Mar 16, 2011

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Minority Groups Recognized in Constitutional Amendment

A parliamentary committee has agreed on recognizing ethnic minority groups but they will still not be considered as indigenous people by the state.


Below is an article published by New Age:


The parliamentary special committee for constitutional amendment on Tuesday [March 15, 2011] agreed to recognise the ethnic minority groups (Khudro Jonogosthi) in the constitution, although no minority community will be recognised as indigenous (Adibashi) people.

The committee at a meeting discussed the issue with the representatives of the ethnic minority groups and also agreed that the contributions of the ethnic minorities during the liberation war in 1971 would be recognised, committee sources said.

‘We agreed to recognise the ethnic minorities in the constitution,’ the committee co-chairman, Suranjit Sengupta, told reporters at the media center of the parliament after the 10th meeting of the committee.

He said as the demand for recognising them as indigenous people could not be applicable in the context of Bangladesh, so it was more logical to recognise them as Bangladeshi, not indigenous.

‘The definition of indigenous people given by the United Nations has no consistency with the situation in Bangladesh,’ said Suranjit, adding that it could be applicable for some countries like Australia where indigenous people were ousted from state power by others.

Meeting sources said that four lawmakers, two of them are state ministers of the government, representing the ethnic minority communities placed a combined demands of the different ethnic minority groups at the meeting.

State minister for cultural affairs Promod Mankin, state minister for CHT affairs Dipankar Talukdar and lawmakers Jatindra Lal Tripura and Aye Thein Rakhain placed the demands including recognising the contributions of the ethnic minority groups during the liberation war and reconising their own culture, education, language and tradition, sources said.

‘As the issue was not included in the constitution of 1972, the discussion with the leaders of the ethnic minority community was very much important,’ said Suranjit.

Please visit following news links (in Bangla) for more news on government’s denial on constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples: