BY DEVASISH ROY FOR DEBATES INDÍGENAS.
With almost 24 years passed since the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord, its lack of implementation has reached alarming levels and human rights violations persist. In addition to the ongoing deployment of military and paramilitary forces, land grabbing of Indigenous territories continues apace. Communities have no possibility of complaining about non-compliance because the agreement does not have the status of an international treaty.
Photo: Devasish Roy
Bangladesh is a country of cultural and ethnic diversity, with over 54 Indigenous Peoples speaking at least 35 languages, along with the majority Bengali population. According to the 2011 census, the country’s Indigenous population numbers approximately 1,586,141 which represents 1.8% of the total population. Indigenous Peoples in the country, however, claim that their population stands at some 5 million. The majority of the Indigenous population live in the plains districts of the country, and the rest in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
The state does not recognise Indigenous Peoples as “Indigenous”. Nevertheless, since the 15th amendment of the constitution, adopted in 2011, people with distinct ethnic identities beyond the Bengali population are now mentioned. Yet only cultural aspects are mentioned, whereas major issues related to Indigenous Peoples’ economic and political rights, not least their land rights, remain ignored.
Villagers of the Mro community face eviction threats from eight of their ancestral villages at Chimbuk hill in Bandarban district in the Chittagong Hill District, Bangladesh due to the construction of a five-star hotel in their ancestral lands.