Thoughts on a Bloody Victory

Poster: Muktir Gaan

I don’t quite like the idea of Nationalism. It makes us take excessive pride in things we ourselves haven’t done. It makes us think we are right and the other side of the border is wrong. I wish we had no border. Still, my birthplace would have a name. I would grow up within its soil, air, thunder and rain…I would like to speak my mother’s language. I need this liberty, even if there was no border.

I don’t quite like the idea of Nationalism, unless I think about 1971.

I want to offer my earnest respect and gratitude to all the brave souls who liberated Bangladesh. It was not only guerrilla soldiers or military, it was everyone who truly desired freedom from oppression. Our enemy killed many. Many were raped. A lot of children were killed as if they were soldiers. India airstrikes were pivotal, they uprooted Pakistan military in Bangladesh. It is observed that the combined force of allied military simplifies the outcome of warfare. We achieved victory with friends and despite support to Pakistan from the most powerful country in the world. It is observed that Humanity cannot look away sometimes.

Photo: Raghu Rai / Magnum Photo

Very recently, although liberated, we have experienced internecine events inside our own border – most notably the BDR mutiny. There was 1/11 which led people to experience a new political structure escalating from two party reigns. I liked that. It was going well although everyone knew it was temporary. The interpretation here is that we were simply not ready for such a transition given our democratic movement 20 years earlier, which would act as contradiction.

Now: a people’s democratic dictatorship copes with two kinds of contradiction – one against external threat, and one among the people themselves. A nation needs (at least) two wars to establish values natural to it – one war external and one war internal.

In war against external threat there must be two war fronts. The primary war front is the military – armed with weapon and war tactics. The secondary war front is the cultural army, armed with art. True art will bring people on the street to battle. It will make the comfortable uncomfortable.

The internal war is usually the state armed with defense forces against a group of reactionaries who are driven by an ideology. The great challenge is – can we forget the differences among us in our internal war when we are in war against an external threat? Can we have absence of war among us and live as one, set an example to the world? We have made seemingly impossible example once already, in 1971.

BANGLADESH. 1971. Calling themselves Mukti Bahini, young men willing to fight the tryant regime picked up outdated rifles, and a flag of their own.
1971. Calling themselves Mukti Bahini, young men willing to fight the tryant regime picked up outdated rifles, and a flag of their own.

In present Bangladesh there exists a group of people who support views of Pakistan govt regarding war crimes trial despite the inhuman atrocities by war criminals and Pakistan military. They share a toxic ideology based on misconceptions about Islam and religion in general. The active part of this group is small. It must be treated as external enemy and coped with two fronts mentioned – public defense forces and cultural force. I do not celebrate death of war criminals, I feel relieved that justice has been served. Celebrating would stray me away from the socialist construct I want to see.

1101711220_400I want to see that we are teaching our children moral values and Bengal root culture with a playful approach that goes with pureness of their thinking. We cannot claim to be happy if our children are suffering. To achieve economic growth we must remove inequality from society. I want to see us invest more in technology to ensure basic rights for the people. Agriculture and Garments are major sectors we should excel in. Climate Change is the biggest threat to our world. We may be poor and overpopulated but we are not one of the six countries responsible for producing 60% of world’s CO2 emissions, yet we are one of most vulnerable to Climate Change.

We are spread around the world today. We need our brightest minds working for our nation. Life is constant battle between you as a person and finding your position in the society. Each individual must flourish own self and reflect that progress on her/his community. We must always remember that only together we can protect our victory.