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    Volume 10 |Issue 24 | June 24, 2011 |


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Building History Brick by Brick

The Liberation War Museum calls upon everyone to participate in funding the new museum that will preserve and promote the glorious history and values of our Liberation War

Tamanna Khan

Passing down knowledge from one generation to the next is done by preserving history. History helps to build a better future; instilling pride in new generations about their ancestor's achievements and also teaching them the difference between right and wrong. The Liberation War Museum (LWM) of Bangladesh, more commonly known to Bangladeshis as the Muktijuddha Jadughar, is no doubt, doing an excellent job in presenting the history of our glorious Liberation War to the future generations of our country and the rest of the world as well.

In 1994, the efforts of six individuals, now the trustees of the museum, initiated the journey of LWM through the creation of the Muktijuddha Smriti Trust at a photography exhibition on 1971 at La Galerie, Banani. Later in June 1995, the Trust was registered at a rented premise at Segun Bagicha, where the museum is still located. The museum was opened to the general public in March 22, 1996. Since then through donation of exhibits to fund, people of Bangladesh and freedom loving people from all over the world have continuously helped the museum to grow.

The proposed museum at Agargaon. Photo: courtesy

The Liberation War Museum does not restrict itself to exhibits, rather it interacts with people through cultural programmes, seminars and workshops on all contemporary democratic and human rights issues. Through its outreach programme and mobile museum exhibition, it reaches out to young children all over the country not only teaching them the correct history of our Liberation War but also urging them to participate in the collection of oral history and uphold the social and democratic values of the war.

Such varied tasks along with the steadily increasing collection of documents and objects related to the Liberation War have developed the need for a bigger and permanent location for the museum. In 2008, the caretaker government allotted a 2.5 bigha land at Agargaon which was purchased at the government rate by the Muktijuddho Smriti Trust to build a full-fledged museum with proper facilities and modern amenities.

Again, LWM ensured full-participation of the public at the very first basic stage of the building of the people's museum by calling upon an open jury competition from architects in October 2009 with the assistance and collaboration of the International Association of Architects Bangladesh. Almost 71 architects participated and the Jury Board formed by architects from home and abroad selected the design created by two young architects Farzana and Tanjim, informs Akku Chowdhury, a trustee of the Liberation War Museum and a freedom fighter.

Each aspect of the building's design is allegorical to the struggle of freedom and Bangladesh's history and culture. The main focus of the building - the chamber of remembrance and realisation, through which light falls upon a water body reflecting the eternal flame, signifies victory and tranquillity. The design of the chamber is an allegory to the influence of Bangabandhu's call for independence. The humble outer walls marked by bullet marks, through which light falls in the gallery, represents the ravages of war. The inner side of the wall in the upper level gallery will hold the names of martyrs. The vertical column like elements puncturing through the gallery and shooting out of the building represents both victory and the traditional Bengali warriors, the “LATHIALS".

However financing this project remains a challenge as Akku Chowdhury says: "To build our new Museum and create an endowment fund for its continuity we have targeted to raise 100 crores taka and so far we have raised almost 30 crore taka. We are confident with everyone's support and effort the target will be easily reached. We hope to use part of that fund for the construction while another part as endowment fund to be used for the Museum to operate in the future."

Already people from all walks of life are participating in funding their much loved museum. A group of 10 university students have walked 450 km in 14 days from Dhaka to Doloura, Sunamganj to raise funds. Explaining their endeavour, Sharif Reza Mahmud, the team leader says: "Just like the way ordinary people of our country had taken part in the Liberation War, we wanted the participation of commoners in the building of the Liberation War Museum and not just the elite class like the corporate bodies or businessmen or banker's association."

Deshidosh handing over their donation cheque to the trustees of LWM. Photos: Courtesy

"Students of a number of schools have donated their tiffin money," says Sharif proudly, "Among them Narayanganj's Shanarpar Sheikh Murtaza Ali High School is one. Ten female teachers of a school at Moulvibazar have donated their one-month salary. Hearing about us from the news, a young man from Brahmanbaria had waited to donate money to us by the roadside near Shahbazpur for two days. Even rickshaw pullers of Narshingdi have bought 50-taka coupons from us when we told them about the museum."

Desidosh representing the leading fashion houses of the country came up with yet another innovative idea to raise money. They opened a month-long fund collection campaign for customers and visitors of Desidosh, situated on the 7th floor of the Bashundhara Shopping Complex. Shaheen Ahmed, proprietor of Anjan, says, "Besides the individual donations of the members of Desidosh, we raised about 10 lakhs taka from the customers whose donations ranged from 50 to 3 lakh taka. We wanted to inform the people who visited the market about the project, so that they too can participate in it." Shaheen believes that his achievement as the proprietor of a leading fashion house today would not have been possible had we not earned our freedom through the Liberation War. Thus he thinks building the Liberation War Museum in a larger premise with better amenities is essential to uphold the importance of the history of our struggle for freedom.

Even the premier of the country, Sheikh Hasina, has supported this project by making time in her office on August 11, 2010 to accept funds from the leading banks of the country, informs Akku Chowdhury. He says, "We are grateful to the students who came forth to volunteer their time to raise fund for the museum building; to all individuals including school students, teachers, farmers, workers who have donated whatever they could to build their dream museum; to the corporate houses, to small, medium and large business houses, to the insurance companies, to the freedom fighters, to the shaheed poribars (martyr's family). We are grateful to the nation that they have overwhelmingly supported us to make their dream become a reality. We are ever grateful to the media who have also been with us, from that day in June 1994 when we established the Muktijuddha Smriti Trust, in our effort and reached us to the people."

You too can participate in building the dream museum for our future generation by participating in one of the donation plans of the Liberation War Museum by becoming a:

Premier Patron: Any donor contributing Taka One Crore or above

Patron: Donation of Taka 50 lacs.

Sponsor member: contributing over Taka 15 lacs.

Charter Member: Individual or organisations donating over Taka 3 lacs.

Buying a Brick: Taka 10,000 or US$ 200, £150.00/Euro 150.00

You can also provide any amount (less or more than above) to help in building the LWM in Agargaon.

The names of all donors will be engraved in the 'Donors' Wall' of the Museum.

Tax Exemption: All donations to the Liberation War Museum will be an allowable expense under section 44 (4) (b) of Income Tax Ordinance 1984 as NBR has declared LWM a Philanthropic Institution. It is also enlisted to receive funds under CSR from all corporate houses.

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