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.