Three ethnic minority organisations yesterday demanded recognition of each ethnic group separately in the constitution, in a bid to ensure their rights.
Gonotantrik Jubo Forum, Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) and Hill Women's Federation (HWF) organised a rally at Raju Memorial Sculpture on Dhaka University campus.
They also demanded annulment of the 15th amendment of the constitution.
The 15th amendment was passed on June 30, 2011 in the parliament making some significant changes including scrapping the system of caretaker government of Bangladesh, and incorporating article 23A regarding the restoration of culture of different ethnic sects, tribes, minor races and communities. However, the constitution did not recognise them as “indigenous people”.
Speaking at the rally, Nirupa Chakma, president of HWF, said “The state did not give recognition to the indigenous communities in the constitution and therefore the rights of the indigenous communities have been trampled over the years.”
Women and children are the worst victims of different forms of violence and they are not safe, she said, adding that it is the result of giving lower priority to ethnic minorities of the country.
Binion Chakma, president of PCP, said over the years, tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have been oppressed and there is an effort to oust all ethnic minorities living there.
He also alleged that law enforcers are not helpful in ensuring the rights of ethnic minorities in the hills.
Pramod Jyoti Chakma, president of Prabasi Sramajibi Front (Savar unit), said it is unfortunate that the constitution does not recognise the indigenous communities separately.
The administration is not accountable for their non-cooperation towards indigenous people, since there is no recognition of the indigenous communities in the constitution, he alleged.
Expressing solidarity with the organisations, Iqbal Kabir, president of Chhatra Moitri, said a nation can flourish if its cultures are preserved, and the preservation can only be ensured if they are recognised in the constitution.