Public hearing on indigenous peoples human rights held in Dhaka

On 2 November 2013, a public hearing entitled “Public Hearing on Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples” was organized by the Institute of Environment and Development (IED), Kapaeeng Foundation, Jono Udyog and Sampriti Mancha at the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) Centre in Dhaka. State Minister for the Ministry of Social Welfare Advocate Promod Mankin was present as the chief guest while the chairperson of National Human Rights Commission Dr. Mizanur Rahman and Commissioner of National Information Commission Dr. Sadeka Halim were present as observers during the hearing. The programme was presided over by Numan Ahmed Khan, the executive director of IED.

During the hearing six indigenous victims belonging to Chak, Marma, Oraon and Santal communities narrated the human rights violations they had been enduring. They noted that they had suffered from killing, illegal land grabbing, forced eviction and imprisonment through fabricated police cases maneuvered by government officials, police, business people, local political leaders and other influential people. All the cases of human rights violations were related to land.

While addressing the issues of human rights violation facing indigenous peoples of Bangladesh Advocate Mankin mentioned, present government has given recognition to the “minor races” in the constitution. If the constitution can be amended for 15 times, it is possible to be amended for 16 times for the sake of the rights of indigenous peoples, Mankin added.

Dr. Mizanur Rahman noted that indigenous peoples are the most vulnerable portion of the population during present political situation. He also urged the political parties to give up violent politics saying, ‘please do the politics of mass people giving up anarchy and violence. We do not want the politics that elevate the number of corpses.’

Information commissioner Dr. Sadeka Halim said the land act at the mainstream does not have any recognition for customary laws of indigenous peoples. She asked the government to end such discriminations through providing recognition to indigenous peoples in the constitution.

Teacher of Jagannath University Razib Mir, assistant attorney general Advocate Titus Hillol Rema, journalist of Ekattor TV Farjana Rupa, journalist of Daily Kaler Kantho Biplab Rahman, Oxfam officer Saikat Biswas, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad chairperson Rabindranath Soren, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, Dhaka University teacher Dr. Sourav Sikdar and Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous also addressed the programme about different issues of human rights situations of indigenous peoples of Bangladesh.