View Full Version : My own little Palestine: Shambhu Rahmat

May 25, 2011, 07:20 AM
From the Daily Star:


My own little Palestine
Shambhu Rahmat

Imagine a country where troubles started with British masters. Drawing lines, separating people, making countries. Some gained freedom, others became prisoners.After World War II, the exhausted Empire in retreat -- new post-colonial nations are created. For geo-political reasons, borders are drawn and people find themselves in another country. The original inhabitants of that land now become a problem. They have no documents proving legal ownership of the land they lived in for generations. Slowly they start to see settlers -- new arrivals subsidised by an invisible, far-away state. Ironically the settlers belong to a people who have been historically oppressed, and have just emerged from a genocide. But they fail to see the contradiction in their own action.

Soon, very soon, the original inhabitants find themselves becoming a numeric minority. More settlers take over land and build settlements. Large construction projects also arrive, displacing entire villages. The gentle days are over.
The inevitable happens. The indigenous people lose their so-called gentleness. A charismatic leader rises and unites the disparate groups -- groups that formerly had no cohesion, structure, or politics. An armed guerilla group is born, the stated intention is to defend rights and win freedom.

For a time, the world is enamored of the figure of the romantic guerilla. But soon, other headlines dominate and they move on. Neighbouring states also support the movement for a time. Less out of solidarity, more out of a desire to make trouble for their enemy. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said in a Godard film: "The world is only interested in us because of who our opponents are."

Eventually the neighbouring states stop supporting the guerillas. The settlers are also increasingly well-protected. Lighting terrorist strikes that cause damage become difficult. Exhausted and under-funded, the guerilla movement drops the demand for full independence. Now they want autonomy, some even say partial autonomy would be acceptable.

The charismatic guerilla leader comes out of hiding. To everyone's surprise he finally recognises the right to co-existence. Some praise his maturing political approach, others remain suspicious. After top-secret talks, a historic peace treaty is signed.
Some observers are jubilant: an end to the fighting? But among the guerilla movement's own ranks, there are cries of betrayal. The movement splinters into two. The more radical group rejects the treaty, and vows to continue fighting.
The second inevitable happens. Now the two factions start fighting each other. Brother against cousin against friend. Fratricide is the order of the day, the movement for independence and rights is long forgotten.

The indigenous people are at a twilight crossroad. Independence is a shattered dream, many are so exhausted they want peace at any cost. Their children scatter all over the world -- Australia, England, America, any place that will give a visa. A new diaspora is created. The next generation is exhausted. "Give us freedom" becomes "Just give me a job and some dignity."

The once proud guerilla movement is corroded to the point of random kidnapping of foreigners. No faction claims credit, thus every person is a suspect. Even those who have assimilated and taken mainstream jobs are not protected. It all depends on the way you look, the colour of your skin, the shape of your eyes, your last name.
Everything I wrote, it happened, more or less. Not far away in the Middle East, but very close to our own homes. Our hearts bleed for Palestine, but when will they bleed for our own people? This is an elegy for the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

My commentary:

Too often we ignore the injustice that happens in our own backyard while we wax poetic about the ones happening thousands of miles away. Physician heal thyself.

May 25, 2011, 07:24 AM
Thanks for opening this thread Zunaid.

bujhee kom
May 25, 2011, 08:32 AM
Excellent Dr. Zed! Excellent Shambhu Rahmat!

mar umpire
May 25, 2011, 08:44 AM
It's a common trend, the rich get richer the poor get poorer and forms of apartheid in a greater or lesser trend exist pretty much everywhere. The way the poor are treated as well as anyone who is diferent, whether in appearance etc as well as the disabled. I think the outlook towards the mentally ill in bangladesh has to change also (I know I'm going broadside here), they need to be helped rather than villified and ostracised
We have to fix ourselves first, the condition of a nation won't change until the people change themselves

May 25, 2011, 11:45 PM

May 27, 2011, 07:38 AM
As with any conflict, people only care if it involves people of same ethnic background or same religious background. In case of Chakmas they dont share either with majority of Bangladeshis. Thats the sad reality.

I knew nothing about the conflict while I was in BD ten years ago. Only learned about it after I left the country and started using internet. I used to think shanti bahini was UN peacekeepers sent to Africa.
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May 27, 2011, 07:40 AM
As with any conflict, people only care if it involves people of same ethnic background or same religious background.

Broad generalization.

May 27, 2011, 07:50 AM
Broad generalization.wasnt condoning it, just stating the reality, as is the case most conflicts.
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May 27, 2011, 07:57 AM
wasnt condoning it, just stating the reality, as is the case most conflicts.

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I am not saying you are, but it was a sweeping generalization because beneath the layers lies a humanity that has care and love transcending race, gender, religion. First world counties show it more because they have better lifestyle, while layers of poverty prevents some.

Are you saying if a distant country in, say, Mogadishu decide to pass a law to kill all first borns, the world wouldn't react? May be, the third world countries won't because they have a stomach to feed and worry about other things, but majority of people will because of the inherent good nature of mankind.