The Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh are one of the most deprived groups in many aspects of economic, social, cultural and political rights mainly due to their status of ethnic minority- illustrate and explain.

  Introduction :

The word ‘indigenous’ has many meanings but there is no official definition on Indigenous Peoples, and actually, definitions developed in the past carry flaws or create confusions. Indigenous Peoples refer to the first to settle in the country, with other names such as aborigines. In every region of the world, many different cultural groups live together and interact, but not all of these groups are considered indigenous or inherent to their particular geographic area. In fact, it is only in the face of a collective or shared sense of identity that the term indigenous peoples has been internationally recognized. indigenous people or native , are ethnic group  who are native to a land or region, especially before the arrival and intrusion of a foreign and possibly dominating culture. They are a group of people whose members share a cultural identity that has been shaped by their geographical region. A variety of names are used in various countries to identify such groups of people, but they generally are regarded as the “original inhabitants” of a territory or region. Their right to self-determination may be materially affected by the later-arriving ethnic groups.

Bangladesh is an independent country. After 1971, we are recognized as the resident of Bangladesh, but there are some unfortunate people around the world who are not resident of any country. In Bangladesh, here are number of people called indigenous; those who are neither the resident of this country nor from others.

the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh are one of the most deprived groups in many aspects of economic, social, cultural and political rights mainly due to their status of ethnic minority. Evidences show that the indigenous people of the country have very limited access to basic human rights including right to basic public services.[1]

 Identity of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh:

Government perspectives on the identity of indigenous peoples, however, are varied. It prefers the terms “tribe” and “tribal” (“upajati” in Bangla), and is opposed to the use of the words “indigenous” and “adivasi”.  Following the 29 August 2005 High Court verdict that declared the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Act, 1979 (Act 1 of 1979).from that this particular group is known as indigenous people.[2]


ultra vires and illegal, the government of Bangladesh took initiative to amend the constitution. To pursue the government of Bangladesh for constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples, the leaders of indigenous peoples raised their voices for recognition of their rights to existence, identities, culture, participation and consent, self-government, land and territories in the constitution.On 20 December 2009 in a national roundtable on ‘ILO Convention 169’ and ‘Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament’ organized by ILO and RDC in Dhaka, a parliamentary caucus for indigenous peoples’ causes was formed.

The recent change of provisions in Bangladesh:

It is mentionable that as per verdict of Supreme Court, Awami League-led present grand alliance government amended constitution of Bangladesh. For this purpose, Jatiya Sangsad (National Parliament) passed Fifteen Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2011 on 30 June 2011.[3]

The government did not provide constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples as indigenous peoples (Adibasi); rather, termed tribals, small nationalities, ethnic group and communities. These terminologies are not accepted by the indigenous peoples.[4]

fifteen Amendment provides that the People of Bangladesh shall be known as Bengali as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis. Indigenous peoples of Bangladesh do not want to be known as Bengali. Indigenous peoples rejected it saying that they are Bangladeshi as citizens, but they are not “Bengali” as nation/community. They (indigenous peoples) all are a separate nation possessing separate identity, culture, customs, language and society.4

Indigenous peoples also protested against retaining of “BISMILLAH-AR-RAHMAN-AR-RAHIM” (In the name of Allah) in the preamble of the constitution and ISLAM as state religion. They argued that Islam alone cannot be the state religion as there are people who practice and follow other religions such as Hindu, Christian, Bouddha and Indigenous Practices. They said that it would turn people of other religions to second-class citizens.

Our government has said that there is no Indigenous people in our country.government has failed to give the proper support to these people and they have no right to deny he existnce of these people. The indigenous people has rejected the 15th ammendment of our country, here  is given the latest change in constitution:


Main concerns that affect Indigenous peoples are;

(1)   Retaining of “BISMILLAH-AR-RAHMAN-AR-RAHIM” (In the name of Allah) In the preamble of the constitution.

(2)   Retaining of ISLAM as state religion: Islam alone cannot be the state religion as there are people who practice and follow other religions such as Hindu, Christian, Bouddha and Indigenous Practices.

