Bangladesh Adibashi Forum President Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, yesterday said time is over to appeal to the government for ensuring the rights of indigenous people and implementation of the peace accord signed between the Awami League government and PCJSS 17 years ago.
“Now, we need to be organised to hold strong protests against the government and dominant groups in the country to ensure the security of our life, rights and land,” Larma, also the chairman of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, said while addressing a programme at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
He also added: “If the government thinks that the indigenous people are divided, then it will be making a great mistake.”
“From today and from this holy place, I want to call on all indigenous people to come forward to hold protests with more strength than before,” he added.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman inaugurated the programme, releasing colourful balloons. Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon attended the inaugural function as the chief guest.
Speakers at the programme demanded amendment to the term “Khudro Nritattik Jonogosthi” (small ethnic group) and implementation of the peace accord as soon as early.
The NHRC chairman said: “The law was enacted in the name of ensuring the rights of indigenous people. I have no idea how can the government withdraw the term “indigenous” and deny to accept the indigenous people of the country.”
The civil aviation minister said: “We have engaged in a new debate after the 15th amendment to the constitution, although there are so many developments in the 15th amendment. This is a stupid logic that there are no indigenous people in the country. There are some people who consider the indigenous issue on security grounds.”
“I want to say clearly that the peace accord should be implemented as soon as possible,” he added.
Robayet Ferdaus, an associate professor at Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Dhaka University, said: “The state talks about democratic development, but we see military dominance over a part of the country. The state with the continuation of demographic politics wants to eliminate the indigenous people from their own land.”
Santu Larma presided over the programme, moderated by BAF Secretary Sanjib Drong.
Later, a cultural programme was held at the venue. After the programme, a colourful procession was brought out from Shaheed Minar which ended at Teachers-Students Centre of Dhaka University.
Santu Larma also inaugurated an Adibashi fair, organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation at the Bangla Academy.
Speaking on the occasion, Sultana Kamal said: “We demand setting up of language academy for each language in the country. The rights for language should be ensured properly.”
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