United Nations declared International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples today. This day is commemorated in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982. With the theme “Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement”, about 37 crore indigenous people in 70 countries of the world are celebrating the day this year. In Bangladesh, the state-recognized minor ethnic groups have arranged programs in different parts of the country including the capital and Chittagong Hill Tracts.
With regard to the importance of indigenous people, the year 1993 was declared as `International Year of the World`s Indigenous Peoples`. The International Decade of the World`s Indigenous Peoples (1995-2004) was proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/163 of 21 December 1993 and it was to give attention to indigenous concerns. Apart from this, on 9th August 1995, `International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples` was announced.
According to indigenous leaders, there are about 30 lac indigenous people of 46 different ethnicities in Bangladesh. Apart from the role in our history, they also have made great contribution in our Great Liberation War in terms of culture and tradition.
Indigenous people are officially identified as “ethnic minorities” in Bangladesh. In the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the government referred to indigenous people as `tribe, ethnic group, minor ethnicity or community`. On the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a request was made by the government to avoid using the term `indigenous` in various programs, discussions and talk shows. However, the leaders of indigenous forum Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Santu Larma) and other minor ethnic groups leaders have demanded to bring the word `indigenous` back into the constitution.
According to a UN report, 37 crore indigenous people live in 70 countries of the world. Most of them are still being discriminated in education, health and economic sectors. Creating awareness about their fundamental and human rights, language and culture among the states, societies and its people and getting support from them is the main objective of observing this day.
That is to say, wishing the success of this day and giving full support should be the character of any humane and conscious person of the state.