Dhaka: Rakhaing in Bangladesh on Sunday demanded constitutional recognition in Bangladesh in a seminar entitled, "An impact study seminar in Barisal on Rakhaing Community."
The day-long seminar was organized by the Barisal regional office of Caritas Bangladesh, and was held at its auditorium as part of the three-year long Integrated Community Development Project Rishi Khulna and Rakhaing-Barisal, with funding support from Scours Catholic-Caritas France and the European Commission since February 2007.
The participants in the impact study in Barisal stressed the importance of constitutional recognition of their community's separate socio-cultural and ethnic identity for their survival in the Barisal coastal region of Bangladesh.
The study looked into the socio-economic conditions, access to natural resources and government organizations, land rights, food security, and medical facilities of the Rakhaing people, said the organizers.
They analyzed the crisis of the indigenous people in the context of colonial history, the impact of globalization, constitutional recognition of the Rakhaing community, ignorance and insensitivity of community and outside leaders, identity crises, lack of endeavor to reserve customs and traditions, the culture and language, and conflict with dominating cultures.
The people of the Rakhaing indigenous groups are being gradually undermined by dire poverty, bad communications, inter-tribal conflict, lack of education, healthcare, housing, sanitation facilities, and harassment and deprivation by land grabbers and the administration.
Myenthen Promila, project in-charge, presented the audio-visual presentation for participants representing the Rakhaing community, local government, mass media, government, and non-governmental organizations.
Besides some of the non-governmental organizations, the indigenous people have little representation in local or regional governments, or in quasi-governmental organizations, the discussants said. They also criticized the conventional trend of showcasing indigenous cultures in national programs.
The Rakhaing people should be given due recognition rather than making them tourist showpieces, they added. They also called for the immediate formation of a land commission to stop intrusion into the Rakhaing Adivasis ancestral lands and to stop harassment through the filing of false cases by unscrupulous people.
The program was presided over by Francis Bepary, Caritas Barisal regional director and Khalid Madmud Zaki, personal secretary of Barisal City Corporation Mayor, as the chief guest, Father Nicolas Baroi, Catholic priest, Abdul Bark Molla, Kalapara Latachapli union parishad chairman, Mong Tenthan, Kalapara Rakhain community leader, Anisur Rahman Swapan, New Age Correspondent and Barisal Metropolitan Journalist Union, as special guests, Mezbahuddin Mannu, daily Janakantha Correspondent Kalapara, Khein Maung Hla, Rakhaing community leader Taltali addressed the programme.
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