Bangladeshi indigenous people have taken the streets holding meetings human chairs and rallies for their constitutional recognition of their population-illustrate and explain.
In Bangladesh there are about 45 recognized different indigenous communities living in the plain lands and Chittagong hill tracts. They are commonly known as Tribal or Adibashi. Almost 98% people of Bangladeshi are Bengalis and they speak the Bangle language. The minorities are Chakmas, Khasi, Santhal and other tribes. In recent months many Bangladeshi indigenous people have taken the streets holding meetings human chairs and rallies for their constitutional recognition of their population. There was no reference of tribal of indigenous people in Bangladesh first constitution of 1972.
2. A. Indigenous peoples:
There is no specific definition of indigenous people. In the anthropological perspective there are many definitions of indigenous people around the world. There are 4 criteria to distinguish indigenous people:
– Indigenous people usually live within geographically distinct ancestral territories
– They tend to maintain distinct social, economic and political institutions within their territories
– They remain distinct culturally geographically and institutionally rather than assimilate fully into national society.
– They self identity as indigenous or tribal
Despite the common characteristics there does not exist any single definition which support them and cover their diversity. But in recent months many Bangladeshi indigenous people have taken the sweet holding meeting, human chains and rallies demanding constitutional recognition of their population. There was no reference for indigenous people under the 1972 constitution where mentioned that Bangladesh would be a land of Bengalis.
B. Elements of indigenous peoples include
In Bangladesh frequently the term adibashi used for those people who are settled in some areas in Bangladesh as first inhabitants which is similar to Adibashi and anthropological Indigenous. They are discussed in different ways. Ethinic group which are focuses on global socio-cultural context related to social and geographical position. These communities required as subjects, objects, agents and also victims. Sometimes they required as Pahari, Janglee,and Upajati. In many official documents indigenous people are documented as Tribal, but in some laws they have been documented indigenous for example Act12 of 1995 and rules 6,34,45&50 of the CHT regulation 1900.Another word is Aboriginal which is also used in government documents such as in section 97,East Bengal State acquisition and tendency act1950.Very recently, the ministry of foreign affairs through a letter instructed to the ministry of CHT to use the word Upajati in place of Adibashi as stated by “The daily Amar Desh” on 13th may 2006.
C. Indigenous people of Bangladesh
In Bangladesh indigenous people are mainly known as Adibashi.In Bangladesh there are about 49 different indigenous communities living in the plain land and also in hills areas. Since there were no ethnographical survey of indigenous people of Bangladesh, it is very difficult to present the actual number of them. The people who are lived in our country Chakmas, Khasi, Santhal and other tribes numbering more than 1 million people (about 1.2% of total population) who basically like to live in hilly regions. Chakmas are ethnically Tibeto-Burman and Barma and closely related in Himalayan people. According to the history they are actually came from Arakan (present Rakhine State of Burma) who hundreds of years ago wandered and settled in different parts of India and Bangladesh. Whatever we know about them it is really true that they have love and respect about the nature. Religion is not personal matter to them. They think that it is a communal process but not a personal way. There is a deep interrelation between their religious belief and their social structure. The communal sprit is strong and according to their law and custom all land is the property of community. Public ceremony like birth,marriage,death etc. reinforce their solidarity.
D. Discrimination against indigenous people:
General people think that their religion and culture are inferior. The population 0f Bangladesh forms a marginalized and exploited minority who live isolated in pockets in different parts of the country. For the social development work those people of the country are not effectively included as development actors whereas contributors or as beneficiaries.
Some projects also have been taken in different regime that made them more vulnerable too. Sometimes the poor indigenous people are not allowed to have food, take tea, breakfast etc in the hotels and restaurants.
The government often says in Bangladesh nobody is minority and nobody is majority all are equal. But unfortunately GOB adopted policies to discriminate exclude, disintegrate and misprocess the minority and indigenous people. The change in the constitution of Bangladesh of 1972 through 5th &8th amendments curtailed the rights of the indigenous and minority people. These changes made them 2nd class citizen.
3. Setting standards for the rights of Indigenous and Tribal people:
ILO is responsible for the only two international instruments relating exclusively to indigenous and Tribal people.
