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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UPDF raises autonomy demand with Parliamentary Special Committee on Constitution Review

UPDF raises autonomy demand with Parliamentary Special Committee on
Constitution Review

News No. 135/2010, September 04, 2010

A team of the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) met with
Suranjit Sengupta, co-chair of the Parliamentary Special Committee on
Constitution Review and raised the demand of autonomy for Chittagong
Hill Tracts

The two-member team comprising UPDF central leaders Ujjal Smriti
Chakma and Shanti Dev Chakma met him at his office at Sangsad Bhaban
(Parliament Building) in the morning.

They were accompanied by delegates from the Committee for the
Protection of Adivasi Rights in Chittagong Hill Tracts and Khagrachari
Distirct Karbari Association, who also submitted two separate memos to
Mr. Sengupta.

The UPDF leaders handed him a memorandum signed by Prasit Bikash
Khisha, President of the UPDF.

The memo contained a six-point demand which includes, among others, an
insertion of a separate section called “Section 9th B” in the
constitution under the sub-title “Provisions relating to rights of
national minorities” and making a provision for an autonomous region
status for CHT.

In support of this particular demand the UPDF memo says that
Bangladesh is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country. An estimated
45 national minorities have been living side by side with the dominant
ethnic Bengalees. In order that we may be able to bring about unity
among all the ethnic groups of the country based on equal rights and
dignity, there is an urgent need of these people being recognized in
the constitution.

It says many countries in the world including the UK, Italy, Spain,
Finland, Portugal, Denmark, Indonesia, China and India have provided
special autonomy to their national minorities.

“It is high time that Bangladesh recognized the existence and rights
of the national minorities and makes special provisions in the
constitution. Bangladesh will never be able to move forward in the
twenty-first century while keeping the national minorities backward. A
real democracy can never be established in the country while putting a
repressive policy against them in place.” the memo added.

The second demand proposes to retain article 6(2) in the present form.
This article deals with the question of nationality of the citizens.

The UPDF memo proposes to insert a separate clause “d” after clause
“c” and making the following provisions: “Joint ownership, that is
traditional ownership of the national minorities of the Chittagong
Hill Tracts”.

The UPDF also demanded that the committee amends article 65 of the
constitution and makes provisions for the reservation of the
parliamentary seats of the CHT for the Jumma candidates as well as a
seat for Jumma women.

The UPDF demands that articles 141A, 141B and 142C, which empower the
government to declare a state of emergency, be repealed, saying “The
provision for declaring a state of emergency is contrary to the
concept of democracy, human rights and rule of law.”

Memo by other organisations
Two other organisations – Khagrachari District Karbari Association and
Committee for Protection of Adivasi Rights in Chittagong Hill Tracts –
also submitted two separate memorandums to Mr Suranjit Sengupta.

The Karbari Association urged the Parliamentary Special Committee on
Constitution Review to make provisions in the constitution for the
recognition of the national minorities and for a declaration of the
CHT as an Autonomous Area.

On the other hand, the Committee for Protection of Adivasi Rights made
a six-point demand including provisions for a special area status for

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