In a letter of 22 November the newly formed platform for Dalits and other excluded groups in Bangladesh – Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement – make 15 demands to the political parties and coming government. The platform demands inclusion in the country’s decision making processes, a criminalization of “untouchablility practices” and an increase in health and education services for the marginalised Dalit community. Caste hierarchies and discrimination permeate both Muslim and Hindu populations in Bangladesh, and caste affected communities are among the most marginalised.
Elections in Bangladesh are set for 29 December and hopes are high that the country will move away from two years of emergency rule. Principles of secularism and protection of minority and basic human rights have been under pressure in recent years, including the constitutional safeguards given after Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. The Dalit platform therefore strongly urges the coming elected government to address the political, social and economic rights of Dalits and other excluded groups in the country.