Martyred Intellectuals’ Day
It is that time of year when we recall the sacrifices of millions of our fellow citizens in the War of Liberation in 1971. Today, it is especially significant that we recall yet once more the brave men and women —- academics, journalists, writers, doctors, et cetera —- who were picked up by the infamous al-Badr and Razakar goon squads and done to death on the eve of the liberation of Bangladesh. Those who died at the hands of the collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army, obviously with the nod of the army, were like the rest of us individuals who awaited the arrival of freedom with huge anticipation and a multitude of expectations. And those who murdered them thought, in all the darkness that conspiracy can muster, that by picking these men and women off they would be maiming the new, emerging nation at birth. Nothing could be more satisfying for a soon to be defeated force than plunging its already bloodied teeth one last time in the vigour and vitality of oncoming freedom.
Our remembrance of these martyred intellectuals today is, in a bigger sense, a recapitulation of the tortuous course of history we came through in 1971. In December of that painful year, the thought that in the final stages of the struggle we would lose some of our best and brightest was far from our minds. That the collaborators of the occupation army were going around abducting them even as the rest of us counted the hours to the rise of a free Bangladesh was a possibility that did not enter our consciousness, individual or collective. It was not until the surrender of the Pakistan occupation army that we discovered the horror of what had happened between 13 and 15 December, when all these good men and women, blindfolded, were led away to the killing fields of the al-Badr and Razakars. And since that sad dawn when their mutilated corpses were discovered in Rayerbazar, we as a nation have endlessly lived through pain. The families of these martyrs have plodded through worse, in terms of loneliness and agony. More tellingly, they have not seen the killers of their loved ones brought to justice in independent Bangladesh.
This morning, it is time to dispense with platitudes. It is not enough to say, every time December comes round, that we recall the sacrifices of our intellectuals. It is, indeed, time for the wheels of justice to turn, for those who kidnapped and killed these noble children of Bangladesh to be brought to account. Mourning does not become a society as long as it does not move to nab those who have caused it grievous misery. It is, therefore, fitting and proper that we take a pledge today to honour the memory of our martyrs through ensuring that their killers answer for their crimes in accordance with the demands of morality and internationally acknowledged law.
From our martyred intellectuals we draw renewed strength that will sustain us on our journey toward the creation of a just, egalitarian.