Three lakh potential participants; thirty lakh martyrs; 30,000,000 taka donation. That says, 100 taka per participant, and taka 10 per martyr. We do not have to be a mathematician to calculate these figures. Those who suspect that the number of martyrs might be less than three million, the per capita allocation would go even higher for the martyrs! So, the lower the estimates, the higher the budget per martyr indicating greater respect!
Yes, we are talking about the proposed world’s largest national anthem chorus to be held on the occasion of celebrating Bangladesh’s Day of Independence on March 26 (2014). While such an arrangement may not arguably be the best signature of patriotism, there is no point in discouraging one such since anything pro-liberation is adorable and appreciable. But, what about when the sponsorship comes from Islami Bank Bangladesh, an organisation allegedly run by war criminals that has been engaged in terror financing?
The National Anthem of Bangladesh is one of the most expensive anthems in the human history that was made Bangladesh’s own at the cost of 3,000,000 martyrs along with 200,000-400,000 rapes among others. We did not have to have a Guru to learn how to sing the national anthem. We saw, in war documentaries and in war-based films, how ‘unprofessionally’ those freedom fighters were singing the national anthem in the battlefield. We, however, never complained against for not satisfying the exact notations of the song. National Anthem being a song can easily be sung by anyone with sufficient training in music, without even knowing the literal meaning of the song, let alone the essence. But the anthem is not merely a song; we only sing it by heart, and passion, and conscience.
Even though the national anthem of Bangladesh is not a melancholic one, I saw many people crying while singing the song. My friend Shanto would never sing any song as he is musically challenged (at least this is how he describes his talent!), but he certainly would if it was the national anthem. This is the only song he would loudly sing to prove once again to those who do not believe his statement that he is not good at singing. And, this is Shanto who was found with his eyes humid while singing the national anthem, just a few months earlier. Trust your heart when it comes to patriotism; it works!
We have been singing this song ever since, unconditionally, or should I say conditional to our love and devotion to our motherland. We never waited for anyone to force us to sing the song. Did we even ask for any favour, ever? Then why make it a matter of thousands of dollars? If it is required for logistic purpose, why is the donation from Islami Bank?
Most of our freedom fighters have been living through extreme poverty. Being the principal artists of a wonderfully bloody monument called Bangladesh, they never complained against their situation. If anything they did, this was against our collective negligence towards them. The agony got exponentially magnified when war criminals were brought to the ministry, and a freedom fighter would need to salute a war criminal. This is unacceptable mockery with the veterans. You may not care about the fact that we shamefully failed to ensure minimally comfortable lives for our heroes/heroines, but you do not have the right to consider them objects of ridicule, and act accordingly.
A freedom fighter would never take his hats off before a perpetrator, nor would he accept any favour from the collaborators. He would rather choose to perish in financial definition of poverty, but he would know he lived an aesthetically wealthy life. That is the core idea of liberation and independence which he fought for. It is an utterly stupid idea to measure the chest size of a freedom fighter with a conventional measuring tape. Not everyone is an Al Mahmud!
Please do not even come up with the creative idea that the money is not a war criminal, and/or that all money is white if spent for greater good etc. We know much about your creativity already! Do not mess around anymore, please! We are fighting against the war criminals and extremists, and this very financial institution is “of the extremists, [run] by the extremists, and for the extremists”. Is it not ridiculous to even think of receiving any donation when there has been widespread demand of banning the organisations (including the political party itself) of the extremists and war criminals!
There is no reason to entertain the fact that they are donating money for a good reason. Criminals donate only to have it returned with extreme rates of interests. We do not have to go that far; our politics is a fertile example of one such. The donation is only the cream topper with poison inside!
No matter what the explanation is, we do not want the donation to come from a terror-financing organisation for any event, let alone one such significant national event. This is not about mathematics or economics which might think of it as a matter of number or objective transaction, respectively. It is all about passion. It is all about heart. And we reiterate, we rely on our hearts. And, it works!
Nazrul Islam is a faculty member of University of British Columbia, Canada.