Repression on indigenous women fuels their migration
Speakers, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, have said the increasing repression against indigenous women is the major cause of forcible migration from the hilly areas.
The speakers on Thursday while addressing a rally-cum meeting held at the Central Shaheed Minar said violence against indigenous women has been increasing due to the deterioration of law and order.
The theme of the discussion was “Indigenous Peoples’ Migration and Movement”.
The speakers said these cases have become so frequent that it has become a mainstream strategy for the perpetrators, who want to drive the minorities away from their own land.
Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government Advocate Sultana Kamal inaugurated the program and Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu was present as the chief guest.
Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) Chief Santu Larma presided over the program.
The day-long program comprised of tribal dance and music and ended with a call for recognizing the indigenous people in the constitution.
Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF) came up with an eight-point demand at the program, including enacting an Indigenous Rights Protection Act, stopping forcible migration, ensuring a special budget allocation for indigenous people, and implementing the Land Commission Act.
Speaking at the event, Dhaka University (DU) Professor of Department of Mass Communication and Journalism Dr Rubaiyat Ferdous said: “There are four steps which the oppressors use to drive the indigenous people from their own land: attacking their homes, destroying their livelihoods, attacking religious institutions, and lastly, repress the women and children.
“Nowadays, inflicting violence on indigenous women has been chosen by the oppressors as the prime tool to drive the indigenous people from their own land.”
“Today, we are still being deprived of our fundamental rights regarding land, culture, education, and language. In the remote areas of the hilly districts, so many indigenous children are still deprived of the right to education,” said Shantu Larma.
He also said the indigenous people are forced to migrate as both political and economic attacks have been made on them.
He said: “We don’t want to leave the country. We want to live in the country with our citizenship rights and dignity. We have to ensure our rights through collective action.”
BAF General Secretary Sanjib Drong urged the government to enact special laws in accordance with the national constitution in order to preserve the rights of indigenous people, as laws currently in effect have failed to do so.
The Information Minister Inu said: “The government has been taking all-out efforts to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in Bangladesh. There is no way to undermine the demand of equality, claimed by the minor communities.”
Inu further said: “The constitutional recognition of indigenous people as the minor community through the 15th amendment is one of the major steps to protect their rights. More steps will be taken gradually.”
Bangladesh Jatiya Adivasi Parishad President Rabindranath Saren, DU History Department Professor Mesbah Kamal, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, and actor Mamunur Rashid, also spoke at the program, among others.