No indigenous people in country Says law minister

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said the minority groups living in hilly areas and the plains in the country are not indigenous people and they will be recognised in the charter as tribes or ethnic minorities.

In the light of ILO Convention-169 it seems they are not indigenous people, he said. Rather they bear the characteristics of tribal communities.

Members of civil society and indigenous communities widely differ on the issue. Recognition of Adivasi people in the constitution as indigenous people has been their demand for long.

The Daily Star has checked www.ilo.org, website of International Labour Organisation.

On the website, the ILO Convention-169 says elements of indigenous peoples include: traditional life styles, culture and way of life different from the other segments of the national population, own social organisation and political institutions, and living in historical continuity in a certain area or before others “invaded” or came to the area.

Also last month, the government representatives at a special session of United Nations denied existence of indigenous people in Bangladesh.

The minister made the statement at the opening of a seminar on Expansion of Dhaka and Environment organised by Bangladesh Geographical Society and its 53rd annual general meeting at the Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University, said a news release.

He urged the experts to cooperate with the government in preventing unplanned urbanisation and destruction of farmlands.

BGS President AQM Mahbub chaired the meeting while DU Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Harun-or-Rashid, among others, spoke.

~ The Daily Star

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