“Become Human Again”
By Faruk Wasif for Prothom Alo, Translated by Humayun Kabir for AlalODulal.org
In this damned country life cannot sustain. In this land of death justice also cannot live. Today in Bangladesh, the only difference between the living and the dead is that the pains and fears of the dead have come to an end; the living are still suffering. According to Semitic creation myth we are all descendants of a killer. Of the two sons of Adam one murdered the other. After killing childless Habil, only Kabil’s descendants have survived to populate the earth. In this religious myth, murder of a brother by a brother is human kind’s original sin. Bangladesh today is the safe-heaven for realizing this original sin in practice.
Those who threw a petrol-bomb into a bus at Shahbag to light up the commuters returning home knew that those human beings were blame-less. Those who are wrecking havoc throughout the country also know that those who are suffering are innocent and harmless. The government also knows that ordinary human beings are paying the price for its stubborn and uncompromising policies of holding onto power. Those who killed Towki were also certain that Towki was innocent. The animal selected for sacrifice must be without blemish or flaws; the sacrificial lamb must be innocent and mute. Without offering the blood of the innocent how else would the worship of political gods and goddesses be completed?
No one is ever punished; no one suffers the consequences. In the last round, during the Awami League’s strikes, bus-passengers were burnt to death using gunpowder. In this round, of the nineteen burnt by petrol-bomb at Shahbag two have passed way; they rest are on the long and unbearable road to death. Over the past nine months about three hundred fifty human beings have been killed by political violence. These human beings had lives; these lives were part of small universes made up of thousand ties of love, affection, and intimate relations. Every murder is also a destruction of their individual universes. After Ekattor (1971) there was a large population of the families and loved ones of the victims of genocide. They never forgot what was done to their loved ones.
During the 42 years of Independent Bangladesh evermore number of people have become victims of political violence and cruelties of profit motive. They will not forget easily the heart wrenching memory of their loved ones’ death-pangs. A black shroud of inexplicable pain will hang over them and all the others. Their wounds are being assaulted by the absence of justice. The accused in the Rana Plaza case are being let off the hook with weak charges; they are being freed on bail. The trials did not even begin for Delwar Hossain and others accused in the Tazrin case. In the meantime Shamim Osman of Naraynganj, accused for murdering teenage Towki, has become a candidate in parliamentary elections. His party, the Awami League, gladly issued his nomination. If Shamim Osman gets nominated, won’t every mother in the country shudder the way Towki’s mother must have? Won’t the old wound of Rafiur Rabbi, pushing on with demands for justice for his murdered son despite threats to his own life, bleed again?
As the number of murdered and assaulted is increasing, so is the number of murderers and oppressors with impunity. As the killers are becoming more audacious the people are becoming more frightened. What can we, who are the passengers in commuter buses and who must dare to step outside our homes despites the strikes and sieges in order to make a living, do then? Children are being used to carryout the bomb attacks. Government is busy hiding behind the layers of protection provided bye the Police and the BGB. Mugging and looting are on the rise. As government is busy protecting itself, criminals of all stripes are striking to make the most out of the opportunity.
This is the optimal opportunity to plot a takeover of the homes and Mandirs of the Hindus. So, their homes and Mandirs are being attacked. No one seems to be able to stop it. Humanity is dying openly in Bangladesh. All the proverbs and old sayings have becomes lies. Neither the criminal nor who tolerate crimes faces any wrath of the gods. Instead, the government protects and absolves the killers here and ordinary masses burn.
Democracy does not mean only the right to vote. Democracy means equal rights for all citizens. It means security of life and property of all citizens. Democracy means freedom of expression and beliefs for all citizens. Both of these rights are now under attack. Both the majority and minority communities are suffering from insecurity. When most people of the country are living terror-stricken lives, the robbers and criminals and their families are quite safe either within the country or outside. They have their sources income in the country and have their “home, sweet home” in some other country.
