Before leaving for a long weekend to celebrate Victory Day, Basha artisans in our Jessore centre talked about the history behind the celebration. On December 16, 1971, East Pakistan seceded from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and became an independent country, Bangladesh. Last Thursday, Martyred Intellectuals Day was acknowledged, mourning the loss of the systematic killing of intellectuals by Pakistan as their impending loss became increasingly clear. The artisans made pictures of the National Martyrs Memorial to keep and remember.
Basha artisan, Rina, was ten years old when Bangladesh became a country. She cried as she shared with her team what it was like to experience a brutal war:
Rina came from a big family with four brothers and six sisters. She remembers not having any food for days at a time. The sounds of gunfire were everywhere. Her family moved down near a pond to hide. When the military came close, they immersed themselves in the water. Rina didn’t know how to swim and she was terrified. Her family lost their house, their cow, their goat. Rina has not forgotten all the death and blood she saw at such a young age. For nine months, she was living in constant terror. What celebrations there were when they heard Bangladesh was free!
It wasn’t too many years later that Rina was trafficked, and lost her freedom in a different way.
Freedom costs. Every Bangladeshi knows that. Rina knows that in deep and profound ways most of us never will. We celebrate, and strive for freedom for all.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” – Jayne Eyre, Charlotte Brontë