Vol. 5 Num 1141 Tue. August 14, 2007  

Call for united movement to protect indigenous people

Speakers at a national seminar yesterday said the rights of indigenous people would not be established until their philosophy, culture, wisdom and traditional knowledge are duely appreciated by the majority section of the country's population.

They said the ethnic communities are yet to get constitutional recognition, their languages are still neglected and they are projected negatively making them more marginalised.

The seminar titled 'Culture as livelihood, Culture as struggle' was jointly organised by Bangladeshi Adibashi Forum and Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) at Cirdap auditorium in the city.

In the first session of the seminar, findings of three researches conducted among various adivashi communities Garos, Mundas, Bunos, Santals, Khumis, Monipuris, Bawms and Chakmas were presented.

The researchers narrated how the people of ethnic community are neglected, their culture denigrated, land grabbed and language ignored.

Though the Santals had significant contributions to different movements including anti-British, Tevaga and Liberation War, they are still fighting for their rights, they added.

The researchers said Monipuri culture, which is popular around the world, is now on the verge of extinction as no initiative has been taken to promote the culture.

In the second session, three more research findings were presented where the researchers discussed the life and culture of Bunos and Mundas.

Bangladesh Adibashi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong, in his research, said life and culture of indigenous people is not properly projected in textbooks.

Quoting some lines from the textbooks, he said negative presentation of indigenous people also creates inferiority complex among the indigenous children.

Sanjeeb demanded inclusion of indigenous writers or experts before writing about them in textbooks.

The speakers said life and culture of indigenous people is now at stake due to ignorance and carelessness of successive governments.

They said there are many marginalised indigenous communities in the country whose voice cannot be heard due to lack of leadership.

They called upon all to make concerted efforts and launch a united movement comprising the Bangalees and indigenous people to protect the rights of ethnic community.

Taslimur Rahman and Selina Hossain chaired the sessions while RIB Chairman Shamsul Bari, Prof Mesbah Kamal, Rehnuma Ahmed and many indigenous activists also spoke at the seminar.

Taslimur Rahman speaks at a seminar at the Cirdap auditorium in the city yesterday. On his left is Sanjeeb Drong and on his right is RIB Chairman Shamsul Bari. PHOTO: STAR