(a)Indigenous and Tribal population convention, 1957, (N0, 107). (b) Indigenous and Tribal peoples convention No 169, and it is under active consideration in a number of other countries. These two conventions establish minimum standards with respect to the civil political social and economic rights of indigenous and Tribal people. They create binding obligations on the member states. That has ratified them. The first comprehensive international instrument setting for to the rights of indigenous and Tribal populations and the obligations of ratifying states toward then. While convention No. 107 broke new ground it used patronizing language referring in its Article 1(1) (a) to these populations as less advanced and promoting assimilations approach. In the years following its adoption, the limitations of convention No 107 became evident and indigenous groups themselves began to call for new international standards.
4. Obligation of the state
Obligation of the state:
As part of our population the state have to do many obligations to them. These obligations of the state have come to be identified as the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill.
Obligation to respect:
State must abstain from carrying out or tolerating any violation of the right in question by agents of the state.
Obligation to protect:
State must prevent the violation lf the right by other individuals and non state actors.
Obligation to fulfill:
State must provide the resources and services necessary for individuals to enjoy their rights. This incorporates the obligation to facilitate state must be proactive in strengthening people’s access to the rights and obligations to provide (state must fulfill the rights directly whenever an individual or group is unable for reasons beyond their control, to enjoy the rights).
The right of food, education and health each require the state to meet what the core obligation. These require state parties ensure the satisfaction of, at the very least, minimum essential levels of each of the rights. Violation occurs through the direct action of the state is act of commission and also the failure to take step that are requires by the ESCR (act of commission).
Recent changes in constitution:
Salient features of the 15th amendment of the Constitution passed by parliament Thursday.
1. Caretaker system abolished
2. Elections to be held under incumbent cabinet
3. Islam as State religion and ‘Bismillah-Ar-Rahman-Ar-Rahim’ retained
4. Revival of Article 12 to restore Secularism and freedom of religion
5. The people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation and citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis
6. Inserted articles 7A and 7B in the Constitution after Article 7 in a bid to end takeover of power through extra-constitutional means
7. Basic provisions of the constitution are not amendable
8. In the case of a dissolution Parliament by any reason, election should be held within 90 days of such dissolution
9. Increasing the number of women reserve seats to 50 from existing 45.
10. The Supreme Command of the defense services shall vest in the President and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law.
11. The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, and the other judges shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice.
12. The portrait of the Father of the nation Bangbandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman shall be preserved and display at the offices of the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker, and the Chief Justice and in head and branch offices of all government and semi-government offices, autonomous bodies, statutory public authorities, government and non-government educational institutions, embassies and missions of Bangladesh abroad.
13. Incorporation of historic speech of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman on March 7, 1971, declaration of independence by Bangabandhu after midnight of March 25, 1971 and the proclamation of Independence declared at Mujibnagar on April 10, 1971.
On the basis of the analysis, it was briefly discussed about the dimension of indigenous people of Bangladesh. These dimensions of deprivations were created not only for the scare resources and failure of the governance. Most of the govt. has tried to serve their own purpose and use those people. But it is not revealed the govt. through sensitization towards them has taken mentionable step.
In any development planning, decision making stages or policy level there is no meaningful participation of those peoples of Bangladesh. But it should not be the purpose of government because they are part of our country and they have the right to get the opportunities.
Their leaders are frequently claim that the peace treaty is not been implemented by any govt.Education status also bellows of the indigenous people than the national average and government has not taken any mentionable step. Harassment by the govt. officials such as forest department, land department law enforcing agencies and military also accused much by the news paper reports as well as claim by the indigenous leaders.
But it is not the legal work done by government because as it is the part of total population and we cannot develop by depriving them of their right. So govt. should provide them their right, basic needs and many other facilities which get the general people.
1. Human rights treaty bodies and indigenous peoples
2. ILO and Indigenous issue IDISCO programme, ILO website
3. Muhammed Kamal Uddin –Rights of Indigenous people and Minority issue in Bangladesh.
4. Journal of ethics Affairs volum 1 published by Ethnic community development organization
5. Raja Debases Roy constitutional provision and Adibashi in Bangladesh, Solidarity 2006.