Category Archives: Culture

First human rights fair organized in Sylhet by ECDO

Human Rights Fair-2014 Rally Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO) organized a successful two-day long Human Rights Fair at Sylhet Zella Parisad premises on 21 and 22 May 2014. The event was held under the ‘Strengthening the Voice of Human Rights Defenders to protect Rights and Entitlements of Ethnic Minorities’ project with support from European Union and Oxfam. Advocate Ms. Sultana Kamal, former advisor to the caretaker government, was present as the Chief Guest during the inaugural session. Among others, Mr. William Hanna, Ambassador and Chief of the EU delegation to Bangladesh, Mr. Snehal V Soneji, Country Director of Oxfam Bangladesh, Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP), Md. Musfequr Rahman, indigenous leader, Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, and SUJON District Committee President, Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury were also present as special guests.

Advocate Sultana Kamal is delivering her inaugural speech of the fair The event began with a colourful rally with banners, placards and festoons. Speakers of the discussion session urged the government to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, stating that the current situation in the country was unsatisfactory, and without improvement, the overall sustainable development of Bangladesh will continue to remain slow. Speakers praised the Human Rights Fair for being a new concept that will create opportunities to disseminate culture, life and livelihood of different indigenous groups as well as highlighting indigenous rights related issues mainstream people, particularly civil society actors. The aim of the fair was to increase understanding among non-indigenous stakeholders about indigenous peoples’ rights and its present state. Indigenous people also benefited from the fair as it provided an opportunity to learn about their rights and ways to exercise and protect them free from setbacks. Fifteen stalls were decorated by different development agencies, legal aid support organizations and indigenous peoples organization like BLAST, BNWLA, IPDS, IDEA, ECDO, PASKOP, and Anik Manipuri Fashion House, among others. The stalls displayed indigenous peoples’ culture, life, and livelihood, as well as the legal support mechanisms that are available to them. On the occasion of Human Rights Fair-2014 Mr. William Hanna, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation of European Union to Bangladesh is delivering his speech The inaugural session was chaired by Mr. Lakshmikanta Singh, Executive Director of hosting organization, ECDO. At the end of the session, a Human Rights Journalism Award was given to four journalists for their invaluable contribution to raising awareness about indigenous rights issues by publishing and circulating stories, which played a significant role in gaining the attention of civil society actors, local administration and national level human rights activists. Mr. Ikramul Kabir from Somoy TV Sylhet office is receiving his Human Rights journalism award from our guestsThe session concluded with a colorful cultural program performed by different indigenous cultural teams. The motive of this cultural program was to introduce non-indigenous people to the beauty and richness of indigenous culture.

Three technical sessions took place on the second day of the fair, and focused on the issues that indigenous people face, and the ways in which different stakeholders can contribute to their development in their own capacities. Specific themes were used to highlight issues that are specific and unique to Sylhet region. The first session addressed the problems and prospects of the Manipuri indigenous community in Bangladesh, and was hosted by renowned Manipuri author, Mr. A K Sheram. Manipuri cultural team is performing Manipuri traditional dance 'Lai Haraoba'The second session, run by Professor Dr. Faisal Ahmmed of the Social Work Department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), explored the state of land rights and focused on Khasi, Garo, Oraon and Tea labour communities in Sylhet region. The third session emphasised the role of local administration, civil society and human rights defenders (HRD) in protecting the rights of indigenous people, and was run by Nusrat Hasina Shampa – a law faculty member of Leading University and Human Rights Defender to ECDO, Sylhet. Distinguished professors and development activists chaired all three sessions. Among them, Professor Dr. Kamal Ahmed Chowdhury of the Sociology Department and Professor Dr. A.K.M. Mahbubuzzaman of the Social Work Department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) and Advocate Emad Ullah Shahidul Islam, notable human rights activist acted as chair of the sessions. Academics, civil society members, political elites, media personnel, indigenous leaders and members of different indigenous groups actively participated and shared their experiences in all the sessions, and media covered the event with great appreciation.

Mr. Saikat Biswas from Oxfam is announcing 'Human Rights Fair-2014 Sylhet declaration' at the end of the fair‘A Human Rights Fair- 2014 Sylhet Declaration’ was announced at the conclusion of the fair by Mr. Saikat Biswas of OXFAM.  The establishment of a Manipuri Cultural Institute at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) was another important demand raised in the declaration.  The declaration also covered the demand to include indigenous people in the planning and implementation phases of government development projects. Proper implementation of internationally recognized rights of indigenous peoples was also claimed in the declaration.  European Union Ambassador and Chief of EU delegation to Bangladesh, Mr. William Hanna, and his team, along with Oxfam Country Director thanked ECDO for organizing the successful event.

Program related newspaper link:

21 May 2014

22 May 2014

23 May 2014

24 May 2014

ECDO celebrated International Human Rights Day 2013

A colorful rally on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2013ECDO celebrated International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2013 with a rally and discussion session at Sylhet Zella Parisad conference hall. Dr. Elias Uddin Biswas, Treasurer of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, attended in the session as chief guest. Special guests included Dr. A K M Mahbubuzzaman, Head of the Social Work Department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Advocate Jamilul Haque Jamil, President District Bar Association Sylhet and Advocate Jyotsna Islam, Vice-President of WE CAN campaign. Executive Director of ECDO, Mr. Lakshmikanta Singh, presided over the discussion session.

