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A Salute To The 'Real-Life' Heroes

The right to a good life, the right to be free and the right to be treated without discrimination - these are all basic human rights and the only way they can be fulfilled is by the combined efforts of every person in the society. The concept of Humanity demands that a human being should come forward and help another in distress. Concern for only one's own well-being while people all around are suffering, is nothing but sheer cowardice. That is why people who step forward and risk their own lives to protect others' rights, are the true heroes of our time.

But not all heroes get recognised and appreciated in this society. Only a handful of human rights activists are popular and known to the common people while most others go unnoticed. All brave deeds deserve to be honoured and so, last Friday, December 10, 2010, in celebration of the Human Rights Day, Manusher Jonno Foundation arranged an award ceremony to honour thirteen hitherto anonymous yet dedicated activists of the country. The ceremony was held at the Mall Chattar open space near the Registry Building of Dhaka University.

Manusher Jonno Foundation is one of the leading organisations working to promote human rights and good governance in Bangladesh in association with many other partner groups. The foundation has a total of 124 affiliates all over the country at present.

“We started our journey in 2002 inspired by the title from Bhupen Hajarika's famous song 'Manush manusher jonno'. It amazes me to think that eight years have already passed by since then. Indeed we have come a very long way in these eight years,” said Syed Manzur Elahi, Chairman of governing body of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), in his presiding speech. MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam delivered the welcome speech at the programme while former secretary general of Amnesty International Irene Khan, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof. AAMS Arefin Siddique and DFID representative Daniel Davis spoke as special guests.

Thirteen activists across the country were honoured by MJF for their contribution in promoting human rights. They were - Nirmal Chandra Das, Sheikh Abdul Qaiyum, Ranglai Mro, Md. Nuruzzaman Mia, Ajoy a Mri, Bichitra Tirki, Bishodmoni Toppo, Monoara Khatun, Bilkis Banu, Jagadish Barman, Mohammad Abdus Salam Khandaker Khoka, Hena Akhter, and Kabita Rani Biswas. They were overwhelmed with emotion when asked to express their feelings about receiving the award.

“We are the ones who feel honoured by awarding them. These people are all dedicated activists who work for the sake of deprived humanity,” said Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, Chief Guest of the programme.

The award ceremony was followed by a grand 'Shangit Utshob', much to the delight of the gathered audience. Eminent singers of the country including Sabina Yasmin, Fahmida Nabi, Bappa Majumdar, Krishnokoli, Shantanu Bishwash, Partho Barua and Dolchhut, among many others, performed in this musical segment.

These thirteen activists and their contribution in protecting others' rights will always remain aglow as inspirational examples for people of all walks of life, especially for the younger generation.

By Raisa Rafique

Green and Red

Yes, yet another Victory Day is here! So what do we do this time? Adorn our cars with miniature flags, dress up in green and red and gather at Westin or Movenpick? Or perhaps attend an event commemorating the Liberation War. And the next day, the streets are littered with green and red, only to be swept clean by the impoverished citizens. That pretty much sums up our “celebration” plans. That probably sums up the fate of green and red, too. Well, maybe not, if we truly value the essence of Victory Day.

39 years back, we gained victory over oppression and dictatorship. Today, although Bangladesh is recognised as a sovereign state, we are still living under the bondage of poverty, illiteracy and corruption. It's time for the men and women of this era to not sink into despair due to the dormancy of the government in building a “digital” Bangladesh. Let's not be smitten by green and red just for one day. The Liberation War was a long struggle of nine months and had it not been for the determination of our valiant forefathers, victory would have been unattainable. Our combined efforts can give rise to a new movement. With this vision, Community Action (a registered non-profit organisation), One degree Initiative and Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative (BYEI) has begun a campaign through which we, as citizens, can preserve and accentuate the green and red victory, which we have inherited.

So what is this campaign all about? All participating organisations and individuals will work independently and engage in community service, which will give us victory over the many difficulties we face today. In 2009, over 40 organisations participated in this campaign, donating clothes and medicine, building libraries, launching clean-up drives and spending time with aging freedom fighters! Since Victory Day is an embodiment of unity, we will all be united under one banner: “Shebar Maddhome Bijoyer Prokash (Celebrating Victory Through Volunteerism)”

The participation process is simple.
· If you are a member of an organisation within Bangladesh, confirm your organisation's participation by sending an e-mail to volunteer.for.bangladesh@gmail.com, mentioning the community service event that you will be hosting.

· If you are an individual not affiliated with any organisation or wish to work online, send an e-mail mentioning your interests and a suitable project will be delegated to you.

· If you are residing abroad, get together with the local Bangali community and set an example of leadership by working towards improving the vicinity you live in or raising awareness about Bangladesh. Remember to confirm your participation.

What makes this campaign unique is that it is not restricted to the month of December. So if you are unable to participate this December, you can pledge to engage in a worthwhile act in the months ahead. The campaign is very interactive and is eager to receive ideas and event photos from you.

Keep an eye on facebook.com/cvtv71 for more information!

By Monica Islam

Victory Day Celebration at the Liberation War Museum

The most glorified moment in the history of Bangladesh is undoubtedly the day when we achieved our independence by defeating the Pakistani army on 16th December, 1971 which followed tremendous sacrifices of over 3 million people. Despite the gravity of the victory, attempts to share the memories of the war-trodden days are miserably limited. The soul of such attempts to educate the new generations about our glorious past is undoubtedly the sole Liberation War Museum situated at 5 Segunbagicha, Dhaka, albeit in a much squeezed place.

When asked about the congested space at the museum Dr. Sarwar Ali, Trustee of the museum told us that the foundation of the new Liberation War museum will be laid within a few weeks. “About 70 architectural firms participated in the competition to decide the new look for the museum which will be founded at Tejgaon. The construction work will take maximum 3 years.” The new museum will contain a much larger exhibition area, seminar rooms, movie centre, auditorium, reflection area or in other words, “a complete museum,” as Dr. Sarwar puts it.

On the 16th, and days prior to that, the authority at the Liberation War Museum will arrange quite a few ceremonies to commemorate the day. In the morning a cultural program for kids has been arranged, with the participation of students from various schools. The program will come to an end in the evening with 'Kissa-gaan Kanchyonmala' by Khokon Boyati and his team from Kishoreganj. Enthusiastic ones can visit the museum today to attend the programs as well as look through the 3000 relics on display.

A special movie screening has also been arranged today at Star Cineplex on Bashundhara City by the Liberation War museum starting from 10 in the morning.

Besides the museum premises, various programmes have also been arranged at the “Jolladkhana Bodhyobhumi (mass graveyard) Smritipith” at Section-10, Avenue-1, Mirpur from 4.30 in the afternoon.

As for the new museum construction, you can take part, too. An art exhibition by some notable artists of the country is arranged at the museum gallery. You can also donate in the following bank accounts:

Janata Bank, STD account no. 36000408
Brack bank, STD account no. 1501101658637001
Website: www.liberationwarmuseum.org
Email: mukti.jadughar@gmail.com
Phone: +880-2-9559091-2

By Jawad



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