Submitted by: Kapaeeng Foundation
The participants of an impact study seminar in Barisal on Rakhain community stressed on the constitutional recognition of them with separate socio-cultural-ethnic identity for their survival in Barisal coastal region.
The daylong seminar was organized on Sunday by Barisal regional office of Caritas Bangladesh at its auditorium under the three-year long "Integ-rated Community Development Project (ICDP)" Rishi-Khulna and Rakhanine-Barisal with funding support from Scours Catholic-Caritas France and the European Commission since February 2007.
The study looked into the socio-economic conditions, access to natural resources and government organisations, land rights, food security and Medicare facilities of the Rakhain people, said the organisers. They analysed the crises of the indigenous people in the context of colonial history, impact of globalisation, constitutional recognition of Rakhine community, ignorance and insensibility of the leaders of the community and mainstream, identity crisis, lack of endeavour to reserve the age-old customs and traditions, culture and language and conflict with dominating cultures.
The people of the Rakhine indigenous groups are being undermined gradually as the tribe of the region fighting against dire poverty, bad communication, inner-tribal conflict, lack of education, healthcare, housing, sanitation facilities, harassment and deprivation by greedy land grabbers and administration.
The programme was presided over by Francis Bepary, Caritas Barisal regional director and Khalid Madmud Zaki, personal secretary of Barisal City Corporation Mayor, as the chief guest, Father Nicolas Baroi, Catholic priest, Abdul Bark Molla, Kalapara Latachapli union parishad chairman, Mong Tenthan, Kalapara Rakhain community leader, Anisur Rahman Swapan, New Age Correspondent and Barisal Metropolitan Journalist Union, as special guests, Mezbahuddin Mannu, daily Janakantha Correspondent Kalapara, Khein Maung Hla, Rakhain community leader Taltali addressed the programme.
Myenthen Promila, ICDP R and R project in charge presented the audio-visual presentation for the participants representing Rakhain community, local government, mass media, government and non-government organizations.
Except some of the non-governmental organisations, the indigenous people have little representation either in government, local government or in semi-government organisations, the discussants said.
They also criticised the conventional trend of showcasing indigenous culture in national programmes.
The Rakhain people should be given due recognition rather than making them tourist attractive showpieces, they said. Immediate formation of land commission to stop intrusion into the Rakhine adivasis ancestral lands and harassment through filing of false cases by unscrupulous people need urgently, they called.