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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Indigenous recognition still lacking in Bangladesh

Special Announcement: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous recognition still lacking in Bangladesh

On this, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) would like to remind everyone that many Indigenous communities around the world remain unrecognized and unprotected by their governments. In Bangladesh, indigenous Jumma communities continue to fight for recognition of their indigenous status in the national constitution and experience human rights abuses on a daily basis without protection from their government.

Recently, government representatives have proclaimed that ethnic minorities in Bangladesh, particularly the Jumma living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are “not indigenous” but are rather to be considered as “tribal groups”. The Government went even further and stated that Bangladesh does not have an indigenous population within its borders.
This argument is used to avoid responsibility and defer the focus from their suffering. The unwillingness to recognise indigenous peoples is a commonly used mechanism of Governments to deny their rights and dismiss international scrutiny.

In reaction to this, indigenous peoples, academics and rights groups have recently protested in Dhaka, denouncing these statements and demanding their recognition in the constitution of Bangladesh.

GHRD, along with many international human rights organizations, rejects these statements and maintain that the Jumma clearly meet the available criteria to identify indigenous peoples, they have close link to natural resources, a distinct social, economic and political system, a distinct language and culture, and particularly the most crucial element: self-identification.

On this day, we wish to emphasise the responsibility of all governments and of the Bangladeshi in particular, to protect its indigenous population from destruction, and to provide its vulnerable communities with special protection. The rightful recognition of indigenous status, as well as constitutional protection is one clear and strong indicator of such commitment.

GHRD, The Hague, The Netherlands
9 August, 2011

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