REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir HossainIndia’s WIRE magazine has published a timeline compiled by Alal O Dulal collective. The Sources are: The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide (Hurst), Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya (Nowhere People), Human Rights Watch, United Nations, Global Center for the … Continue reading Rohingya Timeline (1784-2017)
by Mujahidul Islam Selim
[Translated to English by the AlalODulal Editorial Collective]
Call-Ready — a very familiar name. In many images of Bangabandhu’s historic 7th March speech we have seen the Call-Ready logo emblazoned under the cluster of microphones. Let’s recount this untold but fascinating history of Call-Ready.
In depicting time and places historians often argue pivotal roles of religion. Regions across the planet had been defined through advent and subsequent religious conquests. Religious (and ethnic) tensions remain omnipresent as religious unrest reverberates many parts of the world. Continue reading “A reply on the Eaton thesis”
Our history is never still, and there are always processes of rewriting Bangladesh’s history. The best response to such history wars is to let the record speak, when possible. In an Alal O Dulal exclusive, we have translated a 37 page interview of Kamal Hossain (from Shaptahik magazine, 2014). This is the second part. Continue reading “History Wars: Kamal Hossain Interview (Part 2)”
“The anti-colonial struggle (even keeping aside other kinds of contemporaneous struggles for the moment) might start taking many more hues beyond the tri-colour.”
একাত্তরে স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্রে গীতিকার গোবিন্দ হালদারের লেখা সেই অবিস্মরণীয় গানগুলো হলো- ‘মোরা একটি ফুলকে বাঁচাব বলে…’, ‘এক সাগর রক্তের বিনিময়ে…’, ‘পূর্ব দিগন্তে সুর্য উঠেছে রক্ত লাল রক্ত লাল রক্ত লাল…’, ‘লেফট রাইট লেফট রাইট…’, ‘হুঁশিয়ার হুঁশিয়ার…’, ‘পদ্মা মেঘনা যমুনা তোমার আমার ঠিকানা…’, ‘চল বীর সৈনিক…’, ‘হুঁশিয়ার, হুঁশিয়ার বাংলার মাটি…’।
Continue reading “Red Salute to Gobinda Halder”
By Shafiqur Rahman for AlalODulal.org
Recently a friend, who is usually the image of equanimity, uncharacteristically expressed shock and disillusionment at the way the social and cultural elite of Dhaka comported themselves in the wake of the contempt of court verdict. Continue reading “The Long War”
By Kabir Suman for AlalODulal.org
In the 80s Kabir Suman was working as a journalist for the Voice of America, under the Reagan administration. This is an inside view from those times as he retraces the genesis of the rise of Taliban. This was written in the wake of the senseless heinous act of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Peshawar where they killed innocent school children in an army school. Continue reading “Kabir Suman on the origin of Taliban”
A Man of Peace
by Tanvir Haidar Chaudhury
‘He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist
He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed
He’ll put both his arms around you
You can feel the tender touch of the beast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace’ Continue reading “A Man of Peace”
“One of the reasons that so far GA and JI got all the leniency and privileges is partly due to the divisions in the anti JI, pro war crimes trials and Shahbagh/Projonmo Chottor lobbies.”
[Asif Munier is the son of Munier Chowdhury, a playwright and intellectual killed by Al Badr forces in 1971. He is the Vice President of Projonmo 71, an organization of the children of the martyrs of the liberation war of Bangladesh]
Continue reading “Munier Chowdhury’s Son Speaks”
“Barring people’s sincere, spontaneous participation –their right to which is unquestionable – the overblown Janaza event serves no real purpose other than being a spectacle. It serves itself. It does not reflect upon the Dead’s soul or their lives – but upon a desperate clutch at straws by an organized political force that is drowning; it sheds light upon a scheming, listless, heartless, mindless rush to maximize – even during mourning periods and at the cost of anyone around – brand equity and relevance in National Politics.”
What is harder to explain, however, are the actions of us independent Bangladeshis. The fact that we allowed him to return to the country he conspired against. The fact that he was allowed to stay here for 16 years – from 1978 to 1994 – on the passport of a foreign country and practice politics, when he did not even have a valid visa.
“A country whose soil is soaked in the blood of the martyrs, a country whose soil still bears witness to the history of genocide — the soil of that country will receive the body of the Captain of the Rajakars? How are we to answer to our conscience?”