(3)   on recognition of Indigenous Peoples as Indigenous (Adibasi). Upajati(tribes)/Khudra Jatisatta(minor races)/Nrigosthi-sampradai(ethnic sects and communities) are the terms inserted. These terminologies are not acceptable to the indigenous peoples.

(4)   The People of Bangladesh shall be know as Bengali as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be know as Bangladeshis. Indigenous peoples of Bangladesh do not want to be known as Bengali. In this way Indigenous peoples own national identity will get lost.

(5)    There is every possibility for the political parties/organizations/associations of the Indigenous Peoples  to be stopped terming them communal[5]

The activities to protest the ammendment

In 8th &10th July 2011, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) protested against the constitution where it was written to terming indigenous peoples as ‘Bengali’ and non-recognition of indigenous peoples and Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord of 1997 in the Constitution. PCJSS rejected the Fifteen Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2011 and asked the government for its revision.[6]

            PCJSS leaders expressed their objection in a large public meeting  in reiterating their demands for full implementation of the CHT Accord.


The speech and the activities to protest the amendment are given below:[7]

ñ     In through a united movement the speech as chief guest, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma strongly criticized the government because, despite popular demands for constitutional recognition of indigenous people, they are not giving consideration of PCJSS demands for constitutional recognition of indigenous people the  15th constitution amendment denied to provide the recognition to these peoples.

ñ     Mr. Larma also said that the ‘Jumma’ people in the CHT are still being denied their rights. Despite the signing of an Accord with the Jumma people, military rule was continuing in the name of Operation Uttaran, Bengalis were continuing to settle in the CHT illegally, land commission is intentionally not functioning their rights.

ñ       Mr. Larma reminded Sheikh Hasina of her father’s command to the Jumma people to become Bengalis and its historical consequences.2


ñ     Mr. Larma called said the Jumma people, who were involved with Awami League or BNP or Jatiya Party, to quit those parties and join the movement of the Jumma people. He said ‘Leave those who do not recognise your existence, those who want to make you Bengalis,’

ñ     he also said that, the government always broke rules. In 1997, a deal was signed between govt and PCJSS.on that time over a hundred indigenous people were died by a terrorist organisation.

ñ     Mr. Larma said to all the Jumma people to get united and wage a movement against those, who do not recognize the existence of ‘indigenous peoples’, who intend to rob them of their racial identity by making them Bengalis and turn them into second-class citizens by retaining the provision of state religion.

ñ     Larma added that a deep conspiracy against the Jumma people has continued since 1972 to evict the indigenous people from ancestral lands and not to give them constitutional recognition but Jumma people will resist such conspiracy   through a united movement.

ñ     In that seminar it was announced to the government to take immediate steps for proper implementation of CHT Accord, Larma said, “We do not want to see any delay. Implement the Accord fully without any delay. Otherwise tougher agitation will be launched against the government.”

ñ                 speakers of the protest meeting also focused onto the local 3 Mp’s, because “despite being indigenous they did not protest when the constitution was being amended in parliament, whereas being a Bengali, Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haq Inu and other MPs spoke against the government move.” so they declared the 3 MP’s ‘unwanted’.[8]

ñ                 A large procession was brought out after the rally that paraded through the major streets in the town.


Population and the situation of indigenous people in our country:


Several surveys are observed in recent years, here are some of those:[9]

ñ       A study of Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR)  revealed that some 61.44 percent of indigenous people still face discrimination, 41.86 percent are victims of corruptions, and 18.67 percent evicted from their ancestors’ land.

ñ      The study was conducted on 332 indigenous people of Jessore, Mymensingh, Chapainawabganj, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Pabna, Rangamati and Sylhet districts from April 2007 to March 2008.

ñ      According to the study, 50 percent of these people are not getting fair price of their agricultural products while 49.39 percent complained that they are not getting treatment in public hospitals.

ñ      Prof Nazrul Islam of Dhaka University said as around 1.2 million indigenous people of the country are yet to be recognised as special or indigenous communities constitutionally, they are deprived of enjoying their rights and facing discrimination.

