An official definition of “indigenous” has not been adopted by the UN system due to the diversity of the world’s indigenous peoples-illustrate and explain

There are a likely 370 million indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries worldwide. They represent a rich diversity of cultures, religions, traditions, languages. The health condition of these peoples varies significantly from that of non-indigenous population groups in countries all over the world.


In Bangladesh it is said that tribal people in Chittagong are indigenous people since they have distinct cultural and linguistic characteristics and are different from the dominant culture of the nation-state. They live in hill track areas like Lama,Ruma,Alikadam & Thanchi upazilas near Chimbuk Mountain of bandarban district. Their historical background and characteristics, economic activities, social structure and their behavior, religious beliefs & festivals and their way of living make them typical. “Mru” is one of the most famous types of aborigine in Bangladesh. The main profession of Mru is Jhum cultivation & lumbering wood from the jungle. And they eat some weird stuffs like dog, tiger, pig etc. as they are so poor.

Mostly their living style and attitudes are different from our culture. Their food habits, religion, cloths and style, hobbies and music, dancing style and festivals everything is different from ours.

They still raise their voice and claim Government for their rights. Mostly in Bandarban area is not a safe place for us because anytime they catch or kidnap normal people or visitors and want a huge amount of money or some rights from Government. So we can say they do crimes and for them we cannot use most of the areas in Chittagong. Government keeps most of the areas restricted.1

  1. Though the word Pahari’ is a local term in Bangal, indicating the ethnic minority living in CHT, but it does not express the identity of the ethnic group. Power relation is important in understanding how individual ` tribal’ peoples may have multiple subjective or identities. During the colonial era the term ` hill men’ was used to refer to he ` tribal’ people living in the Hill Tracts. In other words, it was deemed necessary for the British colonizer to classify who lived in the `Hills’ and who lived in the plains ( Ahmed 1994). For details see Tripur (1992)

                                                                               The Legal area

The tribal people living in Chittagong Hill Tracts are “ethnic minorities” and they should not be called “indigenous” in the section, the government said yesterday in clearing what it said some current misconceptions about their identity.

According to an article of The Daily Star the idea became clear to us. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said that “Bangladesh is concerned over attempts by some quarters at home and abroad to identify the ethnic minority groups as indigenous people in the CHT region.”

Distinguish between relevant and irrelevant facts

Most of us think that indigenous people are often amongst the most disadvantaged people in the world. Government officials in Bangladesh have come to a cross roads with the latest move by the current government to possibly remove the word “indigenous” from official documents in relation to some of the poorest and most marginalized ethnic groups in the country.

The overall justice system in Bangladesh has long been seen to provide a weakening service to the population in general and for indigenous people in particular. Most of the approaches which have been adopted to date to enhance access to fairness, whether universal, institutional, social or educational, have determined the rights of indigenous peoples, which been not enough in their outreach and largely insensitive to questions of cultural individuality. Even in the universities or in job sectors they have their own quota and they are taking advantages also.

Generally, in the CHT Peace Accord it the CHT ethnic minorities have been categorized them as “Tribal” and not “indigenous peoples.”

  1. The indigenous people indicates those Bangalis who live in CHT during British period.
  2. History of community settlement was colleted in different research completed by Nasreen,Z entitled `Cultural discourse of development:  A Study on  a Local Society of CHT’  a thesis was prepared as a requirements of M.A degree in Hiroshima University, Japan.

Legal Principles & Solutions

The main problems faced by indigenous peoples as they seek access to formal and traditional justice systems. They are facing problems of accessing the land and forests, getting proper right to life and liberty and personal security, their proper right to gender justice and finally their right to participation and representation.

The solution is Government should get their points and discuss with them to come up in a solution. Their demands have centered on major issues of land and forest rights and the violation of basic human rights, such as the right to life and property and, in the case of the CHT, has involved the demand for implementation of the Accord. Only if they become the citizen of the country they can appeal for their basic rights. So they also should be generous to the people of our country

International human rights framework

According to the international human rights system Bangladesh is bound to respect fundamental human rights, including those of indigenous peoples. They have to follow the rules and treat them like that. No one can ignore the Human Rights Law. It is strictly followed all over the world. The laws are about the right of indigenous peoples to self determination and to the related rights of self-development and self-governance.

