Rules about Flags: Lack of knowledge or ignorance?
WE read about various laws but being a citizen of Bangladesh, many of us are unaware about the laws with regard to flags. In seeing so many colourful flags all around Dhaka I felt this would be a good time to write something about the rules with regard to flags. In this writing, it is not meant to contradict any individual's view with regard to the use of flags but it is worth to note down a few rules that we are supposed to abide by whilst using our own national flag along with any foreign flags.
Flags are used to signify symbols but the flag of each country denoted as national flag sends a message about the country itself. This means the flag of Bangladesh carries with it a story, a story of independence, a story of the lives lost in the plight for independence and the greenery of the land. It is implied that a flag which carries such historical significance should be handled with caution and as such rules were made whilst adopting our beloved green and red flag namely, People's Republic Of Bangladesh Flag Rules, 1972.
The rules contain the definition of flag, description and size of it, along with the colour specifications. In Rule 4, specification is laid out as to the occasions on which the flag of Bangladesh can be flown for instance, 26th March, 16th December, etc. Further in Rule 6 it is stated that the flag should be flown in all Bangladesh Diplomatic Missions and Consular posts in foreign countries in accordance with the custom of the country in question.
Rule 7 specifically provides provision as to the maintenance of the dignity of the Flag. Rule 7(I) states that 'due honour and respect shall always be shown to the Flag'. In making use of the flag in joy and happiness do we pay the due respect we are supposed to pay to it? We simply don't as was seen in the pictures from 26th March 2014 where after singing the national anthem aiming for the world record people threw the paper flags on the street and walked past stepping on them. This is just an example but there are so many other occasions where we do not bother caring about how we are disrespecting the flag. Rule 7(II) states that the Flag shall never be draped over the hold, top side or back of a vehicle, railway train or boat. I believe everyone reading this must have at least once seen the Flag covering the bonnet of a car or being draped in any other way whilst it is prohibited by this Rule. Some people do such things inadvertently as they are not aware of the existence of such rules. Further in Rule 7 (III) it states that 'the place of honour shall be reserved for the 'Bangladesh Flag' when it is accompanied by flags or colours of other foreign countries'.
At the current time, these rules are noteworthy as many of us have been blown away by the world cup fever and putting up so many flags on our cars, buildings, roofs and what not. The provisions also state that if there are two flags then the Bangladesh Flag should be flown at the right of the building. It is further stated that when the number of flags is odd then the Bangladesh flag should be flown in the middle. If the number is even then the Flag should be flown the first to the right of the centre. Moreover, no other flag or even colour shall be flown above the Flag of Bangladesh. A few more rules contained within Rule 7 are noteworthy: When the flag of any other country is flown together with the 'Bangladesh Flag' the later shall be hoisted first and lowered last. Additionally, when the flags of two or more countries are displayed, they shall be flown on separate staffs. The flags shall be approximately of
equal size. I have seen a flag of Bangladesh flown in the middle of two flags of Argentina where the flags of Argentina were as long as 6 feet long whilst the Bangladesh Flag was only 1 feet long approximately.
In addition Rule 9 states about the use of foreign flags. On the reading of this rule it seemed to me, there are restrictions on the use of foreign flags but it is to be noted that the law was made in 1972 and today it is a whole different world we live in since there is globalisation, there is internet as such use of foreign flags during the football world cup or cricket world cup is far from being restricted. However, since there are existing rules with regards to how flags should be flown, I am sure none of us wants to get into trouble with the law enforcing agencies for flying a flag without following the rules.
The writer is a Research Assistant at Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA).