As pleasing sleep sooths your eyes my fellow country people in Dhaka, for me these are stretched nights! Last week the chilling cold wave from the Himalayas swiped over the northern parts of Bangladesh. Death tole nearing hundred now. Even the polluted gas chamber – that we call Dhaka- experienced a fall of temperature from previous weeks 21 degree down to 10 degree centigrade at night. Further south the open expanse of the shallow water of the Bay of Bengal and its long beach offers their care to honor the fun-loving tourists. Plunged in to the woes of missing the dropping dews that keep making the sweetest ever music, creating phantom vision of a starry winter night in a century old agrarian village, in this chill I feel those souls who died this week, last week and the weeks before. For us such winter is of fallen leaves and lost lives. But what bothers me is death not natural also became as natural as darted leaves. Bound by my own conscience, I would like to ask you and our parliamentarians,’ do you remember Mousumi, Asad Noor and Mithun Chakma?These three sons and daughters of yours commanded the headlines of your mass and social media in the last ten days. Do you realize that these three names haunt us to see things in Bangladesh in their true proportions?
Mousumi was your girl-a maiden whose innocence and vulnerability- was as real as the active forces of the oppressive Muslim family law of this country. Mousumi was made a woman at a very early age by early marriage. She was whipped hundred and one times and killed by the mediation committee in a village in this country. While you remember Mousumi and girls like her, you should also recollect the memories of our maternal ancestors-more than four hundreds of thousands of them-who faced planned rape, brutal torture and were killed in a genocide 1971-to ensure, you and I can enjoy, freedom. Asad Noor-a video blogger and atheist-was arrested and detained by the Police while he was at the immigration of Dhaka Airport. He reminds me of many like him, murdered, barred, forced to hide. Mithun Chakma was a leader of one of the political parties of Jumma nation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). If you remember what your Government committed to his nation under the peace accord in 1997, you would recall him. He was killed by a group of assailants reportedly unidentified, and his killing is being scandalized as a power struggle among his own people.
Now if a say that these three were the most recent sacrifices of the religious and racist politics of our political parties, and the fascist system gradually built by our Governments over 46 years of our independence, I am afraid, the legends of your khalifate will explode. Mousumi could not pay her husband enough dowry and was charged of adultery. Asad Noor-one of our growing youths, to whom the future freedom and progress of the country and its people owes, was sued under Article 57 of ICT Act, on charges of harming religious sentiments of members of an Islamic party-a party whose members indulge in dreaming to convert a country with diversity into an monotheist one, by eliminating democracy, women leadership, and prevailing secular culture. What is more, as if all the political and religious atrocities that have been committed since 2013 in the name of religion in this delta and these recent two were not enough to destroy the lofty tower of the moderate democracy and to contend the brewing Islamic Khalifate, in 2018 one more killing became necessary. This time it was Mithun Chakma, a talented political leader of Jumma Nation.
Shall we now dissect if actually these three committed any crime at all? Is-not being able to pay dowry- a crime? Or A Chakma who refuses to be a Bengali, and leaving his career and personal gain engages in regular politics to legally fight for the rights of his Nation-a criminal? Or is - being a video blogger armed with words and phrases made in Bangladesh, a US made keyboard plus Laptop and a mobile phone-of Chinese Brand-and as was the case of Asad-practicing ones rights to tell a wrong, a ‘wrong’-a crime?
To some, these were either crimes, or for sure sins, that have they committed- at least these made opportunity enough, for Asad to be arbitrarily arrested, and for Mousumi and Mithun, to be wiped out. Actually what does your civilized Law say? Can anyone eliminate them thus from life? Can the governments do that? Can a powerful person sitting on the money of the Bangladesh Bank, do that, and roam freely? If your answer is ‘yes’ then let us pray and thank Allah for he made your administration capable of erasing sinners; witches-bitches, non-believers or the Kafeers - one after another from the face of the earth, clearing the path of the Islamic monarchy. Then we must take it as almost a celestial work of art designed by secret fate, what vain as we are, to toil to see and realize.
However, before you employ your mind to visualize a thousands of scandals in their flight to all directions in relation to these incidents, you should enquire what on the 8th of July 2010 the High court of Bangladesh declared against religious Fatwas. It stated that any punishment by Fatwas illegal. It maintained that such actions would be considered - punishable crimes. You may also remember the constitution of Bangladesh states Mithun Chakma’s right to engage in politics, form a party to secure rights of his community.
In fact, I can imagine at some point of life, barriers within individual fall away; the wind, star, light, hopes and passions come in one’s self-as sense of freedom. Therefore, being the most experienced among the politicians of our country, you would agree to yourself, sitting in isolation, and resolve-that criticism of religion or a belief is, by no means a crime; that arrest of Asad Noor, refusing him to go out to safety, when he has threat over his head from the religious extremists, was wrong.
I hope these questions would not prompt you parliamentarians to term them- ‘Rubbish’ and ‘nonsense’, as some of you often do. Mere reactions as such would not help you escape completely, from reality. Ethically I think, despite being a newly appointed bearer of the Islamic Khalifate and nurturer of the diehard Islamists, the present administration can choose to be a complete human thing and have a look at the whipped dead body of Mousumi, the bullet holes in Mithun’s body and the despair and desperation on Asad’s face. They are so annoyingly young, light lifting, with strong command over life itself! We can’t just forget they are our children. It is unbelievable that our parliament can sit with ease after what happened to them, though with utter astonishment we see you labor to pretend these did not happen, and quiet flows there-the Meghna.