But with all its manifold new words from other tongues, English could never have become anything but English. And as such it has sent out to the world, among many other things, some of the best books the world has ever known. Continue reading “Ahmed Shamim: Colonisation Of Bengali Language and Tagore – Open vs Rigid discourse”
Our history is never still, and there are always processes of rewriting Bangladesh’s history. The best response to such history wars is to let the record speak, when possible. In an Alal O Dulal exclusive, we have translated a 37 page interview of Kamal Hossain (from Shaptahik magazine, 2014). This is the first part.
Continue reading “History Wars: Kamal Hossain Interview (Part 1)”
The Killings at Bangladesh’s Bihari Camp – Murder Mystery or Murder with Impunity?
By Nadine Shaanta Murshid
There are multiple stories. We are either to believe one of them or cast aside the whole incident as an accident. The stories are important to note, however, given that each story has a different set of perpetrators and actors, as well as a different motive behind the killings. What remains unchanged in all these stories is this: 10 Urdu-speaking non-Bengali Bangladeshi citizens who live in ‘Kalshi’ were killed, 8 of the deceased are from the same family. Continue reading “The Killings at Bangladesh’s ‘Bihari Camp’ – Murder Mystery or Murder with Impunity?”
A Place to Call Home
A young girl writes a poem where she asks a simple question — one which no one can answer. She asks, “Who am I?” Her forefathers were born in India, they immigrated to Pakistan, she was born in Bangladesh. India has given up on them a long time back, Bangladesh will not accept them as the children of the land and Pakistan will not take them back. She says that she has many names ‘Bihari’, ‘Maura’, ‘Muhajir’, ‘Non-Bangalee’, ‘Marwari’, ‘Urdu-speaker’, ‘Refugee’, and ‘Stranded Pakistani’. But she only wants one: human. This is the state of being of the 1.6 lakh camp-based Urdu-speaking community in Bangladesh. Continue reading “A Place to Call Home”
It is due to the initiative of Professor Amalendu De that the grave of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, one of the vanguard thinkers of equity and rationalism in the subcontinent and a great spokesperson for human rights, was found in Sodepur, near Kolkata.
Continue reading “Remembering Historian Amalendu De”
Liberation through the Gunday lens
By Fahima Durrat for AlalODulal.org
Factual errors made in a fictitious storyline may seem like a trivial matter, but they can hide icebergs. The iceberg that showed its tip in the film Gunday seems to have reappeared again in the headlines of Indian newspapers. Bangladesh protests against “distortion” of history, they report. Those inverted commas reveal a deeper source of offence.
Bengal Textiles in Britain
By Muhammad Ahmedullah for AlalODulal.org
The English East India Company first visited Bengal in the early 1660s to purchase textiles. At that time Bengal was already a famed manufacturing centre of the finest cotton textiles in the world.
AlalODulal Editorial Board condemns in the strongest terms the violence that left at least 11 Urdu Speaking people (“Biharis”) dead. Anthropologist Dina Siddiqi’s research on the conditions of “stranded Pakistanis” (inaccurately called “Biharis,” but more accurately “Urdu speakers”) after 1971 is newly relevant. In the current discourse around the 1971 war, the fate of the Urdu speakers at war’s end is elided. It is one of the zones of silence because it does not fit with the Bangladeshi discourse around the war. Nor does it fit Pakistan’s convenient discourse, especially after a 2008 high court decision granted them Bangladeshi citizenship. We at AlalODulal feel it is crucial to highlight those left behind in multiple nation projects.
If trolling through history reveals involvement of youth in political or socioeconomic upheavals, in case of Bangladesh their raison d’etre has been simple and straightforward: to bring about (political) change. Continue reading “Placing the Voices of Shahbag in Modern Narratives of Transnational Youth Protest – Part 2”
The Glorious and Bloody History of Tamil Language Movement
By Shafiqur Rahman for AlaloDulal
There is a widespread misinformation in our country that we, Bengalis, are the only nation to shed blood for establishment of language rights. Anyone with familiarity with history and rise of nationalism in the last three centuries would know that language rights have been forefront in many struggles of national self-determination in Europe and Asia. Continue reading “The Glorious and Bloody History of Tamil Language Movement”
If trolling through history reveals involvement of youth in political or socioeconomic upheavals, in case of Bangladesh their raison d’etre has been simple and straightforward: to bring about (political) change. Continue reading “Placing the Voices of Shahbag in Modern Narratives of Transnational Youth Protest – Part 1”
December at the Pakistan Embassy
by Irfan Chowdhury for AlalODulal.org
December often sees an out-pouring of emotions in Bangladesh for the 1971 war. Continue reading “December at the Pakistan Embassy”
1971: Neither the Beginning nor the End of the Liberation War
by Anu Muhammad
Translated by Emon Sarwar for AlalODulal.org
1971 was neither the beginning of the war of liberation for the people of Bangladesh nor was it the end of it. 1971, the War of Independence, is a very important episode in the struggle for the liberation of the people of Bangladesh, or for that matter, the people of this region. Continue reading “1971, Neither the Beginning nor the End”
“So our old freedom fighter wanders the streets. He will go to the wrong meeting, the wrong gathering, the endless newspaper offices. Suddenly he will fly into a rage at a tea shop and start screaming…The more you travel downwards in our classist society, the more this hate [for war criminals], this obstinate rage. And in the upper echelons, only honey and unity.” Continue reading “Our old freedom fighter wanders the streets”
by Navine Murshid for AlalODulal.org
“This was the only glimpse that I had to the frenzy that Partition and famine caused in the lives of my closed ones; in Nanu’s paranoia, I saw the fear of starvation, the fear of losing family members, and the fear of the unknown.”
