In a leaked memorandum, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives demands that no government support is given on the World Indigenous Day August 9th, 2012, and that instead “steps might be taken [around that day] to publicise/broadcast in the print and electronic media that there are no indigenous people in Bangladesh”.
The document has been sent to all district Commissioners with a copy directly to the Home Ministry. It is a clear directive to ensure that the Government policy, denying indigenous peoples’ existence in Bangladesh, is being upheld.
The commitment of the implementation of the CHT accord was one of Sheik Hasina’s major election promises in 2008. Unfortunately, since she gained power, her government has taken several steps threatening the identity and rights of its indigenous people, including the official decision that there are “no indigenous peoples in Bangladesh”. This position is strongly being rejected by national human rights organisations and civil society, including the CHT Commission, as a deception to escape certain responsibilities towards these people.
The Chairperson of national organisation Kapaeeng Foundation Mr. Rabindranath Soren, has protested against the letter and demanded it to be withdrawn immediately.