The Daily Star

Your Right To Know
Friday, February 12, 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Front Page

No indigenous people in Bangladesh!

Govt official tells UN

Government representatives at a United Nations special session have denied existence of indigenous people in Bangladesh.

They also protested a UN study report that says the government has not done enough to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord.

Iqbal Ahmed, first secretary of the Bangladesh Mission in New York, on Thursday made the comment during the session on the 1997 CHT peace deal signed during the then Awami League government to restore calm in the hills.

Lars Anders Baer, special rapporteur of UN, presented the study report titled “Status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.”

"Bangladesh does not have any indigenous population,” said Iqbal Ahmed following the presentation, according to a press release of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS).

“The accord has nothing to do with indigenous issues and therefore, the government of Bangladesh reiterates its position that the forum, which is mandated to deal with indigenous issues, need not discuss issues related to the CHT peace accord."

The UN report recommended, among others, developing “a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen the human rights records of [Bangladesh] army personnel prior to allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations."

While working on the report, Lars Anders met with the CHT civil administration and cabinet members including the foreign minister and CHT affairs minister, law minister and land minister.

He also submitted the report to the government but did not get any response, the press release added.

"We urge upon the UN forum to dedicate its valuable time to discuss issues related to millions of indigenous people all over the world and not waste time on issues politically concocted by some enthusiastic quarters with questionable motives," said Iqbal.

After his comment, government delegations from Denmark and Guatemala, representatives of international indigenous population and international human rights groups emphasised that Bangladesh has not done enough to implement the peace deal.

"Failure to implement the peace accord could cause renewed instability in the region. Denmark would like to encourage the government of Bangladesh to set up a roadmap with a timeframe to implement the remaining parts of the accord,” said Steen Hansen, representative of Danish government.

A high-level delegation led by state minister for CHT affairs Dipankar Talukdar cancelled the trip to New York at the last minute.

Share on


If you can't have peace with the hill people in CHT, you can't have peace in south-eastern part of Bangladesh including Chittagong. It is high time that some sort of autonomy is given to the ethnic population there.

: Syed Karim

Bangladesh does not have any indigenous population. People living in hill are tribal people and tribal people does not means indigenous.

: Anonymous


  • S Chakma
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 08:49 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    This kind of attitude would bring only disaster. It looks like the daggers are already drawn from the government side.

  • Zerosopher
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 07:47 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    Just because some people are still living in primitive life style in remote areas does qualify them as indigenous people.

    In Bangladesh in fact Bangladeshi's are indigenous people. That's how the name of the country comes from; from the indigenous people living in this place.

  • M F Islam
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 06:50 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    Modern Bangladeshi population has evolved from the mixing of people of different origins in the past thousands of years. Only a few exists in the northern region but they have migrated to the land in a very recent time from the highlands of India. The blood group of majority of people in Bangladesh is indicating the mongoloid influence in the past.

  • Mong Sano Marma
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 01:06 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh diplomat's comment is very regrettable and unfortunate. No words should appropriately describe how I felt when I was reading this report. This is a parody of truth and complete lie of Bangladesh part. I am a proud Bangladeshi and I am also a proud member of the Chittagong Hill Track indigenous population. This is a shame for all Bangladeshis who cherish the diversity and inclusion of all.

  • Abu Zubair
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 06:34 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    I think Bangladesh government has rightly pointed out that there are no indigenous people in Bangladesh. Some tribal people, left political parties and civil society members are demanding it for their own advantage; they have no historical or anthropological probe. The Chakmas and other tribes of CHT came from Burma while Shautal of North-Bengal came from Bihar.

  • Peter Nomadski
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 10:55 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    The Bengali people should learn their own history before making any comment on CHT and the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 10:42 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh is not like Germany. Bengali is the indigenous population of Bangladesh.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011 12:47 PM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    The future of hill tract way is unrest. This situation is created by some missionaries and neighbor country. I strongly avoid the name indigenous except tribal.

  • Alamgir Hussain
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 11:38 AM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    Never thought, even with all the corruption and skulduggery that goes on in my native land that I would ever be ashamed of being Bangladeshi till I read the comments of our UN representative and the ignoramuses who have in written in to support him.

  • Dr. S.M.Jalil
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 01:00 PM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    What are indigenous people? If one is indigenous, the other one if is not, then what? Is that one exotic? Is that one coming from abroad? They are either indigenous or exotic but both of them are human being. So as human being, no one is different from the other. They are the same human being as others and biologically bearing the same name (Homo sapiens) and characteristics. They acquire some environmentally different characteristics under different environmental conditions such as desert, forest, coast and hills. Education is one medium through which human being develop them into one common cultural society and none is refrain from availing such an approach. But in fact, poverty, the curse of life is the barrier for all of us for developing ourselves towards a common goal, the prosperous life.

  • Malay Mridha
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 02:12 PM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    The definition of 'indigenous people' is complex. However, it can be said that tribal people in CHT are indigenous people since they have distinct cultural and linguistic characteristics and are different from the dominant culture of the nation-state. In fact Bengalees are intruders in CHT. Bengalees are indigenous people in the rest of Bangladesh but not in CHT.

  • Ataur Rahman
    Saturday, May 28, 2011 02:58 PM GMT+06:00 (246 weeks ago)

    The Bangladesh delegate was absolutely correct. The tribal of Bangladesh were migrants from far east, mostly from China and Tibet and therefore cannot be called indigenous. The media and overzealous civil society in our country have given them to believe that they are so.

    India also does not recognize any indigenous people in their country although their tribal population is vastly more than ours.





The Daily Star

©, 1991-2016. All Rights Reserved