It was a happy reunion of Brij Kishore Tripura of Khagrachhari and Joli Mong Marma of Bandarban after a year at the colourful celebration of the International Indigenous Peoples' Day at the central Shaheed Minar in the city Wednesday, reports BDNEWS.
They warmly greeted each other reminiscing their past days together, followed by snacks and drinks. Both Brij Kishore and Joli Mong once led the Hills Students' Parishad.
Joli Mong said, "Both of us are the inhabitants of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). But we could not meet due to our busy schedules. But the celebration of the Indigenous Peoples' Day make enabled us to meet at least once a year."
"The day also creates an opportunity for us to communicate with hundreds of indigenous people living across the country. Our meeting provokes a feeling within me that we a great force when we get united," he added.
"But when we will return to our region, we will find the same picture of endless exploitation, oppression, deprivation and land grabbing," said a frustrated Mong.
"But, the celebration of the Indigenous People's Day gives us the courage to struggle," he added.
Hundreds of indigenous people of all ages from across the county thronged at the central Shaheed Minar premises beating drums and trumpets, and wearing their traditional colourful dresses to celebrate the day.
CHT Regional Council chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriyo (Santu) Larma chaired the occasion.
Inaugurating the programme, prominent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haq said, "In the liberation war, both the Bangalees and the Adivasis (aborigines) sacrificed their lives, but no government gave them constitutional recognition."
Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) president Monzurul Ahsan Khan, JSD president Hasanul Haque Inu, Fazle Hossain Badsha of the Workers Party, Khushi Kabir of Nijera Kori, Rokeya Kabir of Nari Progoti Sangha, tribal leader Remon Areng, Rebeka Saren and Rabindranath Saren, among others, addressed the meeting.
Chakma, Garo and tea workers presented their traditional dances on the occasion followed by a colourful rally.
The theme of the Indigenous Peoples' Day is 'Indigenous People's Right to Territory, Land and Natural Resources'.
Apart from Adivashi Forum, indigenous people in Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban, Rajshahi, Tangail, Sherpur and Mymensingh organised elaborate programmes to mark the day.
The programmes included rallies, processions, discussion meetings and cultural programmes.
The European Commission (EC) expressed its solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples' Day.