ñ      He said some 30.12 percent of indigenous people are not getting educational facilities while 22.89 percent of them are facing threats and violence.

ñ      He called for strengthening security of life and property of the minority communities in the country and upholding the basic human rights of all citizens as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ñ      Prof Nazrul also called for indigenous communities ensuring full implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Treaty, and monitoring the activities of law enforcement agencies in the CHT by an independent body.

ñ      “Laws in the CHT should be revised to meet international human rights standard and a National Human Rights Commission should be formed as a matter of priority to address the human rights situation in the CHT,” he added.

ñ      Another survey sas that, Bangladesh has been the dwelling place of different ethnic groups.In fact,35 smaller groups of indegenous people covering about 2 percent of the total population have been livingin different pockets of the hilly zones & small areas of the plain lands of the country. their historical background,economic activities,social structure,religious beliefs & festivals make them distinctive.

ñ      It is also published that, Bangladesh’s tribal population consists of about 1 million people, just under 1 percent of the total population. They live primarily in the Chittagong Hills and in the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Rajshahi. The majority of the tribal population (778,425) live in rural settings, where many practice shifting cultivation.[10]


Demand about the constitution:

ñ     the ruling Awami League in its election manifesto had said  to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples to land, water bodies and forests repealing all discriminatory laws, But this has completely changed in 2011. Now the government says that there is no indigenous people in the country.[11](Anil Marandy)

ñ      the indigenous languages are losing their existence everyday in the world. Bangladesh government has ratified the ILO convention 107, which is related to the development of indigenous languages. But the national laws have not been reformulated in accordance with ILO convention. The main reason of the extinction of indigenous languages is the lack of political will. The same thing is to blame in losing the land and cultures. Indigenous leader of CHT Manabendra Narayan Larma, demanded the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples during the formulation of the constitution. But his demand was denied. Now indigenous peoples do want a place in the constitution.

ñ                 the government has termed the indigenous peoples as ‘small ethnic groups’. That means there are only two groups in Bangladesh. The first group is ‘Big’ and the second group is ‘small’. But there are no ‘people’. But when the head of the state provides any speech, in that case, uses the term ‘indigenous peoples’. Although there is a disagreement to recognize the indigenous peoples constitutionally. But we ought to pose the demands about our rights continuously. We should learn the indigenous languages as well as the national and international languages. It is necessary to take assistance of indigenous peoples during the formulation of the text books. The indigenous teacher should be appointed in the indigenous populated schools.[12]

ñ      Present government is busy to serve the vested groups instead of mass people interest. The indigenous peoples who have contributed to the freedom movement are not recognized as indigenous peoples in the recent constitution amendment. Moreover the CHT Accord remains unimplemented,          General Ziaur Rahman and General Ershad had brought the army and settlers in CHT aiming at to turn the CHT into Muslim populated area.[13]

ñ     The indigenous peoples claimed constitutional safeguard of indigenous languages and cultures of the Bangladesh. They placed the demand that, “The practice and development of the indigenous languages: what is to be done”in a seminar Mr.Mong Sing Neo,(coordinator of Kapaeeng Foundation for indigenous)said, “indigenous peoples are facing obstruction to introduce and practice their own languages due to the constitutional identity crisis of indigenous peoples linguistically and ethnically. There is a disguised deficiency in the education system in Bangladesh. There is no positive themes for indigenous students related to the own language and culture in the curriculum, which will teach the students to be interested and analytic. The language difficulty is the one of the problems which is regarded as the obstacle to acquire the education of the indigenous students. The teachers provide the instruction in Bengali but an indigenous student comes to the school in the company of a dissimilar language. The Bengali is an unfamiliar and incomprehensible for the indigenous students the same as English is unfamiliar and incomprehensible for the Bengali students.”

