The 16th of December marks the anniversary of the separation from West Pakistan and the Bangladeshi Independence. Nahin had kindly organised a programme of visits for us to experience the parades and celebrations and visit cultural events.
Today we learnt a lot about the recent Bangladeshi history, information that is not in the Lonely Planet and forms a disturbing and unnerving reality about the political unrest that has shaped the country.
We drove through the city to Buddhijibi Smriti Shoudho, the memorial that commemorates the graves of over 1000 intellectuals and polititians killed in the genocide of 1971. It was in a barren part of the city and was busy with visitors. There were many families and lots of children excited to see tourists (especially carrying a camera) and before we knew it we were surrounded by tens of people waiting to be photographed!
We then visited the Liberation War Museum, opened in 1996 and set in an old colonial building. There are exhibits that tell a brief story of Bangladesh and illustrate the struggle for independence from West Pakistan. Numerous articles, photographs and artefacts from people who participated in the war (shirts, glasses, compasses, pens) were all presented neatly in glass cabinets next to human remains. We were taken back by the uncensored selection of artefacts and striking images in the museum and were faced with questions about freedom, human rights, oppression. We discovered that women were particularly vulnerable as men within the community went off to fight. www.liberationwarmuseum.org
The museum is part of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a network of museums, organisations and institutions that work together to document and interpret history and engage people in discussions. ‘..Sites of Conscience use the power of place and history to help us step up and understand the issues we face today… threats to human rights take forms, sometimes the biggest menace is not aggression but apathy…’ Hector Timerman, Chair of the Board, also Ambassador to the USA, Argentina. www.sitesofconscience.org
Downstairs were performances given by dancers and children to celebrate the Bangladeshi Culture. They all looked stunning in red and green and the atmosphere was jolly.
The celebrations continued on the streets and central squares. We visited Shaeedminar, the monument that celebrated the Bengali language and learnt people in Bangladesh had to fight to have the right to their own language and succeeded in1952.
below are images of the memorials and city life
we are still getting to grips with blogging and continuously manage to delete our entries by mistake, so bear with us, we will try to upload videos and change the format for the photographs to be larger! and stop uploading the same images again and again!
we are visiting the Textile Engineering College and the Furniture Fair tomorrow!
ismini and gary