Leaders representing various ethnic minority groups have demanded a constitutional recognition of their ethnicity, in place of an amendment that imposed Bangali nationalism on their communities.
They made their demand at a symbolic protest in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sunday.
Leaders of Democratic Youth Forum, Greater Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Student’s Council (PCP), Hill Women’s Federation, and United Workers Democratic Front (UWDF) took part in the demonstration.
Presided over by Democratic Youth Forum General Secretary Jiko Tripura, Hill Women’s Federation President Nirupa Chakma and PCP General Secretary Sunon Chakma addressed the event.
“Bangladesh is a multi-lingual, multi-cultured country. But the Awami League government imposed ‘Bangali nationality’ with the 15th Amendment to the constitution in 2011,” Jiko Tripura said.
Quoting the sixth paragraph of the amendment, he said that without giving any sort of recognition to minority ethnicities, it says the people of Bangladesh will be known as Bangali as a nationality and they would be identified as Bangladeshi as a citizen.
“People from all ethnicity are the citizens of Bangladesh, but in terms of nationality, we are ethnic not Bangali,” he added.
“Ethnic communities, including the people of the hill tracts, will never accept Bangali nationalism,” Sunon Chakma said.
They also demanded release of United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) central leaders and activists, including its central leader Ananda Prakash Chakma, and to find out the whereabouts of missing UPDF leader Michael Chakma.