ñ     many of social workers,members of BSEHR recommended some solutions for developing the indigenous languages. As:

ñ     he also said that, the right to mother language of indigenous peoples was recognized in several international standards prior to the declaration of ‘international mother language day’ of 21 February by UNESCO. He said; according to the ILO convention 107 indigenous students have the rights to mother language instruction in the country. He added that, according to the CHT accord and Hill districts council’s acts the mother language instruction of the indigenous students of the CHT has been recognized officially.[14]


ñ     emphasize on the lobby and campaign to influence the government decision for constitutional safeguard of indigenous languages and cultures.

ñ     including special measures related to the state language in the constitution of Bangladesh to develop and patronize indigenous languages.

ñ     including special measures along with the Article 23 of the constitution in order to preserve and patronize the culture, language, custom, tradition, norms, literature, arts and heritage of the indigenous peoples.[15]

ñ     The establishment of the indigenous language academy, the establishment of a separate education board for indigenous peoples and instruction of the indigenous students in bilingual and multilingual systems, providing suitable guidance for indigenous teachers and incorporation of the indigenous languages and cultures in the curriculum also recommended.

ñ     Finally, it is necessary to translate the laws, declarations, documents of the government and indigenous related treaties, laws and documents in indigenous languages.

They have own land management system based on ceds to honor the culture of indigenous peoples and their community land ownership that mainstream population don’t have. The indigenous peoples think that the land is alike mother. That is why they offer worship to land. They never think land is wealth and it is things for sell. For that, they never fell to have a written title of land, it is their culture and everybody needs to honor this.[16]


ñ     General people recommendation over this issue:

They have own land management system based on ceds to honor the culture of indigenous peoples and their community land ownership that mainstream population don’t have. The indigenous peoples think that the land is alike mother. That is why they offer worship to land. They never think land is wealth and it is things for sell. For that, they never fell to have a written title of land, it is their culture and everybody needs to honor this.

ñ     the government should ensure indigenous peoples’ right to land along with their political, economic and social rights. They also demanded formation of a separate commission for the plain land indigenous peoples.

The steps for the indigenous people:
August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.[17]
It is a time to explore the history and culture of the millions all over the world who are Indigenous,and also to do something for them.

1)As it is very expensive to ensure Human Rights (HR) through the High Court, it is a must to establish an independent National HR Commission immediately, the representation of indigenous people in the HR Commission must be ensured.[18]
2)by providing voter ID cards, a process is going on to legalise the settlers including those who went to CHT areas even two to three months ago.
3)Demanding institutional recognition, Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivashi Forum, urged the government to enact national laws in the light of ILO Convention, Conventional Biological Diversity and Child Rights Convention (CRC) that have been ratified by the government.
4)He also called for recognising the human rights of indigenous people. [19]

The rights for which the government has to work for indigenous people in the country:[20]

                1)land Rights and Land Dispossession:

            2)Gross Human Rights Issues

3)      Women and Children Rights

4)      Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

5)      An Audit on the Implementation of CHT Accord.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                                     As a human being, the indigenous people also need basic shelter,respect and the right to live like a free resident but the real scenario is different. Any kind of force upon them for any reason will be considered as crime. If the indigenous people will get their right; they can prove their individual strong identity. Our government is the principle one, who can ensure their development. we should work for constitutional recognition of indigenous languages. We should also work for preserve the languages so that these will not vanish and can be practiced. There are a few indigenous languages in the plain lands, which had been already omitted. The existing languages are also going to be omitted. A country’s overall development could not be achieved if the ethnic minority people were not included in the process.if the strong law division and the dedicated organizations utmost needed for our country to help these Indigenous peoples.



the law & our rights                                                                                                                                                                                              

the dailystar:internet eedition                                                                                                                                                                       

Indigenous people                                                                                                                                                                                                         wikipedia

the 15th amendment crisis in Bangladesh                                                                                                                                                   

15th amendment constitution in Bangladesh                                                                                       htttp://

human rights report 2009-2010                                                                                                                                                                        

meaning of indigenous people                                                                                                                                                                        search

indigenous people of Bangladesh                                                                                                                                                                 

who are indigenous people?                                                                                                                                                                                      Http://                                                                                                                                              

                Bangladesh indigenous people rejected the amendment;                                                                                                 

constitutional correction from the public forum.

