Speech at the Jahanara Imam Memorial Lecture on receiving the Medal
Published on May 03, 2009
Honourable Mr. President,
In the beginning of my statement I remember Shahid Janani with immense gratitude. The movement she started years ago did not reach its successful end. It was not her failure; it is ours that we could not continue the movement with momentum. My sorrow that lies in the fact that the great rajakar Golum Azam smile with open teeth even today, he enjoys participating in the invitation offered in the embassies.
Dr. MA Hasan delivered toady the memorial lecture. In here he discussed in detail the complicated process involved in trials associated with genocide. On the one hand he drew our attention as well as that of government of the problems, he also discussed the ways to overcome those problems fairly in details. You have heard him, so it is no point of repeating. But the point Dr. Hasan stressed is the importance of collecting evidence of genocide, if we want to hold trial at the national or international level. Unfortunately, no government took the matter with due importance. As a result many important documents or evidence were lost, many died in the meanwhile who could have been important witnesses. Whatever evidence has been collected it has been done by the private organizations or individuals. Many of you probably do not know that Dr. Hasan has been devoting himself in this work for the last few years silently. I believe that once a trial is initiated against these war criminals these documents of his would be of immense value. Please come on and give him a loud applause through clapping.
For making significant contribution in the movement for establishing humanism in recognition of which it has been decided to award Jahanara Imam Memorial Medal 2007, and I am invited to receive the award on behalf the Muktomona. It is a great honour in deed for the members of the Muktomona and for me too. I am greatly elevated. On behalf of myself and the Muktomona we thank you respected president, and express our gratitude. We do not know if we are worthy of receiving such an honour which is associated with a great lady of our time, but this recognition inspire us immensely. With due solemnity and humbleness I on behalf of thousands of members and well-wishers of Muktomona am receiving the great honour. Mr. President thank you very much.
Let me take this opportunity to introduce little activities of Muktomona to those who perhaps do not know much about us.
Activities of Muktomona
Established on May 25, 2001
The Founding Members: 30 members, mainly of expatriate Bengalis of Bangladesh
Founding Moderator: Avijit Roy
Present status: An international platform with members from India, Pakistan, Nepal, England, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, USA, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka .. covering the entire world, truly an international internet based organization.
Present Moderators: Mehul Kamdar, Jahed Ahmed, Tanvira Talikdar, Farid Ahmed.
The Editorial Board and the Advisory Council: Avijit Roy, Jahed Ahmed, Mehul Kamder, Farid Ahmed, Bonna Ahmed, Fatemolla, Dr. Jafar Ullah, Abul Kashem, Aparthiba, Mahbub Sayeed, Ajoy Roy .. ..
Our Fight: Against narrowness, superstitions, blind faith, fundamentalism bound with holy scripture and communalism; for secularism, civil liberty, liberal democracy, ..
We are the inheritor of the renaissance of Bengal of early twentieth century, followers of thoughts and philosophy of Dirojio, holder of tradition of Shikha Gosthi – ‘Where knowledge is restricted, where intellect is bound, there could not be freedom’, We are the soldiers of ideals of Aroj Ali Matubbar, We are committed to follow the paths of Begum Rokeya, Lila Roy, Phularanu Guha, Sufia Kamal, Jahanara Imam, …
We not only put forward arguments against fundamentalism, we fight for establishing humanity: (just a few examples)
- In order to save humanity against blasphemy we started worldwide movement to save the life of prisoner of the free thinker Dr. Yunus Sheikh. Our active co fighters were: IHEU, Rationalist International, Amnesty International, Dhaka Rationalist and Secularist Union and the ‘Save Dr. Yunus Shaikh Committee’ organized by Dhaka based members of Muktomona under the leadership Professor Ajoy Roy, who day after day make movements at the street, held meetings, procession, seminars, road side demonstration and staged demonstration against Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharaff in front of the Pakistan High commission. Many progressive people and intellectuals including Professor Kabir Choudhury and Justice Sobhan took leading part in the movement. The success cane. Dr. Sheikh was released from Pakistani jail. He is now in UK and since then he is an active member of MM.
- We build up movement in favour of Shariar Kabir for his release when he was arrested by the Begum Khaleda-Nizami led BD government at the Dhaka airport on the false charge of treason against the country. Herein also we met with success as a result of combined movement of national and international organizations and civil society.
- We once again joined hands in making a wide spread movement in securing release of Shariar Kabir (2nd time), Muntasir Mamun and host of others including some journalists and human rights volunteers who were persecuted by Bangladesh on false charges of terrorism, treason and what not. Once again we met with success.