Discussion sessionChief Guest, Professor Dr. Elias Uddin spoke of the worsening condition of indigenous people in Sylhet region. He highlighted the ways in which they are victimized by land grabbers and excluded by government policy. Adivasi people are not recognized in the Bangladeshi Constitution or by the government, and are therefore subjected to ongoing discrimination and marginalization. Dr. Elias urged the government to amend the Constitution in recognition of the existence of indigenous peoples.

Dr. A K M Mahbubuzzaman described the ways in which indigenous people have become displaced and marginalized by local land grabbers. He said that indigenous peoples do not feel safe or secure in Bangladesh, in part due to the decreasing Adivasi population, and urged the government to take immediate action to prevent a further population decline.

Participants of Human Rights DayAdvocate Jamilul said the Sylhet Bar association is committed to ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples through the provision of legal support. Advocate Emad Ullah Shahidul Islam, ex-President of Sylhet District Bar Association, Advocate Irfanuzzaman Chowdhury, Coordinator Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) Sylhet Unit, and Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury member, Central Committee of SUJON also delivered their powerful speeches.

Mentionable that Professor Dr. Faisal Ahmed made a key note paper presentation related to the Human Rights situation of indigenous peoples of Sylhet region. ECDO have organized this event with support of European Union and Oxfam under the project of Strengthening the voice of Human Right Defenders to protect rights and ensure entitlement of ethnic minorities.

Program related media link:-

ECDO representative attended 25th IGC session of WIPO

Ms. Nongpoklai Sinha representative from ECDO successfully participated in the 25th session of Inter Governmental Committee (IGC) held on 14-25 July 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. The 25th session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) from July 15 to 24, 2013, concluded with a revised draft text of an international legal instrument on intellectual property (IP) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). This text will be submitted to the September 2013 session of the WIPO General Assembly.

The IGC also engaged in a review and stock taking of the text, as well as the text(s) of the international legal instrument(s) ensuring the effective protection of traditional knowledge (TK) and genetic resources (GRs).

The session was chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica. He was assisted by the Vice-Chairs of the IGC, Ms. Alexandra Grazioli (Switzerland) and Mr. Bebeb Djundjunan (Indonesia), as well as the Friend of the Chair, Mr. Ian Goss (Australia).

Side Event:

A number of side-events held during the session attracted strong interest. These were:

  • Shared Traditional Knowledge: Issues and Options, presented by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
  • Traditional expressions of culture and contemporary creativity: A perspective from audio-visual artists and creators, presented by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), in association with the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago and the Permanent Mission of the United States of America
  • La nouvelle règlementation du patrimoine culturel au Cameroun, présentée par Dr Rachel-Claire OKANI, Expert pays CIPI – OMPI/RGSTF, Université de Yaoundé II, Cameroun
  • WIPO Project on Intellectual Property and Product Branding for Business Development in Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), presented by the WIPO Secretariat

Total 142 participants from 93 countries and 49 observers and the European Union was attended in this session.

A seminar on ‘Role of Media to establish rights for indigenous people’

One of journalist speaking at the SeminarLeaders of indigenous peoples, social activists and journalists stressed the need for proactive role of the media to protect indigenous people’s rights through projecting their sufferings.

Speaking at a seminar, they said the media could be used as a powerful tool of disseminating information about the indigenous peoples and drawing attention of the policymakers to resolve their problems.

The discussion on ‘Role of Media to establish rights for indigenous peoples was organized by a Sylhet-based NGO, Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO), at a city hotel on 20 March 2012.

The indigenous leaders told the seminar that most of the indigenous issues are ignored in the local and national media, and indigenous voices are almost absent. Media portray some stereotyped images of indigenous life and highlight only some cultural activities and incidents, they added.

On the other hand, journalists said they need authentic sources of information while reporting on major indigenous issues, but very few people dare to provide information. For in-depth reporting on indigenous issues, they sought cooperation from the community people. Lakshmikanta Singha, Executive Director of the ECDO, presented keynote paper in the seminar.

The indigenous peoples are deprived of adequate media coverage, said Lakshmikanta Singh, adding that issues relating to their rights and sufferings are not adequately reflected in the media. He suggested that journalists should concentrate on objective and in-depth reporting on the indigenous peoples. He described how the indigenous peoples are deprived of their rights and how other people treat them.

Convener of Socheton Nagorik Committee (TIB) Sylhet Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury presided & moderated over the seminar, including senior journalist Al Azad and other 35 journalists, indigenous community leaders, government, NGO officials and journalists were attended in the seminar. Faruk Mahmud Chowdhury stressed the need for objective reporting in media. “Media should not write anything which can affect peace and harmony between the plain land people and the minority community,” he added. Mentionable that ECDO was organized the seminar under its Support to indigenous peoples of plain land-SIPPL with support from Oxfam GB

Program related media link;

1. The Daily Independent

2. The Daily Prothom Alo