Courtesy: New Age, Dhaka, Metropolitan, Oct 14, 2010
Zaman Monir . Sylhet
Speakers at a programme in Sylhet on Wednesday said constitutional recognition was the citizen right of the ethnic minority people in the country.
It is not a matter of sympathy for the ethic minority groups, rather it is their right as they have been living in the country for centuries and have contributions to all the achievements of the nation, including the country’s liberation, they said.
The discussants made the comment at a programme styled ‘Land Dispute Related Regional Workshop for Indigenous People’ held by the Sylhet Divisional Adibasi Steering Committee in association with non-governmental organisation Oxfam Bangladesh in the conference room of the Sylhet City Corporation at noon.
They urged the government to take effective steps for giving constitutional recognition to the country’s ethnic minority groups and include the topic in the constitution during its reprint.
They expressed grave concern over issues of evicting minority families by different public and private organisations from their ancestral homesteads as well as grabbing their lands, where they have been cultivating for generation after generation, by local influential quarters at different parts of the Sylhet division.
The government should take immediate initiative to stop such harassment and to recognise their ownership of the lands they are using for centuries, the speakers said, adding that the ethnic minority people also have the right to get the ownership of land like the country’s mainstream population.
Addressing the programme as chief guest, lawmaker for Sylhet 4 constituency Imran Ahmed said he would take the issues out to the policy making level of the government so that the demands can be considered as soon as possible.
‘We should emphasise the protection of ethnic minority people in order to protect the natural balance and diversity as the country’s indigenous people are fond of nature and they always want to keep in touch with nature,’ the chief guest said.
Local lawmaker Syeda Jebunnessa Haque, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology’s anthropology department chief Abdul Awal Bishwas and anthropology assistant professor Tahmida Islam, sadar upazila nirbahi officer Enamul Habib and assistant commissioner (land) Mahbubul Alam, Bangladesh Environ Movement’s joint general secretary Sharif Jamil and Oxfam Bangladesh’s programme officer Alek Jesum attended the workshop as special guests.
More than one hundred representatives, both male and female, of the ethnic minority groups from Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts in the division participated in the programme. Advocate Nizam Uddin, journalist Sangram Singha and Moniruzzaman Monir, Surma Valley’s Tea Garden Labourers Union president Sheebash Mahali, Manipuri Sahitya Parishad president AK Sheram, Laksmipur Catholic Mission’s director Father Josef Gomez and Babita Sangma, among others, addressed the programme.
Divisional Adibasi Steering committee president Gauranga Pathra presided over the programme.