- We almost single handedly organized a network based agitation in favour of ‘Proshika’ in securing the release of its workers and employees including the Proshika chief. In this movement we got the support of AI and similar other organizations.
- We always raise our voice very loudly against communal persecution, the worst expression of communal fundamentalism.
- In a similar way when the communal forces in 2001 let loose by the Khaleda-Nizami by its persecution on minorities of Bangladesh such as killings, lootings, setting of fire on houses and professional establishments, destruction and violation of sanctity of places of worships set historical example- we stood against the evil forces in collaboration with country’s secular forces. Our founder adviser Professor Ajoy Roy with local Muktomonas and intellectuals did build up a strong movement against the evil forces of communalism and fundamentalism under the banner ‘Committee for Preservation of Citizens’ Rights and Resistance to Communalism’. The Committee formed a ‘Public Inquiry Commission’ with Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiq as its chairman, which published its report in December 2002 that was immediately publicized through out the world through our website ‘www.mukto-mona.com/human-rights/. A group of leading expatriate intellectuals sent letters of protest to the then Prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia and President Dr. Badruddoza Choudhury urging them to stop this inhuman act of barbarism against the minorities. They expressed their indignation against the communalists being nurtured by the government. Muktomona made a signature campaign internationally protesting the inaction on the part of the government and the protest letter was sent to the PM and the President.
- We do note make simply theoretical movement. We stand by the side of oppressed humanity materially and physically too, wherever the persecution takes place. We came forward on the side of persecuted minority families of villages Annada Prasad and Fatemabad in Bhola and took part in the programme of rehabilitation, initiated by our sister organization ‘Drishtipat’. Under the programme we took up construction of low cost houses for 100 displaced families, leasing of agricultural lands to the needy and persecuted families, educational support to the young boys and girls etc.. We came forward to stand on the side of Purnima, Rita, Madhuri, Rajkumar babu, Narahari Kabiraj, John, Sitansu Murmu, Fatema, Minati, ... how many names I would name, .. all of them were the victims of the beastly oppression committed by the beasts in human form.
- We stood by the side of the family of journalist Manik Shaha when the dedicated journalist fell victim to the terrorist force. We extended our hand of co-operation to sustain the education of his two daughters. We stood on the side of journalist Bibhuranjan Sarkar
- We came forward to the side of humanist Shariar Kabir, Kazi Mukul and their colleagues when they met a serious road accident with our very little resource. We stood by the side of the family of Dr. Humayun Azad at the time of the crisis. We helped to create a Humayun Aazd Foundation initiated by his family.
- On the bed of mighty river Brahamputra in a char island we reconstructed a flood demolished lower secondary school. We took up the responsibility of running the school with our small resources. We have undertaken to construct a small construction in memory of the local martyrs in our liberation war. In this connection we held a public meeting of the local freedom fighters and in their presence a building slab was placed.
- We appealed to Bangladesh caretaker government for prosecuting the killers of Cholesh Richil and also made donation to help his family members.
- We condemned or made petitions against oppressions and persecutions against minority Hindu, Quadiyani and other ethnic communities in Bangladesh; targeted killings of minority Muslims in Gujarat, India, oppressions of Palestinians and others. We made statements against the infamous River Interlinking Project in India, protested against Kansat killings, showed concern against the vandalism on renowned artist M F Hussain’s Paintings, condemned Jamaat-Shibir's death threats to Zafar Iqbal and Hasan Azizul Huq, appealed to save the honor of Valerie Taylor, the founder of CRP or condemned angry attacks and fatwas on Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin.
I am not telling these to make our own publicity, but to introduce you with the nature of our activities. Even though if it looks like self-publicity, I seek your excuse with all humility. For establishing the values of humanity and to oppose fundamentalism everywhere in the world standing on your side Muktomona will continue its fight.
There is some minor error in the citation. Muktomona came into existence in 2001, not in 2000. My contribution has been unnecessarily highlighted for which I feel very embarrassed. Let me speak out very clearly that main driving fore of Muktomona is a dedicated bunch of freedom loving young people who believes in the movement of liberating intellectualism, in cultivation of free intellectual pursuit, in Science based conscience and in rationalism.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen thank you once again.
Read the speech in Bangla:
Prof. Ajoy K. Roy--a reputed scientist and human rights activist from Bangladesh--is the member of Mukto-Mona advisory board. He writes from Dhaka.