Bangladesh Adivasi Forum president Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, better known as Santu Larma, on Saturday said that ethnic minorities of the country were now passing toughest time in comparison with the past in absence constitutional recognition, land grabbing and attacks on them.
At a press conference of the forum at a hotel in Dhaka, Santu said that ethnic minorities become minority population in areas where they were majority because of planned transfer of population. The ethnic minorities are losing the right on their lands, he said.
The forum organised the press conference to announce programmes to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples to be observed on August 9.
‘Comparing with the past, indigenous peoples of the country are now passing toughest time’ said Santu, also the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti president.
‘Arson attack on Santal community, communal attack and setting fire on their houses at Langudu, grabbing of Khasia land, declaration of Madhupur Forest as reserve forest, endless discrimination to Rakhines of coastal belt, and continued repression on indigenous peoples, proves that they are not in good condition,’ said Santu.
‘The incumbent government is claiming that huge development is taking place but in reality indigenous people, marginalized people, the working class and tea labours are sinking in the wave development flood,’ he said.
Recent landslide in Chittagong Hill Tracts area has killed 131 people, around 20,000 families has incurred losses but there no effective response from government, he said.
About 15,000 people starving in Sajek in want of food but government is indifferent, he added.
Government has put the process of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord into deep freeze and jumma people are still deprived of constitutional recognition as indigenous, said Santu who inked the accord with the government on December 2, 1997.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud, Dhaka University history professor Mejbah Kamal and Institute for Environment and Development executive director Numan Ahmed Khan, Oikya Nap president Pankaj Bhattacharya, Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong also spoke at the press conference.
The Forum will hold a rally at Central Shahid Minaar on August 9, hold several discussion and seminar in between August 6 to 11 in the capital and other districts.
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