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Supportive Statement on the slogan “Stop Religious Minorities cleansing”
Prepared by: Jhuma Halder
“There is no God but God in human being” – The human mind moves
forward and religion being the chief hand of human society. Religion is a faith
established by some gospel or saint or prophet. It also expects to keep human society
united. Therefore, it should be itself a united force.
There is no satisfactory universal definition of the term minority. Nonetheless, the word
majority and minority are used by proportionate differences among different religions.
The absence of a definition has neither precluded standard setting or promotional
activities nor hindered the establishment and work of the working groups on minorities. It
is undoubtedly confess that all the majority and minorities is human being.
Rights based approach:
According to Black’s Law Dictionary the definition of minorities is a group of people-
differentiation in some respect (such as race or religious belief) from the majority and
that is sometimes treated differently as a result a member of such group. It may be
applied to a group of people that has been traditionally discriminated against or socially
suppressed even if its members are in the numerical majority in an area.
In Bangladesh context article 28 and 29 of Bangladesh Constitution, there is a word
“under privileged”, “disadvantaged people” belonging to religious and ethnic group of
people, marginalized and socially and economically victims of unequal application of
laws and also for “backward section” of citizens.
The rights of persons belonging to minorities is defined by the International Conventions,
such as United Nations Charter of 1945 Article-1 (3) says : “To achieve international co-
operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or
humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and
for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”
and 55 (C) provides “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 Article -2 “Everyone is entitled to all the
rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as
race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of
the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a
person belongs, whether it is independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other
limitation of sovereignty”. International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights Art 2
(1) “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all
individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the
present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
status” and International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 Art
-2: (2) “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the rights
enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind
as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, property, birth or other status”. ILO Convention concerning Discrimination in
Respect of Employment and Occupation no – 111 of 1958 Art – 2 “Each Member for
which this Convention is in force undertakes to declare and pursue a national policy
designed to promote, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice, equality
of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to
eliminating any discrimination in respect thereof”. International Convention on the
Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination of Education of 1960 Art – 1(1) “In
this Convention, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion,
restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which
has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political,
economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”. UNESCO Convention against
Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice of 1978 (Art – 1, 2 and 3), Declaration on the
Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or
Belief of 1981 (Art – 2), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 (Art-2)
non-discrimination provisions are contained.
Bangladesh has some obligations to bring national laws as well as administrative and
legal practice into line with their provisions. In addition, States undertake to submit
periodic reports the legislative, judicial, policy and other measures which they have taken
to ensure the enjoyment of interalia the minority specific rights contained in the relevant
instruments. But in practical scenario the State directly or indirectly patronized dominant
ethnic or religious or cultural groups by way of enacting insensitive laws, maneuvering
justice delivery system and exploiting existing political system, thereby, leaving the
minority groups at the most vulnerable stage. All these minority groups, on the basis of
religion, culture and linguafera are somehow marginalized in our society.
On the other hand, Bangladesh, as an Asian country, is facing various problems, like over
population, poverty, illiteracy, health related issues, struggling for establishing
democracy. From 90’s of the last century, some initiatives have already been taken to
improve the human rights situation in Asia and Pacific region. In continuation of this
improvement and enjoyment of fundamental human rights of the all citizens of
Bangladesh enacted many supportive laws while the Constitution was enforced. Some of
those laws are ensuring human rights of different section of the society protected and
guaranteed fundamental freedoms of Bangladesh ethnic and religious minorities.
However, now-a-days such freedoms are bearing no values in the absence of economic
development and social stability of the ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh.
Now the implementation of human rights in Bangladesh ethnic and religious minorities
was precluded by the fifth amendment of the constitution at a top of the preamble ‘a
religious word “Bismillahir Rahamanir Rahim”. At the same time, the People’s Republic
of Bangladesh Constitution does not explain the meaning of “backward sections of the
people” (article – 14 : Emancipation of peasants and workers). As a result, the
fundamental freedoms are not guaranteed at all levels as per international law because of
Amendment of the constitution.
1. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh Constitution
2. Black’s Law Dictionary
3. United Nations Charter of 1945
4. Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948
5. International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights
6. International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966
7. ILO Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and
Occupation no – 111 of 1958
8. International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial
Discrimination of Education of 1960
9. UNESCO Convention against Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice of 1978
10. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination
based on Religion or Belief of 1981
11. Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989
12. Human Rights, Minority Rights Fact Sheet No – 18 (Rev – 1) -50th
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 1948 -1998
13. Samad, Saleem, “State of Minorities in Bangladesh, from Secular to Islamic
Hegemony, Country paper presented at “ Regional Consultation on Minority
Rights in South Asia” – 20 -22 August – 1998, Katmandu, Nepal Organized by
South Asian Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) Katmandu.