Courtesy: New Age, Dhaka, National, 8 Oct 2010
Govt urged to recognise ethnic minorities in constitution
Politicians, jurists and academics at a discussion on Thursday called on the government to incorporate provisions for distinctive identity and rights of the ethnic minority communities in the constitution, now in the process of being amended, after the annulment of the fifth and seventh amendments.
They said if Bangladesh wanted to be identified as an inclusive, pluralistic democratic country, all the 45 small ethnic groups would need to be recognised in the constitution along with their custom, language and cultural distinction.
They came up with the views at the discussion on the ‘context of constitutional recognition to the adivasis and its relevance’ organised by the Kapaeeng Foundation and the Manusher Jonno Foundation in the CIRDAP auditorium.
They suggested implementation of all clauses of the CHT accord in full and announcement of a clear process and timeline for the job and establishment of agencies and departments needed to effectively implement the accord.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, adviser to the Kapaeeng Foundation, read out the keynote paper where he demanded constitutional recognition of all small ethnic groups, recognition of their traditional ownership to land and their representation in policy-making bodies to bring an end to the existing disparity they were facing.
Former Supreme Court judge Golam Rabbani, who presided over the discussion, requested the government to recognise ethnic minorities in the constitution by bringing about a new amendment. He also asked the CHT land dispute resolution commission to understand that ethnic minority people believe in social ownership of land.
The Workers Party of Bangladesh president, Rashed Khan Menon, said movements demanding constitutional recognition should be made strengthened and the government should ensure their rights in keeping with its electoral pledges.
Gana Forum presidium member Pankaj Bhattacharya said the image of the government would be brightened if it would recognise ethnic minorities in the constitution.
Journalist Syed Abul Maksud, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, Adivasi Forum organising secretary Shaktipada Tripura, Dhaka University teacher Obaidul Haque, rights activist Rosaline Costa, researcher Partha Shankar Saha and Tandra Chakma also joined the discussion conducted by Rabindranath Soren.