When freedom remains in bondage


It’s been 44 years now that Bangladesh has beco­me an independent nati­on, but it still feels like yesterday. Freedom from Pakistan was won after a long war of nine months and Banglad­esh was born with the promise of being a peaceful, tolerant, democratic and secular nati­on. Though if you talk to Indians, most will say that the 1971 war was fought between India and Pakistan and Bangladesh’s gu­errilla forces had no part in it. It was as a result of India’s victory that Banglad­esh was born, they aver.

However, the fact is that independence was achieved by the sacrifices and bloodshed of Bangladeshi freedom-fighters. The second partition was the result of the uprising of Bengali muslims of East Pakistan aga­inst the constant att­acks on them by non-Bengali muslims. The idea of all muslims living happily ever after in one country after separating from India, obviously wasn’t working out.

The nationalists who fou­ght for Bangladesh envisioned a country that would differ fr­om Pakistan in its goals and principles. A nation where ev­eryone, irrespective of religi­ous inclination, would coexist in mutual harmony. However, within a few years of indepe­ndence, the country’s ugly si­de emerged. Though Bangla­desh is not divided geographically, there is a major division on the basis of principles: at one end there are dogmatic religious fascists and on the other is the liberal secular minority. Religious extremists attack unarmed liberals with impunity, and rising frequency, while the judicial system remains in disarray. So, far from being different from Pakistan, today’s Bangladesh is actually no different from it.

The powers that be in Ba­ngladesh have long fed the masses with catchy words like freedom, democracy and secularism, however, the country is not mature enough to understand and implement these id­eals. The day Bangladesh comprehends the value of these words and start to practise them, that would be the day when the national flag fluttering over the memorial of the martyrs in Dhaka would derive its true honour.

I don’t celebrate the indep­endence day of Bangladesh because I am hardly able to see any difference between Ban­gladesh and Pakistan. Fre­ethinking is prohibited in both countries, so how does that make us free? I strongly feel that Bangladesh does not ha­ve the right to celebrate independence day till freethinkers stop getting killed and exiled ones are brought back home. The celebration on February 21 will, therefore, be nothing but a superficial pomp and show as long as Bang­ladesh does not fix its issues of injustice against the liberals.

I don’t have faith in religion, but in human beings. I place my faith in good work, constructive ideas, dedicati­on, eq­uality and freedom of speech. Do I not have the right to live in Bangladesh? It’s been 21 years now that I have been banished from my motherland. It wasn’t my choice; the government forced me out and the doors of return are closed till date. Why did I have to face this fate? Did I kill or loot anyone? I was a doctor and a writer. All I have done is to write for the people so that the light of knowledge could reach the common masses and they could live a better life.

In 21 years of exile, the definition of a country has changed for me. It’s not a territorial entity anymore, it’s all about people; who are liberal, love each ot­her, believe in freedom of self expression and are not shackled by the inhibitions of religion and superstitions. That is wh­ere my motherland is, that is where I belong.

Politicians make the bou­ndaries of the world. If non-political entities had the po­wer, the world would have be­en a different place altogether. The map wouldn’t have been altered on grounds of partitioning in the name of religion and faith. The world is becoming smaller and people are learning foreign languages as well as adopting food habits, lifestyles and cultures of far aw­ay countries. Dividing people on the basis of language and so­cio-cultural structure does not make sense any more. It’s time that divisions mad­e by politicians for their own benefit be removed. Let there no longer be barbed wires or walls segregating people.

Animalistic tendencies are inherent in humans; we try to rein them in to be social. If we could get rid of these instincts totally, the world would be one; without divisions, borders or countries. The geographical distance between America and Eurasia would always be present but the cultural distance has diminished. The economical gap between the rich and the poor too will get bridged in time. Even if there are socio-political differences, that is no justification to sow seeds of hatred, intolerance, religious dogma, superstition and terrorism. These horrible aspects shouldn’t be a part of the culture of any nation. This is the era of science and technology, let us utilise this for something co­nstructive, and let’s unite with the purpose of being one country, one nation and one world.

In the war of 1971, muslims fought against muslims. It wasn’t a battle between two sects of muslims; sunni muslims took up weapons against another group of sunni muslims. This conflict was one of a kind. A group of bravehearts stood up against their own sect in order to save their mother tongue. This is a great instance of secularism. This is the kind of secular politics that I have tried to propagate through my writings. And this is what other freethinkers of Bangladesh have done as well, yet all those who believe in the idea of a secular country are being exiled, one after another.

I don’t refer to Bangladesh as a country anymore. For me, a country is a sense of shelter, an envelope of protection. A piece of land where people don’t feel protected, where writers and intellectuals don’t have the liberty of self-expression is anything but a country. It is easy to be an independent national in the logbook of the world; but being a country is­n’t easy. It requires a sense of responsibility. Just like having the appearance of a human being is inherent, but being human is not.

Comments

  1. Sheikh Ali says

    We the Muslims of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were victims of Islamic aggression and are the descendants of Hindu and Buddhist women who were raped and enslaved by Arabs and Turks and forced to become Muslims. Many educated Muslims want to reject Islam but are afraid that once their intention becomes public other Muslims will butcher them. Hence what the Muslims need is a way by which they can renounce Islam without attracting the attention of their fellow religionists and live a civilized and spiritually content life. I am living in a Muslim dominated locality and have adapted the Sanatana way of life without arousing suspicion among other Muslims. This can be done by following Sanatana Dharma as interpreted by Swami Vivekananda. I appeal you to share this link http://sanatanaparishad.blogspot.in (in social networking sites like Facebook and twitter) with our Muslim brother and sisters and save them from their self-destructive ideology.

    • ChhatraPati Shivaji's Sainik says

      Sheikh Ali Ji – Swagatam – Welcome to Sanatan Dharma which is known as Hinduism by others!! Sanatan Dharma is a true ecological, environmental, scientific and allowing freedom based on bondage of Humanity. You can come out of Muslim locality. Change your name to Sanatan Dharmic name officially in the Govt. records as well. This will help your spouse and children also would be in the Same Sanatan Dharma. Lest, it becomes confusing for them as to where they belong and then the ‘force/threat’ factors come in picture and spoil their lives as well.

  2. says

    It’s no surprise Bangladesh is similar to Pakistan they both follow Islam and that is the problem, trying to live a life like Mohamed makes little sense today nor treat to women in the manner he may have 1400 years ago. You must not confuse Hindu with religions of the book, Hindu has no book, gave rise to Math and concepts like Zero, Shiv Shakti, which became male n female your favorite bug bear . Hindus and science get along unlike Bible and Koran am glad you are in India and should be able to speak your mind this is very much the Hindu way.

  3. যুগল কিশোর ঝা says

    জন্ম ভুমির জন্য তোমার লড়াই , বাকস্বাধীনতা লড়াই আমার সমর্থন আছে /

  4. Reemani Verma says

    I strongly agree with what Taslima Nasrin has written. Bangladesh does not understand democracy and secularism in real sense of the terms if it banishes writers like Taslima Nasrin for the only reason that she has brought out the reality of the situation of that time in her novel. She has been punished for no fault of her.Her novel was genuine and based on reality. I have read Lajja and I don’t think it has anything to do with the Quran or religious sentiments of any sect. The only fact is that she was not partial in portraying the factual events. I must say it is again orthodoxy and limited sense of individual freedom that has forced the government of Bangladesh to issue fatwa against her.

  5. says

    I am not sure the place you’re getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend a while studying more or working out more. Thank you for great information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.

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