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PCP marks National Education Day

News No. 150/2008, September 19, 2008

The Hill Student’s Council, better known by its Bengali acronym PCP, marked National Education Day on 17 September, calling upon the government to introduce ethnic people’s languages in primary education system in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

To observe the Day, the PCP, a front organistion of the United Peoples Democratic Front, took out a procession and held a rally on Dhaka University campus.

The procession started at 11:30 am and paraded the arts faculty on the campus before holding the rally.

Held in front of the Aparajeyo Bangla sculpture and presided over by the PCP president Ricoh Chakma, the rally was addressed among others by Kyolaching Marma, central organising secretary of the PCP, Ms Kanica Dewan, organising secretary of the HWF, Samiul Alam Richi, president of Bangladesh Chattra Federation and Nurur Islam Shiplu, president of Biplobi Chattra Jubo Andolon.

The speakers were introduced by Aungyo Marma, General Secretary of the PCP.

The PCP president Ricoh Chakma in his speech said the successive governments of the country have not only neglected the cultures and languages of the ethnic Jumma people in the CHT, but also took measures to destroy them.

He said it is the responsibility of any democratic government to protect and promote the cultures and languages of the ethnic minorities, but unfortunately except Bangla no other languages have been recognized in the constitution of Bangladesh.

He called upon the government to accept his organisation’s five-point demand relating to education and introduce primary education in ethnic people’s languages in the CHT.

Ms Kanica Chakma urged all concerned including the government to stop airing on the TV and radio statements and remarks that show disrespect to the ethnic nationalities.

Kyolaching Marma said although Bangladesh is a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country, the ethnic nationalities are not recognized in the constitution of Bangladesh. “Our languages are on the verge of extinction. Yet, the government has done noting to protect them.” He also made a fervent plea to the government, print and electronic media to refrain from referring to the Jumma people as “Upajati” or tribe. He said such a reference is the most offensive to the ear of the Jumma people.

Nurur Islam Shiplu said the ruling classes of Bangladesh are ultra nationalist, and they are out to impose their own hegemonic policies upon other ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities of the country. He said there can be no national, linguistic and gender equality unless a progressive and revolutionary government is installed.

Samiul Alam Richi said side by side with the Bengali people, other ethnic peoples and nationalities also fought in the war of independence, but the ruling classes which usurped state power after independence refused to give recognition to their existence and tried to impose Bengali identity on them. “As a result, the Jumma people in the CHT had to take up arms and wage a guerrilla war to defend their rights.” he said.

He said the CHT is far from peaceful and “the people are still being subjected to repression.”

He supported the five-point demand of the PCP and urged the government to concede to these most fundamental demands.

chtnews.com is an independent and voluntary online news service dedicated to projecting and analyzing the current events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people’s struggle for the right to self-determination. For further information please contact at: chtnewsonline@gmail.com

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