Thursday, January 17, 2008

Govt must ensure welfare of indigenous people

Speakers tell Gono Gobeshak Confce
Girls from indigenous community perform a dance number at a function marking the Gono Gobeshak Conference at Tanore in Rajshahi.
Speakers at the Gono Gobeshak Conference yesterday said the government must play a major role in ensuring welfare of underprivileged indigenous groups.

They said the achievements of different NGOs in development of neglected indigenous ethnic societies are small in comparison to their huge population. So, government should undertake an initiative to follow the examples of Gono Gobeshak (researchers among rural poor) programme.

Eminent litterateur Prof Hasan Azizul Haque attended the conference as the chief guest while Rabindranath Saren, general secretary, Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, Rina Roy, director (Rights), Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), and Tanore Upazila Nirbahi Officer Majedur Rahman Khan were present as special guests.

Sharmin Murshid, team leader, Setu Bandhan project of Brotee, chaired the event. Brotee organised the conference in association with MJF at Tanore to mark the third anniversary of Gono Gobeshak programme.

Several hundreds of indigenous and common people from 18 villages at Tanore in Rajshahi and Manda and Mahadevpur in Naogaon districts joined the daylong programme.

Prof Hasan said indigenous people will continue to lose their lands, culture and heritage until a truly pro-people government takes measures to protect them.

The government must take responsibility to ensure primary education for all. Because, all attempts for establishing human rights will be foiled without it, said Prof Hasan, adding that it is shameful to identify human beings as marginal ones.

Rabindranath Saren said no development can sustain without state-protection for the indigenous people.

Miseries of the indigenous people are countless since they fall victim to the land grabbers and influential quarters.

The daylong programme began in the morning with a colourful rally.

Gono Gobeshak team members shared their experiences in self-motivated activities of eradicating poverty, protecting human rights and social reforms.

They revealed how 60-year old Majeda of Sikarpur in Naogaon is now receiving primary education.

They added the common people now respect them while the authorities were forced to provide proper healthcare opportunities.

They also detailed their anti-dowry, anti-child marriage, sanitation and infrastructural development activities.

Cultural presentations by different ethnic groups like Santals, oraons, traditional tribal dances and Bangla and indigenous songs were performed following the discussion.

Eighteen stalls were built at the conference venue for demonstrating elements of traditional Bangalee and indigenous cultures by Gono Gobeshak teams.

Brotee formed Gono Gobeshak teams with 10 young male and female members from both indigenous and Bangalee families in a village. The teams are guided by an advisory committee consisting elderly villagers.
Swiss envoy says in Rajshahi

Swiss ambassador in Bangladesh Dora Rapold yesterday met the business leaders here and exchanged views with them.

She met the business leaders and women entrepreneurs at Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (RCCI) Bhaban before ending her three-day tour to Rajshahi.

She said there is a bright prospect for establishing agriculture-based and textile industries in the region.

She also hoped the possibility of Swiss businessmen's investment in Rajshahi.

At that time, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) deputy country director Corinne Huser, RCCI vice president Khondoker Mainul Hossain, directors Hafizur Rahman, Abul Hossain, M Shahidullah and Kabirur Rahman were present.

Later, the business leaders briefed the newsmen about the outcome of her visit. 'When we described the local trading situation, she said the possibility of Swiss businessmen's investment in Rajshahi,' said RCCI leaders.

Earlier, the Swiss envoy met the district administration officials.

Police yesterday arrested two leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh in Puthia upazila in connection with Tk 2 lakh extortion case filed against them.

The arrestees are Rajshahi eastern region Jamaat amir (chief) Moksed Ali, also teacher of Puthia Degree College and chairman of Puthia Islamia Women's College governing body and Bagha upazila Jamaat amir Abdul Mannaf, also principal of Puthia Islamia Women's College, police said.

After arrest, they were produced before a court here. The court sent them to jail custody.

Police said the two were arrested from Puthia Bazaar.

Kamal Uddin, a dismissed teacher of Puthia Islamia Women's College lodged the Tk 2 lakh extortion case against them. He alleged that he was suspended on June 1 last year. The two demanded Tk 2 lakh promising reinstatement in job on August 25.

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