Introduction Bangladesh was born as a nation state in 1971. The predominant popular narrative of Bangladeshi independence, which we have repeatedly encountered whether talking with members of the elite or ordinary people, bears evidence of a homogenous ‘Bangalee’ nationalism and a deep ambivalence toward the country’s indigenous people, or Adivasi. Here the term Indigenous or ‘tribal’ has no clear definition. This should come as no surprise, since the very way the UN operates in negotiations promotes agreements often containing vague wording.
Furthermore, the international indigenous and other human rights movements have been changing over the last decades, and this is reflected in some changes in appropriate legal and political terminology. For more than two decades, ‘indigenous peoples’ issues and right have been guided by UN “working definition”. In Bangladesh indigenous movements have been taking root since 1993 beginning with the celebration of international year of indigenous people. (Khairul Chowdhury: 2008; p-57-61) Objective of the study.
This study examined the process of group identity formation among the indigenous peoples in Sylhet, Bangladesh, and the historical contingencies and dynamics associated with them. Methodology of the study The Research is done based on primary and secondary sources. The primary data assembled from various key resource persons and the indigenous forum as well as some NGOs those are working for the indigenous peoples through the method of interview. Here interview schedule is used to accumulate data from the resource persons.
Secondary data is gathered from various journals, related book, articles, government documents, research reports by local and international aid agencies reports published by human rights groups, NGOs, seminars, and workshop papers, souvenirs, and local and national print media. The Abstract of the Study The continuation of indigenous communities around the world puts upon distinct characters regarding their identity and they way of life. Bangladesh is noted for the ethnic homogeneity of its population.
There are lots of indigenous peoples settled difference places in Bangladesh before it’s born. They live here with the majority people to sustain their distinct culture, language, literature, social system, traditions and their knowledge. It is earlier assumption that they lived primarily in the Chittagong Hills. But fact is that they live many places in Bangladesh both hills and plains such as the vast numbers ethnic peoples in the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Dinajpur and some other districts respectively.
In Bangladesh the indigenous peoples always struggle to establish their self-determination and self-control according to article 3 of the constitution. To be noted, in Bangladesh, according to constitution and other policy level as well as administratively, the indigenous groups or ethnic groups are determined as a ‘tribal’ people or groups. Here the term ‘Indigenous’ which is recognized whole world with reference to ethnic people that comes from after the Draft declaration of UN in 1993.
The ethnic groups of Bangladesh demand the right to self-determination as proclaimed by the Draft Declaration, 1993 by the UN working group. For getting the right of self-determination, they accumulated themselves in institutionalized way founding Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF) and they started their movement against government. In Sylhet most of ‘tribal’ people also feel their self-determination and they joined the movement to get their acceptance from nation state. BAF with many organizations both national and international promote ‘tribal’ peoples to continue the movement by financially and politically.
Here it is observed that indigenous peoples of Bangladesh identified themselves as distinct culture group though they have no constitutional reorganization. For their constitutional recognition they always fight against nation state. In Sylhet, the indigenous peoples continue their movement for their self-determination and their constitutional acknowledgment. This movement is promoted and influenced by some local, national and international organizations.
The identity of Indigenous peoples is greatly influenced by these local, national and international development discourses. These discourses are generated and regenerated their Indigenous Identity. In Sylhet, the number of local and national organizations such as BAF (Bangladesh Adivasi Forum), GSIPF (Greater Sylhet Indigenous Peoples Forum), ECDO (Ethnic Community Development Organization), BKWA (Bangladesh Khasi Welfare Society), IMA (Integrated Manipuri Association) and PASKAP (Patra Somaj Kallan Parishad) exist and they extend their activities for indigenous peoples.
They are working for indigenous peoples to ensure their basic rights as well as social, political and economic rights. Most of these local organizations set up distinctly and they work separately for their well being and have linkage one to another. Except few organizations, most of the organizations is promoted and funded by the international NGOs and some leading national NGOs such as ILO, UNDP, OXFAM GB, BRAC, BARSIC etc.
Indigenous peoples should not all be conceived as totally powerless, as their mobilization and visibility at the global and regional level has allowed progress in the recognition of their rights, even if those are still insufficient, in particular at the national level where the state often refuses to adopt any law or binding agreement or when indigenous peoples face big industrial interests. In fine, Identity of people being in part socially constructed, discourse serves to construct identity and social relations. References.
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Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Mohanta, Rasamoy 1998, Aboriginal Perspective of Sylhet Region and an Analysis of Shabdakar, Published by AUS, Molvibazar Roy, Raja Devasish 2002, published by International Center for Intregrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal. Sinha, Ranjit 1997, SHADHENATAR SANGRAME BANGLADESHER MANIPURI SAMAJ, AAJKAL PRAKSHANI: 38/4 Banglabazar, Dhaka. Sharam, A K 2005,MANIPURI (MEITEI) SETTLEMENTIN BAMGLADESH, MANIPUR: PAST AND PRESENT Edited by Naorem Sanajaoba, Mittal Publication: New Delhi, India. Teem, R. W. 1992, Bangladesher Adivasi, Translated by Bangladesh Human Rights Commission, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
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