Joint Submission on the Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh
This is a joint submission to the UPR working group of the Human Rights Council by the “Coalition of Indigenous Peoples Organizations on UPR”, formed in June 2012 by 30 Indigenous Peoples Organisations (IPOs) working on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh.
The methodology of the report consists of regular monitoring and documentation of Indigenous Peoples' human rights situation by the Coalition members, including fact-finding missions and interviews. Extensive consultations have been held, including among the Coalition members, other IPOs, traditional and community leaders, and mainstream civil society members, for validating the information and analysis used in the report.
The submission covers major issues affecting the human rights of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh – laws and policies, land rights, civil and political rights, social, cultural, and economic rights, women’s rights, and the implementation status of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997 for the period, 2018-2023.
There are more than 54 Indigenous groups in Bangladesh. According to the 2021 census, the Indigenous population of Bangladesh is 1,650,159. But according to Indigenous Peoples, the number is more than 3.0 million, thus, the population of Indigenous Peoples is under-represented as they have not properly enumerated during the census.
Bangladesh does not recognize Indigenous Peoples as "Indigenous" ("Adivasis" in Bangla); rather, the constitution of Bangladesh mentions them as tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities, and only mentions ‘to protect and develop their unique local culture and tradition’. There is no mention of Indigenous Peoples’ self-governance, political participation, and rights to land, territory and natural resources. On the other hand, constitutionally, "Bengali" identity has been imposed on the Indigenous Peoples, and the constitution stipulates that “the people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation”.