True Fighter to the End
Kajalie Shehreen Islam
and horror of the grenade attack of August 21 on an Awami
League rally is still fresh on our minds. Along with this
is the grief at the loss of a dedicated women's rights leader.
The news of central Awami League (AL) leader Ivy Rahman being
critically injured in the grenade attack made national headlines
for days. The pain of her 58-hour struggle with death was
felt by people across the country. Having fought in the liberation
war of 1971 and for the establishment of women's rights over
the decades, Ivy Rahman's reputation was not limited within
her own political party. The mourning of and protests against
her violent death on August 24 were not confined only to the
members of her family and party but shared by the entire nation.
Nahar Ivy, daughter of Principal of Dhaka College, Jalauddin
Ahmed, and Hasina Begum, was born in Bhairab, Kishoreganj
on July 7, 1944. She was the fifth child among eight sisters
and three brothers. Married in 1958 to AL leader Zillur Rahman,
she herself had two daughters and a son.
As a member
of Mukul Fouz and Girl Guides, Ivy Rahman had been involved
in social work. A student of the Bangla Department of the
University of Dhaka, she was an active Chhatra League worker
from her student days. After having taken training in guerrilla
warfare, she played an active role in Bangladesh's war of
independence in 1971. Sources close to her have said that
only a month ago she mentioned her wish of writing a book
about her experiences of the dark days of the war.
Ivy Rahman became the founding Organising Secretary of the
Mohila Awami League. In 1975 she was nominated member of Jatiya
Mohila League. After the death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman that year, she actively protested his brutal killing
-- as she did Ershad's autocratic regime in the late 1980s.
In 1978, she became Women's Affairs Secretary of the Awami
League Central Working Committee (ALCWC). From 1980 to 2002,
she served as President of Mohila Awami League, and between
1996 and 2001, she chaired Bangladesh Mohila Sangstha and
Jatiya Mohila Samabaya Samity. She was also President of Mohila
Samity and General Secretary of Bangladesh Andha Kalyan Samity.
of Bangladesh Mohila Sangstha, Ivy Rahman worked with various
women's and children's rights groups in forming the Bill of
Women and Child Repression Act 2000. She also campaigned for
equal participation of women in parliament, demanding direct
election of women and increasing the number of reserved seats
for women in parliament. In doing so, she even questioned
and criticised her own party when its actions contradicted
the values of women's rights.
her many distinctions, her renowned beauty and her independent
personality, "Ivy Apa" is most often remembered
for never making them obvious. Everyone who knew her agree
on the fact that she would never sit up on stage with other
party leaders but always among her "girls". Even
if she made a speech, she would be back on the field right
after it. She was always one of them and was greatly loved
21, Ivy Rahman saved a seat for herself in the front rows
of the rally on Bangabandhu Avenue, held to protest the recent
bombings and increase in fundamentalism in the country. She
sat close to the truck where Leader of the Opposition and
AL President Sheikh Hasina made her speech, at the end of
which Ivy Rahman offered Hasina her hand to help her down
from the truck. Seconds later, grenades exploded right next
to the vehicle carrying a number of top AL leaders.
legs were shattered in the blast and had to be amputated when
she was taken to the hospital. She also suffered injuries
to the chest and arms. Two days later, her kidneys and liver
stopped functioning, and half a day after that, she finally
succumbed to her injuries. Her body was laid to rest with
state honours on August 25 at Banani Graveyard.
of people -- family, friends and colleagues, freedom fighters,
women's rights activists, political leaders and common people
-- who mourned her death, bear witness to the fact that Ivy
Rahman was not just an Awami League leader. She was a national
leader, deeply revered and loved by all who knew her and all
who knew of her.
was a leader of the people and a champion of women's rights
in this country. Along with her bereaving family and party
members, Ivy Rahman will be greatly missed by the general
people, whose freedom she fought for not only during the liberation
war, but every day since, every time she stood up for every
(R) thedailystar.net 2004