Birangonas: Our dearest sisters
by Shahanaz Jahan Pushon, translated for AlalODulal.org by Tibra Ali
“Husbands? Where will we find husbands. Some of our husbands died during the war, others have left us.”
“Jahanara Imam Is Her Name”
by Humayun Ahmed, translated for AlalODulal.org by Nusrat Chowdhury
It was around 9 pm. I was writing. Suddenly my younger daughter came running, “Baba, a very famous person has telephoned you!” Continue reading “Humayun Ahmed: “Jahanara Imam Is Her Name””
My father would have been 87
by Tanvir Haider Chaudhury
It was my father’s birthday yesterday. Professor Mufazzal Haider Chaudhury would have been 87. He never got to approach that age because he was tortured and murdered at 45, the same age as I am now, by the Al-Badr militia. In 1971. Continue reading “My father would have been 87”
Study of History: The Popular-Academic Divide
by Shafiq for AlaloDulal.org
This article is a continuation of a discussion initiated in an AoD post by Naeem Mohaiemen on March 4th 2013, “History is hard work, but are we willing?” Continue reading “Study of History: The Popular-Academic Divide”
If you live within the territorial limits of the Union of India, it is very likely that you were unaware of two important red-letter days in late March. You are not alone. Bhagat Singh was executed on 23 March, 1931 and Shurjo Sen was born on 22 March, 1894. Continue reading “Politics of remembering and forgetting heroes”
In November 2012, The New York Times ran two paired pieces written from both sides of the Bengal border.
Jyoti Rahman analyzes both articles: “Naeem is a few years older than me, and Mr Ray is likely to be slightly younger. That means, all of us were born decades after partition. Ours is the generation that has not known Pakistan in Bengal. Ours is the generation that has no lived experience of 1971. Both writers describe what the ‘other’ Bengal has meant to them over the years. Obviously I can relate to Naeem’s story, but I don’t share his conclusion. And while I find Ray’s story interesting for its misconception, I do relate to the way his story ends.”
Continue reading “On the borders of two Bengals”
Ask for a piece on Pakistan and Bangladesh during December and you’re likely to get something about the 1971 wars — note the plural, because the eastern part of the subcontinent simultaneously experienced an inter-ethnic civil war and ethno-communal cleansing, genocide, inter-state conventional war and a war of national liberation, all climaxing in the crisp Bengali winter of 1971. Naeem Mohaiemen’s seven part series is an example, covering many aspects of that fateful year. Let me skip 1971 in this post. Instead, I’ll begin by marking the other December anniversary, one that will have a particular relevance for Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2013. And I’ll note the parallels between the post-1971 developments in the two wings of former United Pakistan.
I was lucky to have had a preview of Naeem’s essay on history before it came out. This past week, I read the comments from AoD readers and they provided much food for thought. Great writing in response to the same.
A few thoughts on the comments over the fold.
When a demand is de-contextualised from the power forces at play, it risks this occupation by those forces. Now the ultimate effect of Shahbagh has been dividing the nation even more dangerously, rather than uniting us or showing us a path forward — for at the end of the day they did not risk enough to go against the state as well as Shibir, and thus, fell into an old identity dichotomy rather than creating a new synthesis for a new identity.
Continue reading “Seema Amin: Shahbagh slides into old identity dichotomy”
The crocodile-tear sentiment of the middle-class and liquid, emotion-filled nationalism smothered the radical face of the 1952 language movement in one way or another. That is why we need to return to history and raise this noise very loudly: just as the language movement at one time was a movement to establish our language rights, it was also ultimately a movement to fight for the rights of the country’s farmers, workers and the toiling masses.
History is hard work, but are we willing?
by NAEEM MOHAIEMEN.
