Issue 11::29 October 2006

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News Article:

Marmas observe 'waggay' with traditional festivity

(Published on 15 October 2006 in the Daily Star)

Waggay, a Marma word, means freedom. It is a traditional custom of Buddhist Banty (the chief of the Buddhist prayer hall) to stay at least three months in one place. Towards the end, a two-day traditional cultural programme ended at Masterpara in the Khagrachhari district recently.

Some thousand members of the Marma community including men, women, and children attended at the colourful event. To celebrate the day, the keyang (Buddhists' prayer hall) was intricately decorated with flower, leaves and coloured paper. During the two nights, Marma women made a variety of pitha while the traditionally attired young sang, danced and participated in different games.

On the concluding day, different competitions on poetry recitation, art, and general knowledge were organised for children. In the afternoon, a prize distribution function was also held.

Panchha Sowami, Banty chaired the event, while Khagrachhari Press Club president Chowdhury Ataur Rahman Rana was present as chief guest. Journalist Abu Taher Muhammad, Neyong Marma, Mraggah Marma, Uttam Marma were present as guests.

Speakers said, The belief is that by observing waggay the Marma people would prosper and strengthen their bonds within the community.

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Joint Venture of Save the Children

Indigenous People in Khagrachori will Get Primary Education in Own Language

(Published on 13 October 2006 in the Daily Jai Jai Din)

Complying with the Government primary education system, the indigenous children will have opportunity of learning primary education in their own language. With this view, local development organization Jabarong Welfare Association and Save the Children UK will jointly implement a project titled Quality Integrated Education in Khagrachori. Under Children Empowerment Project, this education program will be implemented at Khagrachori Sadar, Panchhorhi and Dighinala Upazila in the district. It was disclosed in a press conference held at Khagrhachori Press Club on the occasion of launching the project activities on Thursday.

Chairman of Khagrachori Parboytto Jila Parishad Monindra Lal Tripura and District Primary Education Officer Indubhushon Deb attended the press conference as Chief Guest and Special Guest respectively. Among others, Upazila Primary Education Officers of  Khagrachori Sadar, Panchhorhi and Dighinala Upazila, UP Chairmen, representatives of different school governing committees and development organizations were also present in the press conference.

The Indigenous People of Durgapur Demanded Security of Vote and Life

(Published on 12 October 2006 in the Daily Protham Alo)

Anu Mostofa, Rajshahi: Indigenous people living in 10 villages under Durgapur Upazila in Rajshahi district demanded security of their vote and life. They alleged, due to the forced bar of a group of political cadres, most of the indigenous voters of three villages could not reach the vote center in the last national election. In other villages, they also faced huge obstacle in this respect. They want to elect such a fit candidate who will do good for them in the days to come.

Upazila Election Office sources said, there live about five thousand indigenous families in 10 villages under four UP at Durgapur Upazila. Among them, two thousand indigenous families live at Mohiparha, Golabarhi and Mollaparha villages under Pananagar Union. Mainly the indigenous people of Mohiparha village lead all the indigenous people living in the Upazila in different social activities. Mohiparha village is situated at the 20 Kilometre north from Birhaldaho of Rajshahi-Natore highway. Golabarhi and Mollaparha villages are beside Mohiparha. The only possession of the families of these villages is their housing plot. Members of the Saontal and Orhaon communities have been living in this are for ages.

The indigenous people living at Mohiparha said, they could not exercise their franchise in the national election in 2001. Not mentioning any particular name, they alleged, cadres of a political party threaten them several days before election. They also order them to vote for a particular symbol. The indigenous said, if the security of their vote is not ensured this year, all of them together would arrange press conference and abstain from voting for anybody. If necessary, they will also demonstrate at Upazila and district level.

Indigenous leader Philip Soren said, due to the threat of the cadres of a political party on the Election Day, male and female voters of the indigenous communities could not vote in the last national election. They were threatened of life risk and uprooting from the area if they go to the vote centers.  

About the security of vote and life of the indigenous communities, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sayeda Jebubnnesa said, if such a situation prevails, all security measures including deploying more police force in the indigenous villages will be adopted during the election.

Durgapur Upazila President of National Indigenous Council Joyons Tudu said, the only support of these indigenous families is physical labour. There is no health centre for them in the area. The number of tube wells for drinking water is also very few. Most of the indigenous children cannot go to school due to poverty. Head Master of only indigenous school of the area Rebeca Rozario said, books were obtained free of cost in the first two years of the present government, but nothing available in the next years. A non-government organization named CARITAS has been supplying necessary books at a lower cost here.

She also said, to inspire the indigenous children to learn education, it is necessary to implement some promotional activities in this area. Though two thousand indigenous people live in these three villages, there is no graveyard for them. As a consequence, they are to observe obituary in other people’s land or in any jungle beside canal or ditch. They would vote for only that candidate who would benefit them for their welfare in the next national election, they added.

Speakers in the publication ceremony of a book about the Mandi

No Government Played Active Role to Preserve Rights of the Indigenous

(Published on 10 October 2006 in the Daily Jai jai Din)

No government played active role to preserve rights of the indigenous people living in the country. Even their legal rights have been snatched away. Moreover, some so-called development work has been done in this area, which affected negatively instead of doing welfare of the indigenous community. Even this community has yet to get land rights here. Speakers said it while addressing the publication ceremony of the book titled as Struggle for Survival: A Study on the Legal Status of the Mandi Peoples Land Rights in Modhupur Forest Area held at Fine Arts Academy in Dhaka on Monday.

Acting Country Director of Action Aid Shoyeb Siddiquee presented different aspects of the book and Proprietor of Shrabon Publications Robin Ahsan presented welcome address in the function. Speakers said, the community people of the Mandi were harassed through accusing them falsely of deforestation, cutting trees and excavation of hill. Meanwhile there rises anxiety of the existence of Garo hill. They opined to prepare and publish more research oriented and investigative books to prevent such atrocities.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Adibashi Forum Sanjib Drong opened the cover of the book. Among others, Prof Niaz Zaman of Dhaka University, Golam Mourtoza of Weekly 2000, Shamsul Huda of Association for Land Reform and Rights, Representative of the Mandi (Garo) Ajay A Mri and writer of the book “Struggle for Survival” Fazlus Sattar took part in the discussion. With the assistance of Action Aid, Shrabon Publications published the book.

Football Tournament of Adivasi held

Published on 05 October 2006 in the Daily Bangladesh Today)

Adivasi Bikash Kendra (ABIK) emerged champion in all Adivsi “Sagram Majhi Memorial Football Tournament” held at Kanonhat High School field on Saturday last. ABIK defeated Panchgachia Shandhyatara Jubo Sangha by 1-0 goal. Loan goal was scored by Rupen. Referee of the game was Alauddin Alal. After the game trophy was given by Adivasi Unnayan Sngstha (AUS) ED Bhagbat Tudu and Pargana Parsishad President Biswanath Tudu. At the end, a drama based on Sagram Majhi was presented. Sagram Majhi was Adivasi leader and was elected MLA as joint front candidate in 1954.

Total 16 Adivasi football teams took part in the tournament, which created enthusiasm in the area all the games were attended by huge number of spectators, majority of which was Adivasis. The tournament was organised by Adivasi Unnayan Sangstha.

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