It is only a matter of time before ethnic minorities are wiped out from the country, fears Bapa President Sultana Kamal
The security of ethnic groups cannot be jeopardized on the pretext of social forestry, rights activists have said.
From a virtual press conference held on Sunday, they also urged the government to ensure that minorities can live safely in their respective territories.
The eco-activists voiced their concerns and demands protesting against the deforestation on the pretext of social forestry, attacks on Khasia people and the conspiracy to evict them.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Nijera Kori, and Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) jointly organized the program.
Stating that the persecution of tribal groups is not a new issue, Bapa President Sultana Kamal said it is only a matter of time before ethnic minorities are wiped out from the country.
It is a gross violation of human rights if a certain community has to live in terror in a civilized nation, she said, before demanding safety for all ethnic minorities.
Bapa General Secretary Sharif Jamil said the indigenous people of Bangladesh — more than three million in number — represent the country’s ethnic diversity.
“In order to evict the Khasia people from their villages, [some miscreants] have been cutting down trees in the forests, filing false cases, destroying betel trees [Khasia people’s livelihood] and obstructing their movement,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Sanjib Drang, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, demanded that the government issue a written document stating that no ethnic people will be displaced until the formation of a land commission for the indigenous people.
Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir, BELA Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan, ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda and former justice of the Appellate Division Nizamul Haque Nasim, among others, spoke at the press conference.