freedom fighters
freedom fighters

Those who lived through the Liberation War are approaching the end of their lives. How can we carry on their legacy?

A friend of mine recently told me that he had three relatives who were freedom fighters. The last of them died to Covid-19 last year.

“After he died, there is no one left to give me goosebumps with heroic tales of our Liberation War. I will never get that feeling again,” he said.

When he said this, it struck me that the time when there are no more freedom fighters left alive may indeed be fast approaching.

Although the country does not have any official records on who was the youngest participant in the war, Shahidul Islam Lalu from Tangail was the youngest person to be awarded the title of “Bir Bikram.” He died in 2009 at the age of 53 and he would have been 65 years old if he lived to the present day.

When we consider that the average life expectancy in Bangladesh is 71, most freedom fighters are likely to pass on in the next six years. With such a short amount of time on hand, measures to document and preserve their knowledge must be taken in order to carry on the legacy of the Liberation War.

What does the documentation scenario look like now?

According to Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, the number of freedom fighters in the country currently stands at 160,000. Although this appears to be a significant number, all of them are elderly and many are losing their memories with every passing day.

The largest collection of Liberation War documents that exists in the modern day was prepared under the Project to Document the Liberation War undertaken by the Ministry of Information in 1978. By the end of the project, led by eminent journalist Hasan Hafizur Rahman, two 9,000-page volumes on the war had been published.

Hasan Hafizur in his own writing said: “We have collected documents and data containing approximately 350,000 pages. Now we are publishing only around 15,000 pages of documents and data, so a major portion of the collection will remain unpublished.”

Only documents that were verified thorough intensive fact-checking by the committee were included in the published collection.

Although the documents are an invaluable resource, amalgamations of data and statistics do not carry the same weight as stories from our fathers and grandfathers. Documents cannot convey the raw emotion and passion of those who actually experienced the horrific bloodshed and glorious victory.

Those who lived through the Liberation War are approaching the end of their lives. How can we carry on their legacy?

A friend of mine recently told me that he had three relatives who were freedom fighters. The last of them died to Covid-19 last year.

“After he died, there is no one left to give me goosebumps with heroic tales of our Liberation War. I will never get that feeling again,” he said.

When he said this, it struck me that the time when there are no more freedom fighters left alive may indeed be fast approaching.

Although the country does not have any official records on who was the youngest participant in the war, Shahidul Islam Lalu from Tangail was the youngest person to be awarded the title of “Bir Bikram.” He died in 2009 at the age of 53 and he would have been 65 years old if he lived to the present day.

When we consider that the average life expectancy in Bangladesh is 71, most freedom fighters are likely to pass on in the next six years. With such a short amount of time on hand, measures to document and preserve their knowledge must be taken in order to carry on the legacy of the Liberation War.

What does the documentation scenario look like now?

According to Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, the number of freedom fighters in the country currently stands at 160,000. Although this appears to be a significant number, all of them are elderly and many are losing their memories with every passing day.

The largest collection of Liberation War documents that exists in the modern day was prepared under the Project to Document the Liberation War undertaken by the Ministry of Information in 1978. By the end of the project, led by eminent journalist Hasan Hafizur Rahman, two 9,000-page volumes on the war had been published.

Hasan Hafizur in his own writing said: “We have collected documents and data containing approximately 350,000 pages. Now we are publishing only around 15,000 pages of documents and data, so a major portion of the collection will remain unpublished.”

Only documents that were verified thorough intensive fact-checking by the committee were included in the published collection.

Although the documents are an invaluable resource, amalgamations of data and statistics do not carry the same weight as stories from our fathers and grandfathers. Documents cannot convey the raw emotion and passion of those who actually experienced the horrific bloodshed and glorious victory.

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