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Untold Stories of Bangladesh: IPNEWS Champions Indigenous Communities

By Satej Chakma (Chakma), sub-editor, IPNEWS BD

In Bangladesh, a country with a long history and deep traditions, the stories of its Indigenous Peoples are often missing from the news and other media platforms and don’t always get heard. A newsgroup called IPNEWS is trying to change this narrative.

Started in 2016, IPNEWS is all online. We are working to stand up for the rights and lives, cultures, and lifeways of Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh. We believe that the democracy in Bangladesh hasn’t been fair for everyone in the past 50 years, and Indigenous Peoples haven’t had much say in things.

There are more than 54 Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh, who have been historically deprived of their rights and silenced by State mechanisms and influential groups. Now, they finally have a platform to tell their own stories. 

The media is thought of as the fourth pillar of democracy, but it often falls short when it comes to portraying the complexities of Indigenous realities. Their stories are often fragmented, distorted, or suppressed, failing to capture the true essence of their lives, struggles, and vibrant cultures.


Recognizing this void, IPNEWS stepped onto the scene with a simple, yet powerful mission: to become “The voice of the marginalized." Striving to build a society free from discrimination, IPNEWS champions the right of Indigenous communities to practice their customs, beliefs, and values with dignity.

Our journey hasn't been without challenges. The pandemic plunged IPNEWS into a financial crisis, threatening its very existence. But amidst the darkness, Cultural Survival emerged as a steadfast partner, providing crucial financial support during these perilous times.

With Cultural Survival's backing, IPNEWS embarked on a project titled "Enhanced Capacity of Indigenous Journalism for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Bangladesh." This initiative empowered Indigenous youth, equipping them with the skills and resources to become vocal advocates for their communities.

The project yielded remarkable results. Four passionate individuals joined IPNEWS as reporters, using their voices to amplify the stories of their people. Workshops and field visits fostered new connections with diverse youth networks, expanding the reach and impact of IPNEWS.

However, challenges remain. Indigenous women face a steeper uphill climb due to existing inequalities. Yet, IPNEWS perseveres, recognizing the need for further engagement with diverse talent groups to fulfill its mission.

Looking ahead, IPNEWS dreams of a Bangladesh where Indigenous voices resonate clearly within the national discourse. Achieving this vision requires ongoing support, both financially and in the form of tools and equipment. Building a strong media platform takes time, but IPNEWS is unwavering in its commitment to empowering and elevating the marginalized communities it serves.

Our vision is that "We shall overcome someday and become the strong voice of marginalized Indigenous communities in Bangladesh." And with our continued dedication and the unwavering support of our allies like Cultural Survival, that day may just be on the horizon.

In 2022, IPNEWS received a grant from the Indigenous Community Media Fund which provides opportunities for international Indigenous radio stations to strengthen their infrastructure and broadcast systems and creates training opportunities for journalism, broadcasting, audio editing, technical skills, and more for radio journalists from Indigenous communities around the world. In 2023, the Indigenous Community Media Fund supported communities with 60 grants totaling $420,000 to Indigenous community media in 20 countries, supporting 87 Indigenous Peoples.