[1]                                                                                     )1st july 2011 the dailystar p-1

[2]              )the amendment of Bangladesh constitution

[3]              )1st july,2011,the bangladesh Observer p-2,

[4]              )community forum of banglades for the tribals magazine,p-32,para-3

[5]              )the 15th amendment of Bangladesh,p-4

[6]              )the morale human rights magazine,p-18

[7]              )(Presided over by Gunendu Bikash Chakma, president of PCJSS Rangamati district committee, PCJSS president Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma was present as chief guest at the gathering. The protest gathering was addressed, among others, by president of CHT chapter of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, vice-president of PCJSS Ushatan Talukder, convenor of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Bijoy Keton Chakma, former president of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) and central staff member of PCJSS Udayan Tripura and president of PCP Nitol Chakma. Youth affairs secretary of PCJSS Rangamati district committee Palash Tanchangya delivered welcome speech while general secretary of PCJSS Rangamati district committee Nilotpal Chakma conducted the meeting.)

[8]              )mr.larma said that the real faces of the three lawmakers elected from CHT region— Jatindralal Tripura, Dipankar Talukdar and Bir Bahadur— have been exposed during the passage of the ‘controversial’ bill as they played passive role during the adoption of the bil

[9]              ) PCJSS with introductory comments from Mrinal Kanti Tripura, Trinamul Unnayan Sangstha (TUS) and also specially collected by prof.Najrul.

[10]  )tribal population guide, p-10

Although indigenous peoples are 1.13% of total population of the country, only 0.32% Annual Development Programme (ADP) has been allocated for them in fiscal year 2009-2010

[11]            )Anil Marandy,speech in a seminar;26th october2010

[12]            )Eighteen indigenous communities of the country

[13]            )mr.Pankaj Bhattacharja,in the seminar on 10 august 2011

[14]  )survey report in the daily star weekly magazine.Indigenous children are still deprived of education through mother tongue. 16 indigenous children were rescued from a hotel and arrested a man on charges of child trafficking from Bandarban town.

[15]  )article-23,in the amendment is “Although indigenous peoples are 1.13% of total population of the country, only 0.32% Annual Development Programme (ADP) has been allocated for them in fiscal year 2009-2010. In fiscal year 2009-2010, per capita ADP allocation for overall Bangladesh has been taka 1,996.98; whereas indigenous peoples of CHT received per capita ADP of taka 1652.67 and for indigenous peoples of plain land the amount was taka 83.64 only. In average, per capita ADP allocation for overall Bangladesh has been nearly 3 times higher than the allocation for indigenous peoples. Allocation for plain land’s indigenous peoples increased a little in 2008-09, but decreased for CHT.”

[16]  )documentary on indigenous people and their lifestyle,by; ananta bannergy

also some individual authors.

[17]  )The United Nation General Assembly on 23 December 1994 designated 9 August to be observed as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People every year during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (Resolution 49/214).

[18]  )said Prof Mesbah Kamal of Dhaka University,in the DU seminal.

as per the rules, if the law is strict then the problem can be easily solved.can be seen in the text book of Bangladesh tribal and the right,by; Shahnaz Rahmatullah,p-144

[19]  )Though the then government led by Sheikh Hasina signed the CHT Accord with the PCJSS to resolve the CHT problem through political and peaceful means in 1997, but only a little of the Accord was implemented during her tenure in 1996-2001.

[20]  )15th September,annual development program.

mostly in this seminar it was broadly discussed about the issue of woman indigenous and their rights.

On the third Upazila Parishad election held on 22 January 2010, no indigenous women was elected in the post of the chair. However, in 25 Upazila Parishads under the three hill districts of CHT 15 indigenous women have been elected as the vice-chairs. Among them 10 are Chakma, two Marma, two Tripura and one from Tanchangya community. On the contrary, only one indigenous woman candidate in Madhupur upazila under Gazipur district named Ms. Jostina Noknek won the election for the post of Woman vice-chair.

The daily star and The Bangladesh Observer highly focused the issue.

During 2009-2010 some incidents occur which was a threat to the country so that the seminar took place.