A national roundtable on “ILO Convention 169, Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh National Parliament” was organized on 20th December by the ILO Office in Dhaka in cooperation with Research and Development Collective at the Spectra Convention Centre, Dhaka. The objectives of the national roundtable were to create awareness on ILO C169 ratification, and strengthening parliamentary role on indigenous peoples issue in Bangladesh. A number of parliamentarians, academics, indigenous peoples’ representatives, development partners and civil society members participated in the roundtable.
The first session of the roundtable with the theme “Ratification of ILO C169: Way Forward” was chaired by Prof. H K S Arefeen of Dhaka University while Country Director of ILO Ms Panudda Boonpala delivered welcome speech. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar MP, State Minister, Ministry of CHT Affairs, Government of the People Republic of Bangladesh was present as the chief guest and Mr. Masud Ahmed, Secretary In-charge of CHT Affairs Ministry was the special guest in the session. Mr. Coen Kompier, Senior Labour Standard Specialist, ILO Delhi office presented the overview of ILO C169 while Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma and Mr. Sanjeeb Drong spoke as panel discussants.
State Minister Mr. Dipankar Talukdar reiterated government commitment to implement the CHT Accord. He expressed his optimism that present government would ratify the ILO Convention 169 as most of the rights contained in the ILO 169 were recognized by the CHT Accord. He expressed his support to form a parliamentarian caucus for indigenous peoples issue and informed that the government had already started the process of forming a separate land commission to settle the land disputes of the plain land indigenous people.
The second session with the theme ‘Indigenous Peoples and the Bangladesh National Parliament’ will be chaired by Dr. Harun-Ur-Rashid, Pro Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University and moderated Mr. Hasanul Haque Inu MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura MP, Chairman, CHT Taskforce for Rehabilitation of Expatriated Refugees and IDPs was present as Chief Guest while Mr. Shawkat Momen Shahjahan MP, Ms Rubi Rahman MP, Ms. Rawshan Jahan MP and Mr. Shanaullah Lovelu were present as special guests. The Members of Parliament supported the idea to form a parliamentary caucus on indigenous people issue. Finally, national roundtable declared to form the Caucus with 11 Parliament Members initially and formed a 3 member’s technical committee to facilitate the process.
Considering the present favorable situation with an absolute majority of the progressive minded government, the participants urged Bangladesh government to take steps immediately to ratify ILO C169 and asked parliament to take proper measures to do all necessities.