[Forum Magazine, March 2013]
“The stain of genocide that still haunts Bangladesh can’t be erased with stains of revenge and show trials. Or by our refusal to acknowledge the ‘others’ amongst us, be it the adibashis or voices of dissent. We cannot challenge intolerance with intolerance, parochialism with more parochialism. We can and should do better.”
Continue reading “Questions about Shahbagh”
The first time I visited Shahbag, I was disturbed by a few slogans, such as, “Tumi key, ami key – Bangali, Bangali” (“Who are you, who am I – Bangali, Bangali”). I love the first part of the slogan “Tomar amar thikana, Padma Meghna Jamuna” (Your address and my address, Padma, Meghna, Jamuna – referring to the largest rivers of Bangladesh), but not being a Bengali, I am unable to chant the second half of the slogan. As an advocate of the rights of the indigenous (Adivasi) peoples of Bangladesh it is impossible not to be bothered by this slogan. Continue reading “An Adivasi speaks: What brings me to Shahbag, what pulls me back from it”
While describing Shahbag Square movement, frequent references are being made to Tahrir Square, the site of recent anti -autocratic movement in Egypt. However, although there are more similarities, Shahbag has not yet been discussed in reference to the famous Tiananmen Square movement of 1989 in China. The reason of missing Tiananmen reference may be two pronged. One, in ultra-short memory span of the minds of the analysts of Shahbag Square movement, an event of 1989 is not much distinct now. Continue reading “From Tiananmen to Shahbag, via Tahrir”
Shahbag & Bengali Nationalism
by Paul James Gomes
I understand the movement has its own energy. Hundeds of thousands of people together has it’s own heartbeat. If we stand there we must feel we can do so much, we can change the world. Our eyes will water, if 50,000 people shout together “no”, a wave will run through our bodies. But why? What do we want, why are we here. Continue reading “Shahbag & Bengali Nationalism”
I had not been following the war crimes trial in much detail. Like many, I was surprised by the sentencing of the Abdul Quader Mollah. He was convicted, but not given the maximum penalty (death sentence) — what gives, I wondered.
It might be hard to remember now, but Shahbagh awakening began as a protest against Awami League. Think back to the distant days at the beginning of February. After four years of de facto ban, Jamaat was all of a sudden allowed to hold ‘peaceful protests’. Oh, they were peaceful alright. Continue reading “Shahbagh — the End”
Who are you, who am I?/ Chakma, Marma, Bangali.
Who are you, who am I?/ Garo, Saontal, Bangali.
In Surya Sen’s Bengal/ no space for racism
In Pritilata’s Bengal/ no space for ethnic hate
In Titumir’s Bengal/ no space for fascism
In Rokeya’s Bengal/ no space for patriarchy
In Lalan Fakir’s Bengal/ no space for fascism
In Freedom Fighter’s Bengal/ no space for Rajakars
In Freedom Fighter’s Bengal/ no space for Looters
Continue reading “Shahbagh: Who are you? Who Am I?”
Those still sitting on the fence are not really relevant at this moment unless the rightfully committed have plenty of time to waste, which they ought not in light of Rajib’s tragic martyrdom and the real threat of Jamaati terror on the ground. Those who again find themselves on the wrong side of history are facing popular resistance and inevitable defeat at the hands of increasingly proactive “ordinary” Bangladeshis. Continue reading “Shahbagh After Week Two”
Another blogger, who has spent the greater part of the week at Shahbagh, who is gratified at the ‘abject rejection of the BNP-Jamaat and JP [Jatiya Party] narrative of 1971’ stirringly writes, and I quote:
‘I will never agree on the death penalty for anyone…If it is handed down for a convicted war criminal, I’ll continue to work so that it is commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or Presidential clemency. Confiscate their property and compensate their victims, and let their children find their way out of the public humiliation and shame brought upon by the exposure of truth. Let us be better than them. I will continue to be there in Shahbagh even if I’m the last man standing, and I share this belief with millions of my brothers and sisters across our land’. (greaterboka, ‘A Week in Shahbagh’, Alal o Dulal, February 14, 2013). Continue reading “Reclaiming Ekattur: fashi, Bangali”
Lubna Marium participated in the 1971 liberation war by working in the Refugee Camps and later an Advance Dressing Center of Sector 7, with her mother Sultana Zaman and sister Naila Khan. Her father, Quazi Nooruzzaman, was Sector Commander of Sector 7, where her younger brother Nadeem was a muktijoddha. Continue reading “Lubna Marium on Shahbag”
How does the movement connect to the garment worker imprisoned in some factory not so far way? What’s its relation to the “informal sector worker” eking a living by shifting through garbage? What hope does the movement give to the farmer on the brink of losing his land and livelihood in some village? What message does the movement send to the Adibashi fighting for autonomy and dignity in Hill Tracts of Chittagong?
