Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory-illustrate and explain

  1. 1.      Introduction

The world today is seeing a rapid decrease in cultural diversity and the extinction of indigenous peoples and their lifestyle. Indigenous Peoples worldwide number between 300-500 million, represents and supports 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity, and inhabits 20% of the world’s land[1]. In some countries indigenous peoples are majority of the population and in some countries they are only minority like Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the 11 countries which withheld in voting on the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples[2]. The cause as identified by the demonstrator of Bangladesh at UN is that the term ‘indigenous people’ has not been clearly well-defined or recognized in the stated Declaration. The government of Bangladesh has been continuously rejecting many of the borderline populations’ privileges to credit as indigenous peoples. The bordering groups of Bangladesh have worried the need for authorized credit as indigenous peoples. 24 They have also highlighted the status of credit of their right to property and control over regular properties. The native councils have said their anxiety about expansion issues connected to use of and in spite of the signing of an contract with the government. They have pointed out the fact of exclusion and shift of thousands of native peoples as a result of government-sponsored clearance programs into the indigenous areas. The native peoples have transported to notice that little had been done in the past years to improve the condition of health and hygiene.

  1. 2.      Definition of Indigenous people

The definitions of Indigenous people are different from place to place but the most accepted definition is given by WGIP. In 1972 the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) established as an earliest explanation a construction put ahead by Mr. José Martínez Cobo, Special Rapporteur on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations:

“Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them, by conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or colonial condition; who today live more in conformity with their particular social, economic and cultural customs and traditions than with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a state structure which incorporates mainly national, social and cultural characteristics of other segments of the population which are predominant.”[3]

There has been intense argument over the worldwide legal classification of indigenous populates in the earlier years since neither the indigenous peoples nor the government parties are pleased with the global lawful meanings of indigenous peoples. On top of that, the indigenous peoples have favored self-identification and deprived of any necessity for definition. [4]

  1. 3.      Current status of indigenous people in Bangladesh

A study of Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) publicized that some 61.44 percent of native individuals still face discrimination, 41.86 percent are sufferers of exploitations, and 18.67 percent dispossessed from their descendants´ land[5]. In recent months many Bangladeshi indigenous people have taken the highways holding conferences, human chains and gatherings, demanding constitutional acknowledgment of their population. The ‘indigenous’ argument arose after some comments of a special legislative group occupied to alter the current constitution coming back to the 1972 constitution.[6] According to Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact the main concern that affects the Indigenous peoples are:

(a) Recollecting of In the name of Allah in the opening of the constitution.

(b) Absorbent 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, Buddha and Indigenous Performs.

(c) Non acknowledgment of Indigenous Peoples as Indigenous (Adibasi). Upajati(tribes)/Khudra Jatisatta(minor races)/Nrigosthi-sampradai(cultural sects and societies) are the terms inserted. These terms are not satisfactory to the native populates.

(d) The Nationality and Residency: The Individuals of Bangladesh will be known as Bengali as a country and the people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis. Indigenous peoples of Bangladesh do not want to be recognized as Bengali. In this way Native peoples own nationwide individuality will get misplaced.

(e) Liberty of Suggestion: There is every option for the dogmatic parties/societies/connotations of the Indigenous Peoples to be immobile terming them shared.

The Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh are one of the utmost underprivileged crowds in many parts of economic, communal, traditional and administrative privileges primarily due to their position of ethnic minority. Indications displays that the indigenous folks of the nation have very inadequate contact to basic human rights as well as right to basic community facilities[7]. The major fields of problems faced by the indigenous peoples are given below:

  1. A.     Distinctiveness of Native Bangladeshi:

Government outlooks on the distinctiveness of indigenous peoples are different. It wishes to use the terms “tribe” and “tribal” (“upajati” in Bangla), and is contrasting to the use of the words “indigenous” and “adivasi”[8]. The government’s does not want to recognize that the indigenous peoples is mostly politically inspired and has its origins in Bengali independence. The legitimate condition, on the other hand, is fairly mixed, and redirects, in its totality, the money of all the terms is mostly favored by administration bureaucrats of the country and indigenous peoples mutually[9].

