UCAN needs your support
You are why we do what we do - report, describe, comment, review. It is to bring to your eyes just what life is like for believers across Asia that we publish UCAN.
But as you know, the effort needs to be sustained if it is to have continuing effect.
UCAN publishes some 150 stories a week in four languages across six websites. We are grateful to benefactors in Europe and the US who support us. But those countries and the Church there are under increasing financial strain and their generosity no longer covers our costs.
We need financial help from our readers to sustain our efforts. Our reporters, editors, video producers and photographers all have families and we need to support them. They do excellent jobs, but they can't do their jobs for nothing.
Will you help us to sustain UCAN? Please click here to help.
Thanks in anticipation.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Minority groups call for new ministry
Minorities also seek more parliament seats
- ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
- September 4, 2012
At a press conference in Dhaka, the leaders also called for the allocation of 50 seats in parliament for minority legislators.
â€śWithout state backing and political empowerment itâ€™s tough to claim lawful rights. Minorities are often disadvantaged and tortured because the majority takes for granted that they are weak,â€ť said advocate Govinda Chandra, secretary-general of the Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance.
â€śIf we had a separate ministry like those ofÂ India and Pakistan, we could have a forum to express our pains and grievances,â€ť he said.
Nur Khan, acting executive director of the national rights group Ain-O-Salish Kendra, said violence against minorities â€“ particularly Hindus â€“ has increased in recent months.
Khan said the rights group has documented five cases of rape against minority women, 37 incidents of land grabbing, dozens of instances of vandalism against homes and businesses, and 30 attacks on temples in the last eight months.
â€śIn total, five minority people were killed and 91 were injured in the attacks, while 23 people have suffered enforced disappearance,â€ť Khan said.
Chandra said that existing minority leaders have not been effective in fighting for the rights of their constituents.
â€śThe ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have leaders from minority communities, but they care too much for the parties and too little for their communities. It is because they belong to the privileged class,â€ť he said.
There are now 16 minority lawmakers in parliament: 14 Hindus, one Christian and one Buddhist.
The parliament, or Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad, has a total of 300 seats. In addition, it has 45 seats reserved for women, which are elected by the 300 parliamentarians.
Nirmol Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said a new ministry and more parliamentary seats remain longstanding demands from minorities.
â€śWithout empowering minority groups, a nation canâ€™t prosper,â€ť Rozario said.
Ajit Ranjan Barua, president of the Bangladesh Buddhist Association, said that despite some problems, the minorities' lot is improving.
â€śTheir lawful rights in education and jobs are being met. The violence has slumped, but there are some isolated incidents that could be better addressed with a new ministry,â€ť Barua said.
Dr. Nurul Amin, professor of political science at Dhaka University, said greater representation for minorities was an important step for Bangladesh â€śto become a true democracy.â€ť
But Suranjit Sengupta, a Hindu and senior Awami League parliamentarian, said the government is doing enough to protect minorities without creating a new ministry.
â€śThe present government is very sincere about minorities. To secure their life, property and rights, it is working it all out,â€ť Sengupta said, but added that future proposals can be discussed.
Rally protests new Hindu marriage law
Minorities hope for true land reform
Minorities denounce charter changes