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     Volume 4 Issue 75 | December 16, 2005 |

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Remembering a Martyr

Dr. N. Rabbee

"KAHA le ja rahe ho? Kiu le ja rahe ho?" were the last words Mrs. Rabbee uttered to the Pakistani army before she lost consciousness and fell to the ground on the upper balcony of her home on Jalpaiguri Lane in Shiddeshwari, Dhaka. The Pakistani army released their bayonets from her chest and marched off with her husband, Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, December 15th, 1971. They gave the false pretext of a critically ill patient in the cantonment. "Amar gaye e haat debe na", Dr. Fazle Rabbee commanded the generals in Bangla. He then hurriedly walked into the microbus waiting for him downstairs, looking ever so slightly back towards his beloved wife with whom he had fallen in love the moment he laid eyes on her at the Dhaka Medical College. This is how they parted forever.

Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee, a renowned cardiologist with international acclaim, was a gold medallist throughout his distinguished academic career. He completed his post-graduate training in internal medicine and cardiology in the United Kingdom in record time and immediately returned to East Pakistan to serve his country. He became the chairman of both internal medicine and cardiology departments of Dhaka Medical College within the shortest time possible. He implemented innovative and egalitarian ways of teaching

Dr. Rabbee with his wife, Late Dr. Jahan Ara Rabbee

medical students and always sought out to treat those patients who were the most critical or for whom there was nobody to care.

Each week Dr. Rabbee and his wife entertained leading artists, journalists, academicians, scientists and philosophers in their drawing room. Through lively discussions, these intellectuals weaved a vision for Bangladesh as a secular, progressive and sovereign nation, free from repressive and fundamentalist forces. Dr. Rabbee embraced these principles in his daily life. A compassionate humanist, he worked ardently towards poverty and disease elimination in his clinical practice, as well in his capacity as the highest ranking medical Professor. He spoke to various audiences in favour of free medical care for the masses. He accepted no fees from hundreds of patients who came to see him. He treated all patients and associates with utmost respect and dignity. He never discriminated between rich or poor, female or male, Hindu or Muslim, Urdu or Bangla speaking, young or old patients.

The first question Mrs. Rabbee posed to the Pakistani army has been answered. They were taken to the Physical Training Institute that was used as an extermination camp for the intellectuals. The second question she asked has not been fully answered. The 1971 genocide and persecution of Bangali intellectuals was methodically organised and executed by the Pakistani army, army intelligence and Bangali collaborators. It is unfortunate that not a single government, since our independence, has made an attempt to bring those responsible for this genocide to justice. This planned genocide is comparable to the Holocaust, where Nazi Germany committed unspeakable atrocities against Jews in a systematic way. Since the beginning, the Pakistani government discriminated against Bangla speaking citizens. This prejudice was often rationalised in the name of our sacred religion. The concept of speaking Bangla, or having a secular, modern, free society was unacceptable to that regime. Dr. Rabbee and countless others fought back as the regime started mass murder, rape and genocide in East Pakistan in 1971. The birth of Bangladesh is thus indistinguishable from the legacy of courage these brilliant martyrs have left behind. Ordinary Bangladeshis must honour and celebrate these legends who paid the highest price to win our national independence. In loving memory of Dr. and Mrs. Rabbee, two scholarships funds are being started in Sir Salimullah Etimkhana by their family in 2005.

(Dr. Nusrat Rabbee is the daughter of Shaheed Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee and Late Dr. Mrs. Jahan Ara Rabbee.)

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