  1. B.      Property Privileges and Property Withdrawal:

The properties of the indigenous peoples are still powerfully being occupied away mainly for establishment of eco-park and national parks, sheltered and held in reserve jungle, withdrawal, disbursement of government funded non-native refugees and creation of armed bases and training centers and improvement projects[10]. The native peoples in CHT are on the limit of complete removal from their inherited land wherever they have been living and nurturing Jum from generation to generation[11].

  1. C.      The Natives Human Rights Issues:

National technologies continue to interrupt the domestic and civil human rights and joint rights of indigenous populates with exemption and there is no actual process available for reimbursement in addressing these damages[12]. A number of cases of human rights damages devoted by Government Militaries are opposing to its general regulations and its worldwide human privileges. Further, the government being a associate of the Human Rights Board should make itself more clear and responsible for what it does to its international human rights responsibilities[13].

  1. D.       Women and Children Rights:

In the third Upazila election held on 22 January 2010, no native womenfolk were elected in the position of the leader. Nevertheless, in 25 Upazila under the three hill districts of 15 native women have been voted as the vice-chairs. Between them ten are Chakma, two Marma, two Tripura and one from Tanchangya public. On the opposing, only one native woman applicant in Madhupur upazila Ms. Jostina Noknek won the voting for the position of Female vice-chair[14].

  1. E.       Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

Annual Development Programme (ADP) plans cannot be considered as indigenous Concentrated as Administration has no clear distribution for indigenous peoples. Even there is no distribution openly for teaching books in mother tongue and authorization of the native females[15].
With regard to the admission quota for indigenous students, there is no coherent policy and the entire issue is often embroiled with bureaucratic interventions[16]. Eighteen indigenous communities of the country are going to be left out from the next population census. The finalized questionnaire, now being printed for the census, which will be held on 15-19 March 2011, mentions only 27 indigenous communities[17].

  1. F.       Government recognition:

So far there have not been any official steps by the administration to reserve the individualities of the “tribal inhabited region” by protecting their existence and existing uninterrupted and reaching the general expansion thereof as exemplified in the Accord[18].

Full performance of the Regional Board Act has not been approved as yet. Instructions of Corporate of the CHTRC are kept undecided as it still delays for administration support for nearly last 12 years. In deficiency of this facility CHTRC is unable to use its right as authorized in the CHTRC Act to manage and organize the actions of all relocated topics under the three HDCs, law and order, general supervision, improvement platforms, the actions of CHT Development Board, management of NGO activities, catastrophe supervision and relief procedure, traditional and social integrity etc.

No other topics, particularly the most significant land administration, general management and law forces, have so far been moved to the three HDCs since the validation of the Agreement. Voting of the HDCs is yet to be held and a Supporter list with only the permanent inhabitants of the CHT, to be qualified by the Circle Chiefs, is yet to be equipped for the voting of HDCs.

Property Commission is yet to begin its job and its Action is yet to be revised in the light of the constitution. This has not only kept property disputes unsettled but also unlocked the floodgates of new property disputes to arise, making things more difficult for plane determination. Only few provisional sites out of 543 camps were reserved so far. Rest of the provisional sites is yet to be undone. Moreover, safety action codenamed ‘Operation Uttaron’ which was resorted to in 2001 to squeeze safety noose, is still in process[19].

  1. G.     Implementation of Chittagong Agreement:

The execution of the Chittagong Agreement is vital for unhindered development of the country. For the peace to succeed and constancy to continue in a emerging country like Bangladesh, it is the call of the hour to media for all the good will at the removal of the state to materialize all that the Agreement stands for. For good governance and rule of regulation to succeed in the Chittagong agreement, there is no choice but to guarantee that Chittagong Accord is respected and is given a reasonable attention[20].

  1. H.     Language Problems:

Almost 98 percent populates of Bangladesh are Bengalis and they communicate using the Bangla language. The subgroups contain Chakmas, Khasi, Santhal and additional tribes totaling more than a million (about 1.2% of total populace) who typically live in the various mountainous areas. Some of the areas are hardly visited by any government agencies or international organizations. In latest years many Bangladeshi native people have engaged in the streets holding seminars, human chains and assemblies, demanding legitimate acknowledgment of their own language. They have been using their own language since their existence and there is no books published in our country in their language. So sometimes it is really hard for them to get higher education.

