Bangladeshi Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the Environment a Great Success
January 27th, 2012
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) sponsored a successful major conference on Indigenous Peoples and the Environment in Sylhet, Bangladesh January 12-14, 2012. Amidst cultural exhibitions and art displays, hundreds of participants attended workshops on environmental, social and economic issues affecting the indigenous peoples and the tea plantation workers of the Sylhet region in Northeast Bangladesh.
BAPA works closely with the Adivasi and indigenous efforts to protect their land and livelihood. The conference emphasized the importance of the need for enforcement of their rightful ownership of land and of access the courts to defend their rights and limit harassment. In light of government statements in the past year that have failed to recognize the presence of indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, the conference was also a bold statement to political leaders and government authorities about the reality of indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, the dignity of their culture and traditions, and their rightful ownership of land.
Economic development is an imperative for the government of Bangladesh, but in the northeast, this has come into conflict with the rights, needs and desires of the indigenous peoples on whose land some of this development has taken place.
Fr. Joseph Gomes, OMI spoke at the conference on logging, indigenous livelihoods and the environment. Sharif Jamil, a close collaborator of the Oblates who helped organize the conference, kindly sent us pictures and the program which can be viewed here:
A full conference report is expected soon.
Watch a slideshow of pictures from the Conference…