JS caucus demands constitutional recognition of ethnic minorities

November 29, 2010

Places 11-pt constitutional amendment proposal
A Jatiya Sangsad caucus on Sunday came up with an 11-point proposal for instituting constitutional recognition of the country’s ethnic minorities.
Convener of the JS caucus on indigenous peoples Rashed Khan Menon in a written statement presented their recommendations at a news conference held at the National Press Club.
State minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs Diponkar Talukder delivered the speech of welcome at the conference moderated by caucus technical committee coordinator professor Mesbah Kamal.
Menon, also the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on education ministry, said there were 73 ethnic minorities in the country with their own cultures, traditions, languages, and religions.
He said the 30-lakh-strong ethnic minority population of the country was yet to get constitutional recognition, even after 39 years of independence.
Seventeen lawmakers formed the caucus on February 10 and 10 to 12 other lawmakers have been working with them closely, Menon said, adding that at least 30 lawmakers were sensitive to ethnic minority issues.
Our constitution recognises the religious diversity of this country’s population but not its ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversities, he said and demanded making appropriate amendments to the constitution to remove this shortcoming.
In paragraph 3 on state language, the constitution says, ‘Bangla is the state language of the republic’. To that sentence, Menon said, it could be added that ‘but the state will also equally patronise promotion and development of the languages of other ethnic groups.’
He proposed that ‘national language’ should be replaced with ‘national and other languages of the state’ in the 23rd paragraph of the second part of the constitution.
He also observed that the constitution should reflect the fact that Bangladesh was actually a pluralist society, despite the huge majority of Bangalee population while the ethnic diversity ensured ‘our unity in diversity’.
He proposed incorporation and acknowledgement of traditional social structures of the ethnic minority groups in the CHT and plain lands of the country as local government bodies.
In its statement, the caucus strongly suggested acknowledgement of traditional ‘community ownership of land’ recognised in the CHT administrative manual of 1900. They also recommended for inclusion of a provision for reserved seats for ethnic minorities in local government bodies in the ethnic minority-populated areas in paragraph 59 of the constitution.
Menon said the recommendations prepared with the support of Research and Development Collective and International Labor Organization would be tabled at the parliament for making necessary amendments to the constitution.
Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on land ministry AKM Mozammel Haque and lawmakers Amina Ahmed, Fazle Hossain Badsha, and Nabab Ali Abbas Khan were also present at the conference.


Courtesy of NewAge

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