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“Indigenous communities living in the punjis are struggling hard for survival as they are facing repeated attacks by outsiders, said Fr. Joseph Gomes, OMI, coordinator of the Indigenous Environment Movement of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) in Sylhet division.”
“Bangladesh Adivasi Forum central committee General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong said such violence against punji people has been going on for years. “But the problem is yet to be resolved.”
The communities remain under threat of eviction even when the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed today with the slogan “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”.
Forrest Graham, Political Officer with the US Embassy in Bangladesh visited the Khasi people in the northeast in late February at the invitation of the Oblates. Fr. Joseph Gomes, OMI, Fr. Valentine Talang, OMI, and local Khasis hosted Mr. Graham in visiting the villages near Sylhet in northeast Bangladesh to learn about the culture, language and lifestyle of the indigenous peoples living there, and the challenges facing them.
Khasi Villagers with Forrest Graham and Fr. Joseph Gomes, OMI
Flora Talang, Fr. Gomes, OMI, Forrest Graham and a Khasi friend in Muriocherra
Gathering with Khasis in Muriocherra
Forrest Graham with Khasi Elders in Muriocherra
Forrest Graham in Muroicherra Punjee
The Khasi people of Sylhet, supported by the Oblates there, have been fighting the cutting of the forest on which the people depend for their living. These efforts are also critically important for protecting area ecosystems.
On May 9th, the Khasi people staged a large public gathering to protest the continued logging as well as tea plantation expansion plans by a powerful landowner.
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