A bizarre situation has been created in the country. Ordinary masses are being victimized and harmed by the political program of parties, who themselves are victims of political oppression by the government. One side is burning the constitution the other is burning lives. Both sides have valid points and logics. The intellectuals and spokesmen from both sides are killing each other in the battle of rhetoric. So much intellect, so many arguments, so much civility! But, where is truth, where is justice, where is humanity? They are nowhere. The logic that doesn’t contain message of freedom, the promise of freedom that lacks the courage of truth, the brave speech that doesn’t soothe anxieties, they are all meaningless, empty. The two parties are like two mountain goats; they are so occupied with fighting each other that they don’t even realize that both of them are about to fall off the cliff. You can afford to stay willfully unaware, you may have your India or America, you may have your dreams of political inheritance; but we have only one life, we have only one country, we have only one expectation: an independent, sovereign, prosperous, and peaceful Bangladesh.
Supporters of the Awami League say that this is the second liberation war. During the Liberation War the nation’s best were in the front line and provided the leadership. In contrast, it’s very difficult to respect or admire those occupying the center stages or the television screens. Moreover, how can a war against your own countrymen be a war of liberation? Supporters of BNP say that this is another moment for Noor Hossain in the fight for Democracy; this is the time when we will have to carry the slogan “Gonotontro Mukti Pak (let democracy be liberated)” on our backs and stomachs. Today we see in the newspapers and television channels that mothers of Noor Hossain and Dr. Milon are still crying; they are remonstrating that democracy has not yet been liberated. An identified autocrat is enjoying the blessings and support of the democratic government! BNP have not inspired another Noor Hossain for democracy; it has only succeeded in inspiring bomb-throwers. Whoever wins this fight between the two parties, it is certain that democracy will not win in any way; Bangladesh will not win.
There is no people, no citizen, and no human being in Bangladesh right now. Their existences have been negated. Our workers are slave-workers; the state earns dollars by selling their labor at slave prices either in the garment factories within the country or as unskilled laborer abroad. A state based on slave labor can never be democratic. The constitution of the country can be changed on whims of those in power. Citizens are shorn of their rights also on whims. They are counted only as subjects of rule or, worst yet, as homo sacer. According to Roman Imperial law a group of people were accorded the legal status of “homo sacer;” they were neither slaves nor fully citizens. Killing them was not considered a crime for they were more like animals; anything could have been done to them. Are we not being treated the same way?
The people get the rulers they deserve. French political scientist Alexis De Tocqueville has argued that once a group of people, who have been oppressed for long time, come know of alternative possibilities, they come to think of their oppressions as intolerable and strive to change their lots. For us the opposite has happened. We have tolerated all kinds of misdeeds for a long time and we have seen our hopes of change being crushed time and time again. Now we have become indifferent and all accepting. If we don’t change, our leaders won’t change.
We, the passengers on commuter busses, are also human. Many of us children like Towki and we have the fear of loosing them. The best times of the lives our 40/50 million youth are bing destroyed. In political environment like ours people loose not only their respect but also their self-confidence. In fear of people like Shamim Osman the entire country has become cornered. But we cannot let this country become Rana Plaza. We will not tolerate moving “Tazrins” on our streets. We were once humans. We want to become human again by resisting the inhuman.
জীবন ও আগুন
‘আবার তোরা মানুষ হ’
পোড়ার দেশে জীবন জিয়ে না। মরার দেশে ইনসাফ বা ন্যায়ও বাঁচে না। আজ বাংলাদেশে জীবিত ও মৃতের মধ্যে পার্থক্য এতটুকুই যে মৃতের যন্ত্রণা ও ভয়ের সমাপ্তি হয়েছে; জীবিতরা এখনো ভুগছে। সেমেটিক সৃষ্টিতত্ত্বে আমরা সবাই খুনির বংশধর। আদমের দুই সন্তানের একজন আরেকজনকে খুন করেছিল। নিঃসন্তান হাবিলকে খুন করার পর কাবিলের বংশধরেরাই পৃথিবী ভরিয়ে ফেলে। ধর্মীয় মিথে ভাইয়ের হাতে ভাই হত্যা মানবজাতির আদি পাপ। আর বাংলাদেশে বাস্তবিকই সেই আদি পাপের অভয়ারণ্য।
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