj Bhattacharya has chaired the program.

The speakers from different political and socio-cultural organizations in the programme has demanded the full implementation of the CHT Accord and the constitutional recognition of the ethnic minority peoples as “Indigenous Peoples” for establishing their rights in the country. Addressing a memorial meeting, they said the dream of M N Larma was yet to be materialized even 44 years after the country’s independence due to the indifference of the successive governments towards the rights of indigenous peoples.

In the discussion Rashed Khan Menon, MP, Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister and president of the Workers Party; Professor Anwar Hossain, former Vice-Chancellor of Jahangirnagar University; Manjurul Ahsan Khan, Advisor of Bangladesh Communist Party; Syed Abul Maksud, journalist and columnist; Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain O Salish Kendra; Advocate Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council;  Shaktipada Tripura, organizing secretary of PCJSS and Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum et al spoke among others.

While Ruhin Hossain Prince, Santunu Majumdar, KS Mong, Numan Ahmed Khan, academics, politicians, political organizations and non-governmental organizations representatives were attended in the event. The whole program was moderated by Dipayan Khisa.

Rashed Khan Menon MP said that during his lifetime, M N Larma fought for establishing basic rights of the indigenous peoples living in the CHT. He also said it is unfortunate that the indigenous peoples have still not got their recognition constitutionally. “We have failed to resolve the problems related to Chittagong Hill Tracts for sticking to the wrong policies,” he said. He pointed fingers to a section of people who he says are standing in the way of resolving the Chittagong Hill Tract problems showing “a lame excuse of security issue.”

Menon said that CHT Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act cannot to be implemented because of obstacles from the bureaucracy. The minister said the amendment of the act was pending due to obstacles from bureaucrats, adding that the bureaucrats described the demands of the Adivasis as a conspiracy of the separatists. Menon alleged, “BNP founder Ziaur Rahman started Bangalinisation of the CHT, which has upset the population balance there.”  He also expressed concern over proselytising in CHT.

Eminent writer, researcher and columnist Abul Maksud urged the government to form a powerful committee to scrutinize why the CHT Accord has not been implemented yet. Reminiscing about M N Larma, he said, “M N Larma is one of them who firmly believed in the four principles of the constitution. He was pushed to unconstitutional movement from his democratic movements.” He has also urged to open a scholarship for students in Dhaka University in tribute to M N Larma.

Executive director of Ain O Salish Kendra Sultana Kamal demanded full implementation of the CHT Accord for showing tributes to M N Larma’s struggle for establishing the rights of indigenous peoples living in the CHT. And she also said “When people of the entire world remember Bangladesh for the Language Movement, there is no right of the indigenous peoples to their mother tongues here.”

Former vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University Anwar Hossain said the historic CHT Accord signed between the government and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti on December 2, 1997 was an outcome of MN Larma’s struggle.

Manzurul Ahsan Khan, adviser of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, said a Chakma community is not a Bengali community, but the governments in independent Bangladesh tried to impose the Bengali identity on the indigenous peoples.

Oikya NAP president and the National Committee for Observation of 32nd MN Larma’s Death Anniversary convener Pankaj Bhattacharya, presiding over the meeting, strongly protested at the government’s circular imposing restriction on holding meeting and rallies using the word ‘indigenous’.

Finally, on behalf of the National Committee Professor Rubayet Ferdous of Dhaka University read out a declaration highlighting the following demand.