Human Rights Violation of Biharis in Bangladesh

Topics: Human rights, Bangladesh, Law Pages: 69 (20665 words) Published: January 19, 2013

Statement of the problem :
Bangladesh is an impoverished country of over 160 million people. In its short history as an independent nation, Bangladesh has faced a major civil war, massive internal displacement, famines and frequent natural disasters. In addition, Bangladesh is hosting over 500,000 Biharis and in recent years it recognized the nationality rights of large numbers of Urdu-speaking minority.

About half a million Urdu speaking people known as in Bangladesh as ‘Bihari’ or ‘Stranded Pakistanis’ currently live in 66 camps spread all over the country. They have become a marginally displaced community since 1971. The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 put these people in a stateless situation. Although they are residing in “refugee camps,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not recognize them as refugees. Therefore, they are deprived of the benefits and opportunities extended to the refugees by the UNHCR. As a consequence, the stranded Biharis in Bangladesh face multiple problems. Despite this recent progress, however, 37 years of non-recognition have left the Biharis living in abject poverty and vulnerable to discrimination.

Human rights violation of stranded Biharis in our country is common scenery. These people are in the museum of exploitation. The Bihari camps are mainly in urban areas and are beset by severe overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of basic facilities. The slum like conditions in these settlements have worsened over the years as the population has grown. With inadequate provision for clean water, waste disposal and sewage systems, they are chronic hygiene problems. Camp residents face discrimination in the job market and a severe lack of education and health- care facilities hampers community development. Discrimination and poverty are the key elements that lead to anti social activities They are still denied access to a Bangladeshi passport. No NGOs or UN agencies have taken the initiative to collect comprehensive baseline data from which to develop both short- and long term programmes for the social and economic rehabilitation of this community. In spite of getting citizenship document no changes have been made in the everyday life of camps as well as strategy and the policy of the government seems to be unchanged. What does it mean; are Biharis non citizens in the process of Digital Bangladesh that their national ID card and citizenship documents are not enough to prove them citizen?

As a conscious citizen of Bangladesh and also as a student of Peace and Conflict Studies Department, I am very much interested in this field for doing a fruitful research. Because, I think at present time, this stranded Biharis is a great national concerning issue. If they remain marginal for a long time, our national security might be hampered and they can pose a serious threat to our socio- economic development. So in my research, I would like to focus that their current situation must be improved through the various initiatives of state Government, NGOs and other International Organizations.

1.1 Background of the Study:
The case of the Biharis in Bangladesh is different from other cases of denial of citizenship because the government considered them as a foreign group of individuals that ought to return to Pakistan. In fact Biharis never resided in Pakistan, but originally entered East Pakistan as refugees fleeing India at the time of its accession to independence. Their movement to East Pakistan was due to a desire to escape from communal bloodshed and “to preserve their Islamic way of life”. They also saw Hijrat (migration) as an escape from the possibility of living in a Hindu majority India.

Actually, the history of the Bihari goes back to the partition of India in 1947. During the period of united Pakistan (1947-1971), the Urdu-speaking Biharis were not incorporated with in the society of East Pakistan and remained as a...
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