Continue reading “This is Shahbagh!”
I have a different take from Naeem as to what’s going on in Shahbagh. It is a more pessimistic take. If you are one of those people who think that a 18 year old speaking against Zafar Iqbal (Sir) should be treated like a Rajakar, please stop reading now and go elsewhere. Continue reading “The Meaning of Shahbagh-er More”
কয় একদিন আগে একটা প্রফেশনাল লিডারশীপ ট্রেনিং এর সময় ট্রেনার জেনারেশন এক্স এর বিবিধ বৈশিষ্ট্য নিয়ে অনেক কথা বললেন। আমাদের জেনারেশন টা নাকি জেনারেশন এক্স। Continue reading “Epic Kechal 4: British to Doraemon Generation”
This is the month of my birthday. Parades, marches, speeches, celebrations, congratulations are in order. A particularly nice time of the year in my household, too, when temperature drops to a level that allows balmy joviality to set in. All get a well-deserved reprieve, albeit temporary, from incessant load-shedding. Along with the winter harvest, festoons, banners, flags and photographs of my golden children decorate cities and villages alike. Patriotic songs echo aloud out of loudspeakers and people lift their chests just a bit more. Indeed, it is a great pleasure to see my children happy, enthusiastic and proud. Only a mother knows how good it feels to see her children well and having fun.
When a nation loses its intellectuals, it loses its backbone.
Continue reading “When a nation loses its intellectuals, it loses its backbone.”
UDAYAN CHATTOPADHYAY ponders over what’s ‘missing’ from December 16th celebrations on both sides of the border.
DAILY STAR, December 2012
Every year, 16th December, known in India as Vijay Divas, is commemorated through low key events in a few select major cities across the country. There is rarely any fanfare; in Delhi, there is a brief and solemn ceremony with sparse attendance; protocol dictates the titles of those who must attend or send a replacement in lieu; a minute’s silence is held by the Eternal Flame by India Gate, and the event is generally very lacklustre. Continue reading “1971: Missed Euphoria”
This is a short essay written by Monaemuddin Ahmed (1914-2003) for Salimullah Hall’s reunion magazine. At 89, he was at the time, the oldest alum alive. He passed away before he could see this in print.
– Monaemuddin Ahmed
Salimullah Hall in our days was known as Salimullah Muslim Hall. The word “Muslim” was dropped in 1972.
I was a resident of the Salimullah Hall from July,1935 to September, 1939 by virtue of my becoming a student of the Dhaka University ( then written as “Dacca University”) in 1st year B.A. (Hons.) class in the department of Mathematics with English and Persian as subsidiary subjects. Those years were the best years of my life, the creative years and the jolliest years. In 1935-36, I occupied a seat room # 151, in 1936-38, of room # 163 and in the final year, i.e. 1938-39, of room # 94, all in the West House.
(aka when surjo shen became surya sen) Looking forward to Bedabrata Pain’s film, but one khotka… according to the film’s trailer, the legendary anti-British rebellion of Chittagong is staged in Hindi, not Bangla… Continue reading Chittagong, in Hindi? (when Surjo Shen became Surya Sen)
I guess Humayn Ahmed’s upcoming novel “deyal” is going to win the distinction of second most talked about ‘book-in-writing’. ( I give it second place because for hype about a ‘not-yet-written’ novel, the top place all time in the history Bangla literature will unsurpassably remain with Tahmima Anam and her novel ‘A Golden Age’, ever). Dozen of articles and op-eds have already been published in several Bangladeshi outlets ( but nothing compared to New York Times, Guadian, NPR reviews and dozens of TV interviews of Tahmima Anam gave including BBC radio even before her first ever novel was published). Even this obscure blogger tried to write an amateurish piece in BDNews 24.com opinion page. The full piece is reproduced for AlalODulal readers across the fold.
But on the side of the fold let’s share with you one reader’s comment about the piece. The reader commented,
Humayun Ahmed has received so much help, financial assistance, and favors from the current government that he probably feels obligated to pay off some his debt, which is fine except he shouldn’t try to call his novel a piece of literature. He should, if he is honest, put the testimonial at the beginning of his novel that it is his way of paying off his debt to this government.
As the reader rightfully questions the literature value of this upcoming novel and our court and the government remains very concerned about the historical value, this blogger sees the novel as the litmus test for intellectual honesty of author-film maker Humayun Ahmed.
Complete piece is over the fold.