Sheersha Khobor Dot Com
Politicians and ethnic minority leaders at a discussion on Thursday called on the government to make way for ethnic minorities to participate in the political process in the country.
They said civil and political rights were basic human rights inaccessible for the ethnic minorities in the country.
‘Ethnic minorities live like second class citizens in Bangladesh,’ said lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha, also the convener of parliamentary caucus on indigenous peoples.
He said introduction of Islam as state religion and awarding Bengali the status of state language relegated ethnic minorities to the status of second class citizens.
Badsha was speaking as special guest at the discussion titled ‘enhancing civil and political participation of indigenous peoples in Bangladesh’.
Indigenous Peoples Development Services in cooperation with the British High Commission organised the discussion at The Daily Star Centre in the morning.
Jatiya Adivasi Parishad president Rabindranath Soren said as many as 113 ethnic community members participated in union parishad election held in 1997.
Of them, 62 people, including 35 women, were elected members at different union parishads, he said.
‘But they faced attacks ahead of the next election and many of them decided to leave politics,’ said Rabindranath Soren.
‘We are helpless though we realise nothing can be achieved without political awareness,’ he said.
Lawmaker AKM Fazlul Haque said the government should reserve eight seats in parliament to ensure representation of ethnic minorities from eight divisions in the country.
Similarly, he said, participation of ethnic minorities in local government bodies should also be ensured.
Dhaka University professor Robaet Ferdous presented the keynote paper.
Lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon, former lawmaker Nazmul Haque Prodhan and ethnic minority people from around the country took part in the discussion.
Sheersha Khobor / A A
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