Sunday, January 19, 2020 | ePaper

Indigenous people must get protection

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INDIGENOUS people's land, homestead and water bodies are being grabbed by some influential persons for establishing hotels, resorts and other business purposes. At the same time, the indigenous women are also being allegedly tortured by settlers. The issues of worse human rights violation and forcing them out of the CHT came up in a discussion on observing International Day of the World's Indigenous People held in the capital on Wednesday. Against the growing number of physical and sexual abuses in the hilly terrain, the apathy of the authorities concerned is really unaccepted.
Newspaper reports said last year 54 ethnic women and girl children were victims of physical and sexual harassment. Twenty-three of them were reportedly raped and gang-raped. Twelve were killed after rape. An analysis showed that 85 percent of the incidents were committed by non-tribes and 13 percent by tribal people. Experts said that sexual harassment is used as a tool to force tribal people out of their homes and villages with the intention of grabbing their land, which is what has been happening with plainland ethnic groups for decades.
Speakers said that women of the ethnic communities who grow up in a gender-equal environment, fall victims to rape and other sexual and physical torture against the backdrop of the State's apathy to ensure the rights of disadvantaged groups. They demanded that those involved in the crimes be given exemplary punishment and the victims be provided with treatment, compensation and legal aid.
The indigenous women have a plethora of contributions to sustainable resource management, food production, food security and tackling climate change -- done with the traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation -- remain unacknowledged.
Meanwhile, during the third-time review of human rights situation in the country, in the May 2018 Universal Periodic Review, the government received 251 recommendations but rejected four of them tied to minorities and ethnic communities. CHT Accord has not been fully implemented even 22 years after the government signed the agreement with Parbattya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity. In the meantime, violence against indigenous women and children has doubled since 2013.
We must say this kind of suffocating situation should not prevail in the hill districts for an uncertain period.

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