From: Kapaeeng Foundation <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 8 October 2010 06:53
Subject: Govt urged to recognise indigenous peoples in constitution
New Age, 8 October 2010
Politicians, jurists and academics at a discussion on Thursday called on the government to incorporate provisions for distinctive identity and rights of the ethnic minority communities in the constitution, now in the process of being amended, after the annulment of the fifth and seventh amendments.
They said if Bangladesh wanted to be identified as an inclusive, pluralistic democratic country, all the 45 small ethnic groups would need to be recognised in the constitution along with their custom, language and cultural distinction.
They came up with the views at the discussion on the 'context of constitutional recognition to the adivasis and its relevance' organised by the Kapaeeng Foundation and the Manusher Jonno Foundation in the CIRDAP auditorium.
They suggested implementation of all clauses of the CHT accord in full and announcement of a clear process and timeline for the job and establishment of agencies and departments needed to effectively implement the accord.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, adviser to the Kapaeeng Foundation, read out the keynote paper where he demanded constitutional recognition of all small ethnic groups, recognition of their traditional ownership to land and their representation in policy-making bodies to bring an end to the existing disparity they were facing.
Former Supreme Court judge Golam Rabbani, who presided over the discussion, requested the government to recognise ethnic minorities in the constitution by bringing about a new amendment. He also asked the CHT land dispute resolution commission to understand that ethnic minority people believe in social ownership of land.
The Workers Party of Bangladesh president, Rashed Khan Menon, said movements demanding constitutional recognition should be made strengthened and the government should ensure their rights in keeping with its electoral pledges.
Gana Forum presidium member Pankaj Bhattacharya said the image of the government would be brightened if it would recognise ethnic minorities in the constitution.
Journalist Syed Abul Maksud, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, Adivasi Forum organising secretary Shaktipada Tripura, Dhaka University teacher Obaidul Haque, rights activist Rosaline Costa, researcher Partha Shankar Saha and Tandra Chakma also joined the discussion conducted by Rabindranath Soren.
The Daily Star, 8 October 2010
Court has nothing to do with constitutional amendments
Terming the debate over amendment of the constitution "unnecessary," Workers Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon MP yesterday said only the parliament has the authority to amend it.
"Only the parliament can amend the constitution and the court has nothing to do with amendment to the constitution, it (the court) has just declared the martial law proclamations illegal," he said while addressing a discussion on the constitutional recognition of indigenous community.
Almost everybody is getting involved in an "unnecessary debate" over the amendment, said Menon, also a member of the special committee of the parliament for constitutional amendment.
He said the indigenous community should be recognised in the constitution.
"Indigenous people do not want to identify themselves as tribal rather want to be termed indigenous people and the matter should be settled after discussion with them," he said.
Manusher Jonno Foundation and Kaapeng Foundation jointly organised the discussion titled 'Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous People: Context and Relevance' at Cirdap Auditorium in the city.
Mangal Kumar Chakma, adviser of Kaapeng Foundation, presented the keynote paper.
Columnist and researcher Syed Abul Maksud said the indigenous people would get their rights of self-identity through recognition in the constitution.
The indigenous people should be recognised in the constitution after discussion with all concerned in such a way so that no controversy can arise in the future, he said.
Shaktipada Tripura, organising secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), said no one can say indigenous people as "tribal" as the community is termed "ethnic minority" in the law, passed by the government recently, about the cultural institutions of indigenous people.
Both the constitutional recognition of the indigenous people and at the same time its implementation is important, he said.
Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said before including the provisions about indigenous community in the constitution, discussions should be organised with the representatives of the indigenous people.
Pankaj Bhattacharya, vice president of Sammilito Shamajik Andolan and Ayesha Khanam, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, also spoke at the discussion chaired by Justice Ghulam Rabbani.
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
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