Tuesday, August 5, 2008

‘Resolve issues of indigenous people politically’

(The following is a reprint from Daily Star )

Advocate Sultana Kamal speaks at a roundtable at the Cirdap auditorium in the city yesterday. On her right is Prof HKS Arefeen and on her left is Shahana Hayat. Photo: STAR
Various issues of the indigenous people, including their land rights, have to be resolved politically, speakers at a roundtable said yesterday.

They also urged the government to form a 'special land commission' to deal with the problems of the indigenous people.

Research and Development Collective (RDC) and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Bangladesh jointly organised the roundtable titled 'Policy perspectives on land rights and the Adivasis,' at the Cirdap auditorium in the city.

Chaired by Prof HKS Arefeen, an anthropologist and chairperson of RDC, the meeting was addressed by Sultana Kamal, former adviser to the caretaker government, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, Dr Ahsan Ali, chairman, department of anthropology, Dhaka University, Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Prof Mesbah Kamal, general secretary of RDC, and Shahana Hayat, country director, VSO.

Gina Dizon, a VSO volunteer and advocacy adviser, presented the keynote paper at the roundtable.

Speaking as the chief guest, Sultana Kamal urged all to come forward to ensure human rights of the indigenous people.

She said vested quarters have grabbed the lands of indigenous people, but the previous governments did not take any action against them.

Prof Mesbah Kamal said the lands of indigenous people should not be treated as Khas lands as they are living on their lands from generations to generations although they don't have documents.

Sanjeeb Drong said the government should give recognition to the culture of the indigenous people in order to protect it for the sake of the country.

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