Santu Larma urges ethnic groups to achieve their rights

Santu Larma urges ethnic groups to achieve their rights

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Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF) President Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma urge the young generation of the ethnic minority come forward spontaneously to strengthen the ongoing struggle for their rights.
“Indigenous people will have to survive through struggle. They have no alternative way,” said Santu Larma.He was addressing a rally organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Forum marking International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Tuesday at the central Shaheed Minar in the capital.
Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon, eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal, former National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Mizanur Rahman, several rights activists, academicians, politicians and civil society members, among others, also spoke there.
“The government is not sympathetic and cordial to protect rights of indigenous people. We get a reflection of such attitude through many of its activities,” said Larma, also the president of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS).
“We have been struggling since independence of Bangladesh to protect existence as well as social, political, economic and land rights….our struggle will continue,” he said
“We want to see Bangladesh as a non-communal country where indigenous people can live with all fundamental rights,” he said.
This year, the day will be observed globally with the theme “Indigenous peoples’ right to education”.
However, indigenous people in Bangladesh will observe the day with the theme “Indigenous peoples’ rights to education, land and life”.
Santu Larma alleged that the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) treaty held in 1997 is yet to implement fully.
“The ruling class do not love us, do not trust us even do not count us as human being,” said Santu Larma.
About the present situation of indigenous people of Bangladesh he alleged that the country’s ruling class and discriminatory social systems are behind the miserable lives of indigenous people.
After independence of Bangladesh, many governments assumed state power. All of them treated the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), populated with indigenous people, as colony, claims Santu Larma.
He also alleged that their miseries include eviction of indigenous people from their ancestral lands, deprivation of education, repression by “Banglai settlers” and poor access to justice.
‘Position of indigenous people in both plain land and hill areas is not good at all…Land grabbing, killing, abduction, rape and violence against women aiming at displacing the indigenous people from their traditional land are on the rise,’ he said.
‘Keeping the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord in uncertainty, the government is carrying out anti-accord activities that go against the interest of jumma people,’ said Santu, , who inked the accord with the government on December 2, 1997.
Government should make the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission functional to end land related problem of ethnic minorities in hill areas and form a separate land commission for plain-land minorities for the same reason, he added.
Santu alleged that people who had been opposing the implementation of CHT accord were now opposing cabinet approval to the draft Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Bill.
Five organisations linked to Bengalis in the hill districts called daylong general strike at three hill districts for August 10 opposing the bill.- Staff Reporter

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