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ED: Including indigenous communities in our development vision

We must respect all the ethnicities, languages, and ways of life that exist in this country

The dynamism exhibited by the Bangladesh economy in recent years has lifted millions out of poverty, increased living standards, and set middle-income status well within our sights. But unfortunately, this growth has not been uniform, and many communities, particularly our indigenous communities, have been neglected for too long.

The positive aspects of development are yet to reach many of these minority ethnic communities, who still face daily struggles not only economically and in claiming rights to their ancestral lands, but in preserving their language, heritage, and culture.

Today, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is a good time to reflect upon the various ways in which these communities have been marginalized from mainstream Bangladesh society, both economically and culturally. It is also a good time to formulate ways to move forward in productive and inclusive ways.

All rightful citizens of Bangladesh are equal under the law, and so it does not bode well for the ugly spirit of communalism to make anyone feel under attack or pushed to the margins for survival. Bangladesh, as a nation that has sheltered a million Rohingya within its borders, understands the need for humanity above communal discord.

It is a matter of great regret that while we have been taking care of a refugee population from another country, our own indigenous communities have suffered, and been disadvantaged, with their lands and heritage taken away from them.

We must respect all the ethnicities, languages, and ways of life that exist in this country as Bangladeshi, and recognize once and for all that being in the ethnic majority does not accord anyone any special privilege.

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