Indigenous Peoples situation of Bangladesh (2017)

Binota Dhamai, Pallab Chakma

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Bangladesh is a country of cultural and ethnic diversity, with over 54 indigenous peoples speaking at least 35 languages, along with the majority Bengali population. According to the 2011 Census, the country’s indigenous population is approximately 1,586,141,1 which represents 1.8% of the total population of the country. However, indigenous peoples in the country claim that their population stands at about 5 million.2 Approximately 80% of the indigenous population lives in the plain land districts of the north and south-east of the country,3 whereas the rest reside in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). In the CHT, the indigenous peoples are commonly known as Jummas for their traditional practice of swidden cultivation (crop rotation agriculture), locally known as jum. The Government of Bangladesh does not recognise indigenous peoples as “indigenous”. Nevertheless, since the 15th amendment of the constitution, adopted in 2011, people with distinct ethnic identities other than the mainstream Bengali population are now mentioned.4 However, only cultural aspects are mentioned, whereas issues related to indigenous peoples’ economic and political rights, not least their land rights, remain ignored. The CHT Accord of 1997 was a constructive agreement between indigenous peoples and the Government of Bangladesh. Still, even after 19 years, major issues in the Accord, such as the Land Commission, the devolution of power and functions to the CHT institutions, preservation of the tribal area characteristics of the CHT region, demilitarisation, rehabilitation of internally displaced people, etc., remain unaddressed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Indigenous World (2017)
    Editors Katrine Broch Hansen, Käthe Jepsen and Pamela Leiva Jacquelin
    Place of PublicationDenmark
    PublisherThe International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
    ISBN (Print)978-87-92786-72-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Cite this