I believe there won’t be an earthquake that may crush the throne of Allah-the almighty, as a result of the heinous acts that perished a girl, a pacifist Chakma challenger of the monarch, or that caged an ex Muslim who divorced Islam because marriage between his brain and the belief could not settle peacefully. Given that your Allah is, as I guess, ‘the nature’ itself, then be sure, nature does not have any emotion to cry for a deceased girl/ boy or a barred individual. Allah can maintain His indifference to any disaster in the universe. But what about human being like You- the public representatives? What about our Prime Minister or people like us and the staff of the administration? What about our conscience?
A group of men, with their religious, political -social power, beaten to death a helpless innocent girl. A group of assailants, reportedly, supporter of the sitting administration, hunted down an emerging talented leader of a minority community. Putting away all the personal enclosing walls in you just look deep inside, haven’t this news caused a part of the light in you miss a flicker? I tell you what I’ve felt. I couldn’t breathe. I still can’t sleep since then-paining, thinking, ‘I am going to lose whatever is left of my secular country-the land that’s been a beacon fire lighting my path in the darkness’.
Now when the four-year-old son of Mithun Chakma, who waited for his father to come and hug him on his birthday, and had to receive his dead body, offered flower to his coffin with unuttered questions in his eyes, that air you heard in the hills of Khagrachari is no breeze to romanticize ‘peace in the hills’. Hills, forests have ears, eyes and hearts. People who lined to bid Mithun good bye rallied with his coffin on top of every hill in CHT. The dead body of Mousumi was silently followed by every heart in the heartlands of Bangladesh. With Asad trapped inside the bar by your Police and the extremist friends, many a mind still grasping for air to breath to be able to figure out what is wrong in this system.
There is certainly some wrong being done in this country. The Hills and the plains, the forests and the waters of the delta are warming up. Someone is measuring with caution, what this nation dares. As from the green hill tops or the fields in the plains, the Jummas, the farmers, and the factory workers toil from dawn till dusk to feed the nation-in the form of Fatwas, Jalsas, Hijabs, threats against free thoughts, progressive actions and union of people, like the moistened misty hundreds serpents of anti-minority, anti-women campaign of Islamists roll from coast to coast, borders to borders, darkens light of our secular pride like heaps after heaps of clustering bees.
We harbored helpless Rohinga Muslims and earned international publicity, by putting our poorest peoples’ basic survival in to risk, and we let murderers slaughter our brilliant minds, because they doubt the existence of God. This is no ordinary time we are passing. These are no small things that we can overlook. We can’t hide this Bangladesh is failing her sons and daughters, her minorities, her secular peace lovers. We can’t shut our eyes from this truth, that these mark a time of shameless lack of sincerity, non-reason, greed, hunger for power, lust for everything that people of this nation owns.
Many great peace lovers, stated that the energy of the universe is being created and recreated from a single source. Mystiques and great minds who believed God, believed so. Logic and Mathematics supported that we are made from the elements created in the process of formation of stars and planets. Life forces can be compared with a flow of energy, and each of us add a tiny drop into it. If one among them is harmed before it really could join us to complete, say one trillionth of a pulse in the flow, don’t you think the ocean would miss that tiniest drop? Have you missed anything inside, reading how they witch hunted Mousumi in the name of shalish? Have you felt that a part of you was cut off by the inhuman act of a group of public representatives, entrusted to ensure protection of people? Don’t you think those killed Mithun, snatched away a pride of this nation-that it has a peace accord with the lives in the hills. Must not the murderers face a trial and be punished for what they have done?
Patriarchy, suspicion and terror of shariah rules are responsible for originating the gender based domestic and social crimes, i.e. violence, hatred, bloodshed, mental and physical abuses driven against girls and women. It added elements in the already tensed politics in the Hill Tracts. Nonbelievers like Araj Ali Matubbar lived in this country, and criticized existing knowledge of God since the dusts of the Himalayas borne by the rivers made this land and people settled down here. Now this history has to be ignored, because you have a tie with the Islamic parties? Because you want it in your way. And you will put your younger generation to stand either behind you or in opposition. Don’t you think we must now rally as much truly, as we did during our liberation war, to make sure that rights to justice is a driving force of our democracy, and upheld should it be at any cost? And we should actually let people’s hope and labor survive, by making spaces for common citizens like mousumi, Mithun and Asad to survive with dignity and freedom?
If you do not address this now, all that we hold with hope will be swallowed up in ruin. What happened in these three lives, shows only a fraction of a huge problem. Let’s remember a few more-a woman forced to be naked and beaten by Police, daily rapes and killing of minor girls & boys and women, arbitrary arrest or abduction (by unknown groups) of people who does not share your government’s opinion, or shares views that you do not approve, pin drop silence of the intelligentsia supporting your party. I can keep citing instances on and on, but I would like to stop now.
I hope you would use your power to compel that rays of sanity prevails and prevent attempts of perverting the course of justice and rule of law. I hope you would actually feel we do not need a law like article 57, at all and would free Asad Noor and others – who have been bared under it. I hope you would stand, no matter what happens, for all Mousumis. I expect while the crackling flames of Mithun Chakmas cremated body fly high through the forest of Khagrachari, the drum beaten at intervals speaks to the nation from CHT, and at chilly dawn Chakma children searches the footprints of Mithun’s reincarnated soul in the cremation ground, you would go for a prompt, impartial independent investigation of the extra judicial killing of a brilliant son of our soil.