  1. 4.      Conclusion

In British-India, the mainstream inhabitants have its place to the Hindu and Muslim religious conviction came out conquering in the struggle against colonization and could establish themselves into states. However, the bordering communities who were unable to establish themselves into states at the time of decolonization for whatever reasons have found themselves overwhelmed in the nation-states. The idea of Indigenous populates could verify to be hugely valuable in order to deliver lawful shield to the bordering populations against judgment and discrimination as well as regarding traditional and other privileges. Since the most common population of Bangladesh, it creates no sense to debating that the majority of Bengalis are native in order to criticize of the privilege of publics who are in genuine need of such gratitude to break through the chains of non-dominance. The earlier the administration of Bangladesh understands this, the better it will be for the citizens of Bangladesh.


  1. 5.      Bibliography
    1. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 13 September 2007, available at
    2. Siegfried Wiessner, ‘Rights and Status of Indigenous Peoples: A Global Comparative and International Legal Analysis’, Harvard Human Rights Journal 12 (1999), available at
    3. S James Anaya & Robert A Williams, Jr., ‘The Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights over Lands and Natural Resources Under the Inter-American Human Rights System’, Harvard Human Rights Journal 14 (2001), available at
    4. S. James Anaya, Indigenous Peoples in International Law (2nd ed. 2004)
    5. Explanation of vote by Robert Hagen, US Adviser, on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to the UN General Assembly, with Annex: Observations of the United States with respect to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 13 September 2007, USUN Press Release # 204(07), available at


[1] The Indigenous Peoples of the world are very diverse. They live in nearly all the countries on all the continents of the world and form a spectrum of humanity, ranging from traditional hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers to legal scholars. Indigenous Peoples are concerned with preserving land, protecting language and promoting culture. Some Indigenous Peoples strive to preserve traditional ways of life, while others seek greater participation in the current state structures.

[2] The United Nations, in recognition of the vital role that indigenous peoples play in many world regions, declared 1993 the Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The declaration was intended to give indigenous peoples an opportunity to call attention to their cultures and to the discrimination and disadvantages they face. Many US citizens became aware of the political activities of indigenous peoples during protests against the celebration of Columbus Day in the United States. As a global issue, the rights of indigenous peoples is a problem that cuts across national boundaries and is closely linked to broader issues of human rights, development, the environment, and education and health. The activities in this lesson helps to clarify the definition of indigenous peoples, and explore the diversity of their cultures

[3] This definition has some limitations which were subsequently noted by the organization. The definition applies mainly to pre-colonial populations, and would likely exclude other isolated or marginal societies. In 1983 the WGIP enlarged this definition (FICN. 41Sub.211983121 Adds. Para. 3 79) to include the following criteria:

(a) they are the descendants of groups, which were in the territory at the time when other groups of different cultures or ethnic origin arrived there;

(b) precisely because of their isolation from other segments of the country’s population they have almost preserved intact the customs and traditions of their ancestors which are similar to those characterized as indigenous;

(c) They are, even if only formally, placed under a state structure which incorporates national, social and cultural characteristics alien to their own.

[4] Bangladesh has stated that a procedure based on self-identification could be self-defeating and the agenda for indigenous people should not be allowed to be confused with the agenda of other sub-national and tribal groups that constituted minorities within their respective countries.

[5] The study titled ´Legal and human rights of ethnic minorities in Bangladesh´ was conducted on 332 indigenous people of Jessore, Mymensingh, Chapainawabganj, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Pabna, Rangamati and Sylhet districts from April 2007 to March 2008.

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, according to The Daily Star.

[6] There was no reference of tribal or indigenous people in Bangladesh’s first constitution of 1972 where it was mentioned that Bangladesh would be the land of Bengalis.

[7] Bangladesh has ratified all major international human rights treaties and conventions. Bangladesh is legally bound to comply with these international human rights treaties. But it does not comply with them so far as the indigenous peoples are concerned. The situation of implementation of the provisions of the aforesaid treaties is far from good.

[8] Following the 29 August 2005 High Court verdict that declared the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Act, 1979 (Act 1 of 1979) 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.

[9] 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.