In international law as well as other disciplines, the thought that indigenous people are entitled to a special set of rights has become clearly factual and universal.

  1. Though Chowdhuryin his article ` Uprooted Twice: Refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts ‘ highlighted the displacement of hill people, in his writings it was very difficult to find the situation of Bangali people who were also suffered by Dam project.
  2. The Current Status of Indigenous Peoples

Most of the CHT peoples migrated into the area from the south between the 16th  and 19th  centuries although the arrival of Bengali settlers required many CHT peoples to move away further into the hills. During the British colonial period was a less disturbing time for the CHT indigenous peoples and saw the circulation of laws compromising a measure of self-sufficiency, most highly reflected by the promulgation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts system of 1900. These measures confirmed that in internal matters the CHT was largely self-governing within the recognized structure; and they delineated categories of land, government land, specifically excluding non-indigenous peoples from settling in tribal areas. The findings of a recent socio-economic baseline survey conducted by a nongovernmental Organization in the CHT showed the acutely disadvantaged situation of the population of the CHT, and particularly that of the indigenous peoples, a compared with the rest of the country. The socio-economic status of most indigenous communities in the plains, particularly in the north-western Rajshahi administrative divisions, is known generally to be even not as good as than that of indigenous communities in the CHT.

The indigenous people are struggling from years. Not withstanding the supplies of the Peace agreement, the Indigenous peoples of CHT continue to bear from brutality, discrimination and exclusion. In 2005, a British High Commission mission to Bangladesh visited the section and concluded that the Land Disputes Resolution Commission, that was set up to facilitate the effective achievement of the Peace Accorded was failing in its operations. The military retains a huge presence which has strained the fragile peace and led to violations of Accord. On 12 July 2006, the army tortured and brutalized a shopkeeper in Mahalchari. Similarly there are reports of assaults and rape of indigenous women by the settlers or by the army men. A woman from Marma tribe was gang-raped on 30 June 2006. The issues relating to land rights of the CHT peoples remain unresolved and indigenous people continue to face more land-grabbing by the settler-population.

  1. Interview, Tarun Battacharjee, Khagrachari
  2. Oral Statement of the leader of UPDF


After all the discussion, we can recognize that the indigenous peoples are neglected. They are not getting their basic human rights and justice from the Government of Bangladesh. For this reason Government and as well as the citizens are facing problems of accepting them. They are demanding for their rights but Government rejects. According to the International law, Government is bound to follow that. Though some historically and currently powerful countries have been opposed to various rights and provisions for indigenous peoples, because of the implications to their territory, or because it would tacitly recognize they have been involved in major injustices during periods of colonialism and imperialism. Providing the facilities to them is the main problem to regain some lost land, for example, would be politically explosive.


  1. 1.      The Effects of Nationalism : The Case of Chittagong Hill Tracts , Unpublished M.A  term Paper, Spring, Social Anthropology, University of Sussex.

Alam, A (2003)

  1. 2.      Wikipedia
  2. 3.    Bangladesher Dakjinposhimancholer Adibasi in Mesbah Kamal and Arifatul Kibria Edited ‘ Viponno Vumijo, Research and Development Collective, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Alam, N.S.M. and Akhtar R. (1990)
  3. 4.    ‘Foreign Aid and Militarization in the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ in Bhaumik , S Meghna , G and Sabyasachi, B.R.C ( ed) Living on the Edge. South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Calcutta Research Group. Badsha, F, H (2003)
  4. 5.    ‘Colonial Foundation of Pahari  Ethnicity’,  The Journal of Social  Studies , No-58-, Center for Social Studies, University of Dhaka, p-2, 1999 (a).
  5. 6.    ‘Tribal Issues and National Integration: The Chittagong Hill Tracts Case’ in Mahmud Shah Qureshi  edited Tribal Cultures in Bangladesh , Rajshahi: Institute of Bangladesh studies. Tripura, P (1992)
  6. 7.    ‘The Population Transfer Programme of 1980s and the land Rights of the Indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bhaumik , S Meghna , G and Sabyasachi, B.R.C ( ed) Living on the Edge. South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Calcutta Research Group.