Friday, August 5, 2011
Jumma Peoples Network-Korea (JPNK) submits memorandum to the prime minister Sheikh Hasina expressing it's strong reservation against the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh, article 6-2, that proclaims that "the people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bengalee"
5th August, 2011
The Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Prime Minister’s Office
Subject: Concern regarding the 15th amendment to the National Constitution and strong reservation against the clause 2 of article 6.
Honorable Prime Minister,
We express our deepest concern regarding the contents of the 15th amendment to the National Constitution of Bangladesh, which was passed by the Parliament on 30th June 2011. Our organization is very much disappointed that the parliament of Bangladesh exclusively represented by your party (Awami League) and pro-government law makers have passed the 15th amendment to the constitution that has already been rejected by the majority of the population, specially the civil society of Bangladesh. The Jumma Peoples’ Network-Korea( JPNK), also strongly reject the 15th amendment for the reason that the constitution, on the light of 15th amendment has failed to uphold the value of democracy and secularism and has failed to protect the very rights of the indigenous people or the people of other ethnicities and the believers of other religions rather than Islam.
We strongly reject the clause 2 of article 6 which proclaims that “the people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bengalese as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshi”. This article has not only derecognized the identity of the citizens of other ethnicities but also denied their rights over their own land. The amendment has even denied the existence of indigenous people living within the territory of Bangladesh. Constitutionally, terming all the citizens as “Bengalees” is naked and shameful imposition of “Bengali” nationalism on the non-Bengali population or the indigenous people living within its territory.
Honorable Prime Minister,
It came to our notice that Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni has blatantly denied the identity of the indigenous people of the CHT stating that it was a ‘misperception’ and ‘misrepresentation’ to refer to the ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as ‘indigenous’ in reference to the report of the tenth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issue. It is amazing that she (foreign minister) has campaigned for the indigenous people in the UN in 2008 when four party alliance government led by BNP was officially denying the existence of the indigenous people in Bangladesh. By denying the identity of the indigenous people foreign minister Dipu Moni and the Awami League (the ruling party) has lost its ideological legitimacy on governing the state.
As UN defines the term “indigenous people” are the people who have ‘strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources, distinct social, economic or political systems, language, culture and beliefs, form non‐dominant groups of society, resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities’. All these criteria are clearly fulfilled by the indigenous people from the CHT as well as the rest of the country. Moreover, these people also fulfill the criteria of indigenous populations as contained in the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Populations of 1957 (Convention No. 107), which Bangladesh ratified in June, 1972.
Dear prime minister,
Again, we would like to remind you of the sad history that the Ex. President Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman curved by advising the Jumma leaders to forget their own identity and become Bengalee in 1972 instead of accepting their demands for retention of autonomy in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The history of 1972 has turned into another history of bloodshed and killings of 20,000 people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for 25 years until signing the “Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) peace accord” in 1997. We would like to advise you to learn from the history.
We, by exercising our democratic rights as citizens of Bangladesh, would like to urge you with the followings in reference to the 15th amendment to the national constitution that was passed on 30th June 2011.
1) Review article 2 that mentions Islamic fundamentalist words in the beginning of constitution and article 2A that says the state religion of the republic of Bangladesh is Islam.(these articles are controversial that hinder religious freedom and democracy)
2) repeal the clause 2 of Article 6 through which extreme Bengali nationalism were imposed on non-Bengali indigenous people.
3) Enact law to guarantee the constitutional recognition of the indigenous people
4) Demilitarize CHT and rehabilitate the Bengalee settlers in the plain districts.
5) Amend the Chittagong Hill Tracts manual law and ensure autonomy and safeguard the human rights in the region.
Jumma People’s Network-Korea (JPNK)
1) Ban Ki- Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
2) Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues(UNPFII)
3) Chair, the CHT commission
4) Foreign ministers of EU
5) Foreign minister of the Republic of Korea
6) Foreign minister of the USA
7) Foreign ministers of SAARC(South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) states
Posted by CHT NEWS UPDATE at 8:40 AM