Church calls for equal rights for indigenous Bangladeshis

Indigenous children seek work in northern Bangladesh (UCA News/Stephan Uttom)

A Catholic official and activists have called for equal rights and justice for indigenous people in Bangladesh as ethnic minorities marked the International Day for World’s Indigenous Peoples on Sunday. Source: UCA News.

They urged the Bangladeshi Government to ensure the basic constitutional rights of ethnic communities including recognition as Adivasi (indigenous peoples) and equal rights to food, employment, education in their mother language, healthcare and justice for abuse including torture, killing and sexual harassment.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced indigenous groups to curtail celebrations for the day or to resort to virtual programs as demands for rights and justice have grown louder and stronger.

Rabindranath Soren, president of the National Adivasi Council, said indigenous people have been deprived of Government food aid and starved during the COVID-19 pandemic, with about 25,000 indigenous people have lost their jobs.

The Secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic bishops’ justice and peace commission, Fr Liton Gomes, said the rights and development of indigenous people have always been a priority for the Church but they are denied due rights from the state.

“The Church and development groups are working for indigenous communities, but their rights can be effectively met if the government wants. The authorities need to realise ethnic minorities are not a threat but a valuable resource,” Fr Gomes said.

“They do not want big things, just their basic rights as citizens.”

FULL STORY

Church seeks rights for indigenous Bangladeshis (By Stephan Uttom, UCA News

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