Election commitments on minority rights forgotten

Bangladesh Workers’ Party chairman Rashed Khan Menon addresses a panel discussion on lowland ethnic minorities at the Daily Star Bhaban in Dhaka on Thursday. — Stock Photo New Age.

A ruling alliance lawmaker, academic and rights activists at a roundtable on Thursday said the ruling Awami League’s election promise to establish a separate commission for lowland ethnic minorities does not s was not materialized.

They said the AL’s election commitments on minority rights had been forgotten.

They said ethnic minority rights needed constitutional recognition and political commitment.

Major political parties are failing to deliver, they added.

The speakers made their observations during the discussion titled “Leaving No One Behind: Inclusion of Lowlands Ethnic Minorities in the Achievement of SDG 2030”.

Addressing the programme, University of Dhaka history professor Mesbah Kamal said Bangladesh’s first constitution in 1972 was undemocratic as it failed to recognize diversities beyond identity. Bengali.

He felt that ethnic minorities were not treated with an inclusive sense in the country’s constitution and this is where the importance of constitutional recognition for them came.

Ethnic minorities in the plains face continuous eviction from their land, which forces them to become landless and ultimately poverty and food insecurity plague them, Prof Kamal said.

Legislator and Chairman of the Bangladesh Workers’ Party, Rashed Khan Menon, said development must be inclusive and the Sustainable Development Goals also emphasize inclusive development.

Menon said, “If Bangladesh is to become a model in achieving the goals of the SDGs, ethnic minorities need to be included in the development process and they need constitutional recognition.

The president of the Indigenous Peoples Development Services, Sanjeeb Drong, said the participation of ethnic minorities from the simple lands was essential to achieve the SDGs.

He stressed the importance of formulating and implementing a national indigenous policy.

Journalist and writer Sohrab Hassan said the land ownership of “ethnic minorities” is different and unique compared to the Bengali people. They do not believe in paper documentation of land and have lived on their land for decades, but some concerned authorities have evicted them from their land using the issue of land registration documents.

Sohrab said the ruling Awami League in its 2008 election manifesto promised a separate land commission for the Plains ethnic minorities, but this did not materialize.

Kamal Uddin Ahmed, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said they had written to the government to form a separate ministry to protect the rights of all ethnic minority groups.

Islamic Relief Bangladesh and Indigenous Peoples Development Services co-hosted the discussion.