Remembering Rakhines in the Liberation War
Krishti Aung Leona quickly travels from the 1920s to 1971
Upokoliyo Rakhine der Jibon Shongram (Struggles of Bangladeshi Coastal Rakhines) was first published as a book by Gonoprokash in February 2014. Written by U Tun Aung Zan,Upokoliyo Rakhine der Jibon Shongram is originally a short memoir of the writer. Published by the Weekly Bichitra Magazine in June 1992, the 32-page is an escapade of the writer's journey as a politician of the East Pakistan Communist Party which is now Bangladesh Communist Party. This well-crafted memoir opens several facts and real-life accounts of contributions of the Rakhines in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The book has been edited by Mostafa Mojid, a prominent Bangladeshi writer passionate about the lives of Rakhines in Patuakhali. Mojid has contributed for several national and international magazines on the Ethnic group: Rakhines in Bangladesh.
The short prologue of the book provides a glimpse of the writer's career as a journalist, politician, teacher and multilingual expert. The prologue serves as evidence to the writer's Renaissance personality. "Excelling in several Asian languages, U Tun Aung Zan taught his students English, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.'' (Mostafa Mojid, Page 5, Prologue).
The book opens on a note describing the obstacles ethnic Rakhine children faced in the 1920s while on their way to school every day. It gives a picturesque description of the daily struggles of young children and their everyday strive to receive a simple primary education. "My father had an exceptional excellence in Burmese Language. Under his guidance, I was first introduced to alphabets at the age of 5. In those days, there was no primary school in our village, nor was there any school in the villages in our neighbourhood. There was only one school in Taltali. However, to go there, we had to cross eight miles of dense forests and a hazardous canal. And at times while crossing these canals, we had to encounter deadly amphibians." (Page 1, Struggles of Bangladeshi Coastal Rakhines).
Although the title refers specifically about the lives of the coastal Rakhines, this book has also proved to be invaluable for readers with a love for history of the Indian Subcontinent. The book has brilliantly provided a brief account of the earliest migration of the Rakhines back in 1785 from the Kingdom of Arakan to Bangladesh. "After scrutinizing the facts in detail, I came to know that 200 years ago, in 1785, Bengali Year 1191, the state of Arakan was an independent Kingdom. When Arakan was defeated by the King of Burma, the Burmese King Bodawpaya, took a sacred Buddha sculpture from Arakan and placed it in their capital Mandalay. This made the people of Arakan furious and made them revolt. The tyrannical King of Burma, then ordered for a mass genocide and spared no children or women. The Arkanese people then fled in an attempt to save their lives and migrated in a neighbouring island." (Page 15, Struggles of Bangladeshi Coastal Rakhines).
Through U Tun Aung Zan's journey readers will also be enlightened about the formation of the most glorious anti-feudal, Marxist movement Nikhil Bangla Krishak Shobha which is till date the most recognized peasant front of the communist party in India and Bangladesh. U Tun Aung Zan has widely described his leadership roles as a Marxist leader at the Nikhil Bangla Krishak Shobha.
The final part of the book contains accounts of U Tun Aung Zan's involvement and contribution at the 1971 Liberation War. U Tun Aung Zan has given a vivid description of how the women and children of his ethnic tribal community were forced to seek refuge in the neighbouring villages for months in fear of the West Pakistan Shanti Committee. He has also discussed about his role as the Office-Secretary of Kalapara-Amtali electoral zone's Shongram Committee which was formed immediately after the historical speech of 7th March, 1971. "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's historical speech of 7th March 1971 led to the formation of the 'Shongram Parishad' at several divisional levels and unions. Kalapara-Amtali electoral zone formed one Shongram Committee. Awami-League's MP Mir Abul Hashem was appointed as the Chairman, Mosharaff Hossain Biswas as the Secretary and I was appointed to serve as the Office-Secretary of the Kalapara-Amtali electoral zone Shangram Committee. The Sangram Committee formed a supreme command of five members to fight in the Liberation War, I was one of them." (Page 27, Upokoliyo Rakhine der Jibon Shongram)
The book will provide an account of first-hand experiences of long struggles of the Rakhines, through U Tun Aung Zan's journey from his childhood to his contribution at the Liberation War. Readers will be enlightened with quick facts as the timeline of the book progresses quickly from the 1920s to 1971. The book will also give a quick historical backdrop of the emancipation of the Rakhines.
Krishti Aung Leona is with
The Daily Observer