On 20 December 2009 a national roundtable on ‘ILO Convention 169’ and ‘Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament’ was organized by ILO and RDC at Spectra Conventional Centre, Gulshan, Dhaka. The objective of the roundtable was to create awareness on ILO C169 and advocate Parliamentary role on Indigenous Peoples issues.
The first session of the roundtable with theme “Ratification of ILO C169: Way Forward” had started at 10 o’clock chaired by Prof. H K S Arefin. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar, State Minister of the CHT Affairs Ministry was present as Chief Guest and Mr. Masud Ahmed, Secretary In-charge of CHT Affairs Ministry was present as special guest at the first session. Country Director of ILO Ms Panudda Boonpala had delivered welcome speech.
Mr. Coen Kompier, Senior Labour Standard Specialist, ILO Delhi office had presented the overview of ILO 169. Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma, Member of CHT Regional Council and Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum spoke as panel discussant.
State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukdar reiterated government commitment to implement the CHT Accord. He expressed his optimism that present government would ratify the ILO Convention 169 as most of the rights contained in the ILO 169 were recognized by the CHT Accord. He expressed his support to form a parliamentarian caucus for indigenous peoples’ causes. He said that CHT Affairs Ministry already sent a letter to correct the derogatory matters regarding indigenous peoples from textbooks. He also informed that the government had already started the process of forming a separate land commission to settle the land disputes of the plain land indigenous people.
The Second Session with theme “Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh National Parliament” was held at 01 o’clock chaired by Dr. Harun-Ur-Rashid, Pro Vice Chancellor and moderated by Mr. Hasanul Haque Inu, MP. Prof. Mesbah Kamal had presented the Key note Paper on `Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh Parliament’,
Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura MP, Chairman, Task Force for Rehabilitation of Jumma Refugee and IPD’s was present as Chief Guest at the second session and Mr. Shawkat Momen Shahjahan MP from Tangail, Ms Rubi Rahman MP, Rawshan Jahan MP and Shanaullah Lovelu were present as special guest.
Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura said that it was good initiative to form a parliamentary caucus for indigenous peoples’ causes. He said that Prime Minister would support if she was convinced the right things. He was optimistic to implement the CHT Accord by the present government within rest 4 year tenure. However, he expressed his concerns over anti-accord activities of extreme nationalist and communal groups in the banner of Sama Odhikar Andolon.
MPs who attended roundtable as special guest supported the initiative of ILO and RDC to form a parliamentary caucus. They expressed their commitment to work for the causes of indigenous peoples.
Finally national roundtable formed a committee with following Parliament Members to works for forming a ‘Parliament CAUCUS for indigenous peoples’ causes’ within next parliament session-
(a) 5 MPs of indigenous peoples;
(b) 3 MPs from Awami League (namely Shawkat Momen Shahjahan, Rubi Rahaman and Rawshan Jahan;
(c) 2 MPs from Workers’ Party (Rashed Khan Menon and Fazle Hossain Badshah;
(d) 1 MP from Jatiya Samastantrik Dal (Hasanul Haque Inu).
The roundtable also formed a 3-member technical support committee with Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma, Mr. Mesbah Kamal and Mr. Sanjeeb Drong.
The roundtable was ended with vote of thanks by Abhilash Tripura, National Coordinator, Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of ILO Dhaka office.