An Unfinished Story of Enforcing Citizenship Rights
Book Title: Statelessness and Citizenship
Editor(s): Blitz, K. Brad; Lynch, Maureen
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
ISBN (hard cover): 9781849800679
Section: Chapter 7
Section Title: The Urdu-speakers of Bangladesh : An Unfinished Story of Enforcing Citizenship Rights
Author(s): Southwick, Katherine
Number of pages: 27
7. The Urdu-speakers of Bangladesh : an unfinished story of enforcing citizenship rights Katherine Southwick
Source: © Greg Constantine 2010.
Figure 7.1 Overcrowding plagues every camp. Living conditions are cramped and pose safety and health problems as families, some as large as 15, live in 8 x 10 feet living spaces. In a room decorated with old newspapers glued to the walls, a family of seven lives and works in Kurmi Tola Camp in Dhaka .
Members of the Urdu-speaking minority in Bangladesh have always had a right to citizenship under national law, but the challenge has come from enforcing that right and the benefits that attach to it. Bangladeshi courts have recognized Urdu-speakers as citizens in successive cases
115 �116 Statelessness and citizenship
over the years. However, since the country gained independence from
Pakistan in 1971, the state has failed to acknowledge them as citizens
on a broad political and administrative level. This protracted disconnect between law and policy has made the group's status uncertain, effectively stateless. For nearly four decades, the unwillingness of either government, Bangladeshi or Pakistani , to formally recognize this community as citi- zens has rendered an estimated 160 000500 000 people vulnerable to extreme poverty and without equal access to education, health services and livelihoods. Time, however, as well as the accretion of case law, has confirmed this group's citizenship. Since the most recent 2008 High Court deci- sion ordering government agencies to register individuals to vote and to issue national ...