New platform of ethnic, linguistic minorities floated
Ethnic and linguistic minority groups along with leftist political parties on Monday floated a new platform with a vow to wage movement against repression on minorities and to establish their rights.
The announcement on the new forum, Jatisatta Mukti Sangram Parishad [action council for liberation of nationalities], came at the concluding session of the national convention to establish rights of the minorities at the Dhaka University Teachers-Students Centre.
A 34-memeber national council of the forum was also announced with a nine-member presidium at the end of the convention organised by the national committee against fascism and imperialism.
The convention declaration said, ‘Despite the existence of many national minorities in the country, only the nationalities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are politically organised. Despite having a glorious history of struggle, there is no political mobilisation of the minorities in the plain land. Availing the absence of political struggle against oppression, many non-governmental organisations, funded by imperialist axis, are working among them. Apparently, they are working for the oppressed communities but their intention is to hold back the national minorities from mobilising for progressive political struggle and set their agenda to realise such intention.’
‘Amid such a situation we are floating an organisation — Jatisatta Mukti Sangram Parishad from the convention,’ the declaration said.
The forum also vowed to establish a new democratic constitution for the people of Bangladesh along with new state machinery and governance by placing an 18-point charter of demands.
The demands include constitutional recognition of all ethnic and linguistic minorities and right to self-determination, formation of a nationality commission to identify the socio-economic and political problems of the minorities and planning solution to them, withdrawing military rule in Chittagong Hill Tracts and stopping Operation Uttaran, nullification of vested property act and abandoned property act, stopping eviction of national minorities from forests in the name of setting up national parks, safari park, reserved forest and social aforestation, withdrawal of cases filed against national minorities under forest act, protecting the rights of national minorities living in forests by amending forest act and wildlife protection act, stopping use of derogatory term of ‘upajati’ in documents and textbooks, issuing passport to Urdu speaking people, and publishing white paper of the killings of Alfred Soren, Piren Snal and Chalesh Richhil, abduction of Kalpana Chakma, and massacres at Logang, Naniyarchar and Langadu and trial of civil-military bureaucrats involved with the heinous acts.
Speaking in the concluding session, Marxist thinker Badruddin Umar called on the ethnic and linguistic group leaders to strengthen the organisation and wage movement to reach their goal.
United People’s Democratic Front president Prasit Bikash Khisa recalled the supreme sacrifice of Animesh Chakma, who was killed in a gun attack at Rangamati while mobilising people of the convention.
Akmal Hossain, general secretary of the national committee against fascism and imperialism, called on the delegates to reach out more national minorities and organise them under the new platform.