[10] In Bandarban region only, around 50,000 acres of property for contract, 118,000 acres of land for sheltered and reserved jungle and 71,711 acres of land for military purposes were grabbed.

[11] In plain lands around 2,000 indigenous families in 10 districts in the border regions in the northwest (Rajshahi-Dinajpur) have so far lost their 1,748 acres of ancestral land. On the other, during the 2009-2010, 216 families of indigenous peoples in plain lands have been attacked and their houses have been looted and destroyed by the influential groups of mainstream population with the intention to grab ancestral land of adivasis. In these attacks, 4 indigenous persons have been killed. Besides, 13 indigenous families have been evicted from their ancestral land and homesteads in 2009-10.

[12] During the period of 2009-2010, at least 7 Jummas including 5 women have been killed by Bengali settlers and security forces in CHT while 7 Jummas have been arrested. Al least 4 massive communal attacks on indigenous villages have been committed by Bengali settlers with the direct support of security forces and administration in CHT in which at least 511 houses of indigenous Jumma peoples have completely been burnt to ashes and 97 Jummas have been injured.

[13] On the other hand, in plain lands of the country, several attacks on indigenous villages have been made by the miscreants and land grabbers of mainstream population with the intention to occupy indigenous people’s land.
Also there were reports of discrimination based on religious belief or practice during the period of 2009-2010. State Minister for Home Shamsul Haq Tuku has given a broad hint of deploying special unit of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in the CHT in view of deteriorating law and order situation.

[14] During the period of 2009-2010, at least 5 Jumma women have been killed by the security forces and Bengali settlers while 14 indigenous Jumma women have been raped or molested. Besides, two Jumma women have been kidnapped by Bengalis. On the other, 4 indigenous women in plain lands have been killed after brutally raped while more 5 indigenous women raped or molested.

On the other hand, 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] 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] In some cases, it is totally dependent on the discretion of the authority of the concerned educational institutions. Newly formulated Education Policy has included a few recommendations on indigenous peoples. It mentioned in the aims and objectives of the education of chapter-I that one of the objectives of education is to develop cultures and languages of all small ethnic groups including indigenous peoples of the country.

[17] GoB resumed the project to set up a science and technology university in Rangamati district. However, local indigenous people have been opposing setting up university at their area arguing that it would uproot them once again from their ancestral land and create socio-political problem in this region.

[18] The implementation of the law is crucial for unhindered development of the country. For the peace to thrive and stability to continue in a developing country like Bangladesh, it is the call of the hour to press for all the good will at the disposal of the state to materialise everything that the Accord stands for. For good governance and rule of law to prevail in the problems, there is no option but to ensure that CHT Accord is honored and is given a fair play.

[19] 9,780 families out of 12,222 families of repatriated Jumma refugees are yet to be reinstated in their lands, homesteads and orchards and 40 villages of the returnees are still under the occupation of the settlers. More than ninety thousand internally displaced families have not yet been rehabilitated. Though grand alliance government reconstituted the CHT Accord Implementation Committee, but since its inception it could not come up with anything concrete to help the implementation process of the Accord.

[20] Peace negotiations were initiated after the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh in 1991, but little progress was made with the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, the widow of Ziaur Rahman and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Fresh rounds of talks began in 1996 with the newly-elected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of the Awami League, the daughter of Sheikh Mujib. The peace accord was finalised and formally signed on December 2, 1997. The agreement recognised the distinct ethnicity and special status of the tribes and indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and established a Regional Council consisting of the local government councils of the three districts of the Hill Tracts. The council was to be composed by men and women from the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Murang and Tanchangya tribes; the delegates would be elected by the district councils of the Hill Tracts. Elected for a five-year term, the council would have authority and responsibility to maintain law and order, social justice and tribal laws, oversee general administration, coordinate disaster relief and management, issue licenses for heavy industries and oversee other development projects. The central government would be required to consult the regional councils over all issues concerning the Hill Tracts. The agreement also provided for the setting up of a central Ministry of Tribal Affairs to be headed by a person of tribal ethnicity to administer the affairs concerning the Hill Tracts. The agreement also laid out plans for the return of land to displaced natives and an elaborate land survey to be held in the Hill Tracts.