Is it Eid today in Matiranga?

Burned down house of an indigenous family at Matiranga. Source: bdnews24
Burned down house of indigenous families at Matiranga. Source: bdnews24

Is it Eid today in Matiranga?
By Tibra Ali for AlalODulal.org

Is it Eid today? Is it the end of Ramadan?

I remember when I was a child what excitement it was to spot the sliver of new moon at the end of Ramadan that would spell Eid the next day! For a Bangladeshi Muslim child there couldn’t be a more fun day than Eid. We were told when we were children that none of our neighbours or friends may go hungry or be unhappy on Eid day, irrespective of their religions, caste or status. And that it was our duty as Muslims to seek out and help those in need so that they too can celebrate Eid with equal joy.

Yet, today, I can’t feel any cause for rejoicing or celebrating with other Bangladeshi Muslims the end of Ramadan. I am thinking of all the indigenous families of Matiranga – men, women and children – who have taken refuge near the Indian border after Bengali Muslims burned down their homes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These crimes against ethnic minorities have gone unpunished so far and they will go unpunished as they have for decades now.

How are they spending their Eids, our Pahari (‘hill people’) neighbours? What new clothes are their children wearing on Eid? Are they spending their Eid day worrying whether they are going to get back their lands again? Are they afraid to go back and claim their own lands and their burnt down huts? Do they have enough to eat?

No, no more Eid Mubarak, no more Shubho Nobo Borsho (‘happy new year’ in Bengali) for me. Not until the Paharis of Bangladesh get their lands and lives back.

From now on I refuse to take part in an identity that facilitates and remains silent about ethnic cleansing.

5 comments

  1. It may be EID for Bengali Muslims, but not an occasion of festivity for the vulnerable indigenous people. This is such a tragedy and similar and bigger tragedies, including deaths and destruction, are going to inevitably happen in the future. There is no solution in sight that I can see accept Bengali settlers taking over nearly all of the CHT and the indigenous people becoming a very small minority and the wider society in Bangladesh and the world community helping them to survive and preserve their culture and lifestyle, to a pathetically inadequate degree. This is what is going to be the outcome if things continue to move according to recent processes and trends.

    This tragedy will be similar to what the natives in America, Australia and New Zealand experienced, although the process of taking over of non Bengali people’s lands in CHT is different. Putting a lot of Bengali settlers, some of whom are poor and have been landless, into the CHT was a very wrong thing to do, but the ordinary people who live there have nowhere to go. Bengali, by being in CHT, is increasing their population and pushing more and more indigenous out of their way. This is a recipe for disaster.

    CHT belongs to the indigenous groups and tribes who have lived there for generations before Bengali setters were taken there, to engineer a racial takeover. Although the above prediction is an inevitable outcome, based on recent and current processes, this does not have to happen. If we are serious, based on the principle that taking over other people’s lands is wrong and there should be complete justice, equality and respect, then we should think hard to find a happy solution.

    INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN BANGLADESH CONSIST OF MANY SMALL GROUPS AND IT SHOULD BE OUR DUTY TO PROTECT AND SAFEGUARD THEM, NOT TO DESTROY THEM OR BE COMPLICIT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, IN THEIR DESTRUCTION. MINORITIES NEED PROTECTION WHEN FACED WITH AN AGGRESSIVE MAJORITY, BUT WHO WILL PROVIDE OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE THE PROTECTION THEY NEED?

  2. Will we get even a tenth of the sympathy displayed here for the Rohingya Muslims fleeing far greater persecution and ethnic cleansing from Burma and are treated abominably the Awami League government? Or is that different because they are Muslims and their persecutors are non-Muslims?

    • Stale strawman argument from Tec15. There is always more sympathy in the Bangladeshi body politic for Muslim/Bengali victims. That’s the hegemony, of which you are also a member. Non-Muslim or Non-Bengali victims are always ignored/erased. One blog post on AlalODulal does not change that. The mainstream does not give a damn about the Paharis, and almost all of them will immediately say, just like you, “what about the Muslims in Burma, Kashmir, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan,… bla bla bla”

      • “There is always more sympathy in the Bangladeshi body politic for Muslim/Bengali victims”
        Not in the secularist/leftist intelligentsia which has fully signed up with the Awami League’s anti-Rohingya agenda and is always eager and ready to accuse them of being “terrorists”, “fundamentalists”, “criminals” and basically regurgitate every scurrilous bit of propaganda about them originating from the Burmese Regime. This site is simply part of that larger body politic that will always go out of it’s way in ignoring the plight of people like the Rohingya since apparently the “Islamists” have shown sympathy for them. No. if you want to prove your “progressive” bonafides you can only express sympathy for non-Muslim people. Wouldn’t want to be part of the “hegemony” oh no. “Muslim victims” are only welcome when other Muslims can be tagged as their oppressors which is (inconveniently) not the case for the Rohingya. If only the had the foresight to be oppressed by the “Beards”, than the secularists/leftists would be falling over themselves to champion them.

        Oh, by the way, will Mr. Tibria Ali also refrain from celebrating May Day until all the Communist Regimes in the world end their reign of tyranny? I was wondering what the link was between the Paharis and Eid.

  3. Until we redefine the state as that which does not belong to Bengali Muslims only, none of this can change. The double negation of our history has to be creative and encompassing and not lead to our current parochial identity building on a continued violence to doubly purify the state.

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