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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ministry of LGRD issues a racial letter against indigenous peoples

Submitted by: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 11 March 2012 Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MoLGRD) issued a racial letter against adivasi (indigenous) peoples. Indigenous leaders protested against this racial letter and termed it as fanatic act of the government. They demanded to withdraw it immediately.

The letter titling “regarding celebration of indigenous peoples day” signed by deputy secretary of the MoLGRD Dr. Md. Sarowar Bari was sent to all deputy commissioners (DCs) of the country on 11 March 2012. The DCs forwarded to Upazila Executive Officers (UNOs) and UNOs forwarded to all Union Parishads (UPs), the lower administrative unit of the country.

The letter also stated that in April 2010 a bill named “Small Ethnic Group Cultural Institute Bill 2009 was passed in the parliament. Recently these ethnic communities were termed as small ethnic group in the constitution. On 26 July 2011 foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni briefed diplomats and development associates that the tribal people of the CHT are not indigenous peoples. The letter also stated that like previous years, this year indigenous peoples are going to undertake several programmes on the occasion of the next indigenous peoples day on 9 August. They may organise adivasi fair, cultural show, seminar, rally and other programmes at different places of the country including Shaheed Minar, Cox’s Bazar and even on electronic media on the occasion of next indigenous peoples day. The national dailies may publish supplementary issue on this occasion. With this backdrop, MoLGRD, in said letter, asked all the dep! uty commissioners-

(a) to issue necessary direction that no important person of the government delivers any speech to be contradictory to the government policy on indigenous peoples during the indigenous peoples day.

(b) to monitor intensively that no support from government side is granted to any programme of the indigenous peoples day.

(c) to take necessary measure to propagate that there is no indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, by collecting necessary information and evidences in this regard.

(d) the month of August is a mourning month, so unnecessary delighting ceremony should not be organised during this month.

Organising secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Shakti Pada Tripura said that it is nothing but a racial act of the government. Every citizen has rights to liberty, freedom of assembly and association. Constitution of the country stipulates that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste etc. So, the letter issued by MoLGRD is direct violation of the fundamental rights of the constitution. He also added that Awami League-led grand alliance government is acting more fanatic than the communal and fundamentalist groups.

Chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation and president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Mr. Rabindranath Soren protested against the letter of MoLGRD and demanded to withdraw it immediately.