Minority rights in Bangladesh

 

Ensure rights of minorities

Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad yesterday demanded the government protect rights of the religious and ethnic minorities, and ensure their proper representation in all strata of society including politics, business, administration and the armed forces.

The Parishad leaders gave the government a six-month ultimatum to implement their seven-point demand, which includes setting up of a minority affairs ministry in line with India.

Speaking at a grand rally of minority and indigenous communities at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital, they said land and other properties of the minority people were being grabbed, in many cases, “even by ruling party leaders and lawmakers”. They said they had been subjected to torture and repression since the independence of the country.

The grand rally, first of its kind since independence, was organised to protect the existence of minority people and to establish their rights and equal status in society, the organizers said.

The rally was held at a time when a secular government has been in power for seven years now with commitment to ensure equality for people of all religious beliefs, they said.

Thousands of people from religious and ethnic minority groups joined the rally from different parts of the country, demanding equal rights and status.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police took additional security measures in and around the Udyan. Metal detectors were installed at different entry points while several CCTV cameras were installed in the rally venue to closely monitor the law and order situation.

Addressing the rally, ruling Awami League lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta said, “Even after a secular government has been in power for the last seven years, minority people have not been empowered.”

He expressed frustration saying none from the minority groups could be made ministers in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet.

Suranjit, who served as the rail minister between 2009 and 2014, castigated the AL high command for nominating only nine municipality mayoral candidates from the minority groups out of 235 municipalities across the country.

The AL lawmaker said none from the minorities got licenses of TV channels, private universities, banks, medical colleges and insurance companies.

“Representation and empowerment of the minority people will have to be ensured proportionately while running the state. We will make no compromise to this end. We will wait six months and declare tougher programmes,” he warned.

Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman blasted the government for not implementing the vested property return act and demanded the country be freed from the grip of bureaucracy to make human rights sustainable.

He called upon the government to take legal actions against the land and property grabbers of the minority people irrespective of political affiliations.

Among others, Maj Gen (retd) CR Datta Bir Uttam and Ushaton Talukder MP addressed the rally.

DEMANDS OF THE MINORITY COMMUNITY

Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the Parishad, placed the seven-point demand that included reservation of 20 percent of parliamentary seats, and appointments of minority people in all strata of the administration.

He also demanded formation of a national minority commission to ensure human rights of the religious and ethnic minority groups, full implementation of the CHT Peace Treaty, and enactment of minority protection act.

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