Dalits in Bangladesh face severe national and social injustice, says Dr Mizanur Rahman, chairman of the country’s National Human Rights Commission.

NHRC chairman Dr. Mizanur Rahman

The government of Bangladesh should create an effective law aiming to change the social, political and economic conditions of the country’s Dalit community, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said last week.

Speaking at a seminar in Dhaka, Dr Mizanur Rahman noted that since the constitution is not properly implemented, “there is a need to form an act for Dalits to ensure their rights”. The NHRC chairman added that “it is imperative to raise a social, political and cultural movement to protect the rights of Dalits.”

There may be as many as 5.5 million Dalits in Bangladesh. Most of them live in poverty with extremely limited access to health services, education and employment. Their lives are particularly harsh due to the practice of caste discrimination.

Another speaker, Workers Party of Bangladesh chairman Rashed Khan Menon, accused the government of failing to take proper measures for the protection of Dalits and include them in the mainstream of the population. He urged Dalits to work towards the enactment of a law to protect their rights.

According to the acting chairman of the Law Commission, Dr Shah Alam, the commission would be able to prepare a draft law to remove discrimination against Dalits within two or three months and present it to the government.

The seminar was organised by Nagorik Uddyog, Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement (BDERM) and the Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Women’s Federation.

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National Human Rights Commission

Nagorik Uddyog