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‘Pledges made to minorities forgotten’

Pledges made to minorities forgotten: leaders
The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council organises a daylong hunger strike at Shahbagh in Dhaka on Saturday demanding implementation of the election pledges made by the Awami League. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council has demanded quick implementation of the promises related to minority interests that the Awami League made in the 2018 election manifesto.

The Council announced a programme to march towards the Prime Minister’s Office on January 7 in 2023 and hand over a memorandum to prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina if their demands are not fulfilled by this time.
Manindra Kumar Nath, acting general secretary of the the largest organisation of the minority communities in Bangladesh, announced the programme after a day-long hunger strike at Shahbagh in Dhaka on Saturday.
The leaders and activists of the organisation will come to Dhaka from different areas of the country and join the march towards PMO from Shahbagh at 3:00pm on January 7, Manindra said.
Leaders and activists of the platform put forward the demands at a day-long mass hunger strike, which started at 6am on Saturday, in front of the National Museum in the capital’s Shahbag area.
The ruling party’s promises include the enactment of Minority Protection Act, Elimination of Discrimination Act, Intestate Property Conservation Act, formation of the National Commission for Minorities, proper implementation of the Transfer of Entrusted Property Act, Hill Peace Accord and Hill Land Commission Act and setting up separate land commissions.
The present government is yet to deliver on a single promise, the Oikya Parishad leaders alleged. They further said every government forgets the election manifesto after coming to power.
Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon, former justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik, economist Debapriya Battacharya, human right activists Shahriar Kabir and Khushi Kabir, among others, spoke at the hunger strike venue, expressing solidarity with the minorities.
The Council organised day long hunger strike on Saturday across the country demanding their 7-point charter of demands. In the capital city Dhaka, the Oikya Parishad sat on hunger strike at the busy Shahbag intersection demanding the implementation of ruling Awami League’s election manifesto and to stop sectarian violence against the minority communities.
The speakers at the hunger strike said that people from all religions and communities fought for the liberation of Bangladesh and they sacrificed their lives for the motherland. Persecution of minorities goes against the spirit of the Liberation War.
Eminent economist Debapriya Bhattacharya expressed solidarity with the demands of the Oikya Parishad and said that implementation of the demands will be possible with the united action of all the people.
Association for Land Reform in Bangladesh (ALRD) Executive Director Shamsul Huda said, “Fifty-two years after independence, minority people are being forced to hold mass hunger strikes for such demands, which were supposed to be realised. It is a matter of sorrow that every government forgets the election manifesto after coming to power.”
Workers Party politburo member and Member of Parliament Mustafa Lutfullah said, “Not even a single trial over communal violence has finished so far. If there had been a trial, this kind of violence would have stopped.”
Earlier on 24 March this year, the Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad submitted a memorandum, signed by nearly two and a half lakh people, to the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding the execution of the promises made in the election manifesto.
As there was no initiative to implement the promises, they held protest rallies across the country on 16 July. Then, they arranged simultaneous mass hunger strikes across the country.
The mass hunger strikes were observed in other towns and cities of including Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Pabna, Nilphamari, Manikganj, Netrakona, Rangpur, Gopalganj, Jhalakathi and Bhairab among others.
The minority leaders and activists ended their hunger strike with drinking water provided by former chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh Prof Mizanur Rahman.
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