Why we want our voice to be heard?


Friday, September 2, 2011

CHT, Bangladesh part from the Annual Report of USCIRF

CHT, Bangladesh part from the Annual Report of  USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom)

(This CHT, Bangladesh  part has been excerpted from the original report which can be downloaded from here: http://www.uscirf.gov/reports-and-briefs/annual-report/3594-2011-annual-report.html )

Following independence from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh was established as a secular state in which national identity was based on Bengali language and culture. The 1972 constitution established a secular state and guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience and equality before the law. Other provisions banned ―all kinds of communalism,‖ the misuse of religion for political purposes, and the forming of groups that ―in the name of or on the basis of any religion has for its object or pursues a political purpose.‖ Subsequent military regimes removed these provisions, made Islam the state religion, and made ―absolute trust and faith in Allah‖ one of the fundamental principles of state policy and ―the basis for all [government] actions.‖

Members of ethnic minority communities, mostly tribal peoples in the north and in the east, are often non- Muslim. The most serious and sustained conflict along ethnic and religious lines has been in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), an area with a high concentration of non-Bengali, non-Muslim indigenous peoples. Resentment among members of indigenous groups remains strong over settler encroachment on traditional tribal lands, human rights abuses by the Bangladeshi military, and the slow, inconsistent implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords. Muslim Bengalis, once a tiny minority in the CHT, now reportedly equal or outnumber indigenous groups. The CHT conflict began in the 1970s when the minority community protested that the government of Bangladesh recognized only Bengali culture and language and considered only ethnic Bengalis citizens of Bangladesh, thereby denying indigenous ethnic groups citizenship. Although the current Prime Minister declared after taking power that her government would keep past commitments to the predominantly non-Muslim indigenous peoples of the CHT region, the government has not enforced the CHT Accords and has not ensured that all members of all tribal communities are afforded the full rights of Bangladeshi citizenship.

USCIRF will continue to monitor how the Bangladeshi government strengthens protections for all Bangladeshis to enjoy the right to freedom of religion or belief, and how it undertakes further efforts to improve conditions for minority religious communities. These efforts would include: the government of Bangladesh working with representatives from civil society and affected religious minority communities to restore property seized under the Vested Property Act and fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accords; investigating and, to the fullest extent of the law, prosecuting perpetrators of violent acts against members of minority religious communities, women, and non-governmental organizations; and reforming the judiciary and the police to ensure that law enforcement and security services are equally protective of the rights of all, including Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Ahmadis, tribal peoples, and other minorities.

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