open letter to the Prime Minister, leader of the main opposition, and my
Dr. Humayun Azad is a rule-breaking
freethinking author, poet, critic, column writer and Professor of
Dhaka University, Bangladesh. He is well known for his fearless
practice of free thinking and open criticism of Islam and Muslims. On
27 February 2004 he came under a vicious attack by unidentified
assailants following the publication of a novel titled Pak Sar
Jamin Saad Baad. In this novel he tried to expose the attitudes
and activities of the Islamists, Razakars (war criminals and
collaborators of '71) and the ultra-nationalists in Bangladesh. He
simulated a scenario that vividly portrayed fanatic and barbaric
nature of these groups.
Dr. Azad received special treatment at Bumrungrad Hospital,
Bangkok. After arriving in Bangladesh, he is receiving repeated
death threats; also his family members are exposed to serious danger
from Islamic fanatics of Bangladesh. Humayun Azad, being
anxious, has written in a Bangla Daily on 28 July, 2004 the following
heart rendering open letter to Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and
to the countrymen depicting his utterly miserable present life. Mukto-Mona
took initiative to translate the piece into English as per Dr. Azad's
permission and recommendation.
PM, leader of the main opposition, my countrymen, I am penning this open
letter to you after being utterly helpless, physically attacked, and in
a state of hopelessness. All
these have made my life and my family membersí life unbearable.
As I was returning from this yearís ĎBook Fairí in the
evening of February 27, some killer goons attacked me physically; I was
not supposed to have lived after the brutal attack.
Nonetheless, I returned to this mortal world after being
ďdeadĒ (in coma) for four days.
For this, I remain ever so grateful to everyone.
I am thankful to the honorable PM because she took care of my
treatment in the aftermath of the attack; I am also indebted to the main
opposition party leader for she came hurriedly to see me after I was
physically assaulted and she feared for my life; I am also greatly
indebted to my countrymen those who grieved seeing my hapless condition,
they were moved and they prayed for my well-being.
I am also thankful to my fellow academicians and students at the
universities, artists, and politicians those who worked tirelessly to
keep me alive. I was not
supposed to come back to life, but I did.
For which a dedicated bunch of physicians should receive my
plaudits. I remain ever so
grateful to them.
After I was mortally
wounded on February 27, I became a darling to my countrymen; those who
never knew me before they also inquired about my well-being. However,
I am now attacked again and my family is living in a state of
despondency; we are now living in a state of fright.
On July 24, 2004, the evil bunch who attacked me earlier tried to
abduct my only son, Anannya; on July 25, 2004, they put us again in a
state of panic after threatening us through a telephone call this time
they said that they will blast a bomb in my house.
At this time, mine is the most panic stricken family in
whose members may be hurt in any moment.
That is the reason I am now appealing to you hoping that you may
come forward to help me out. You are the only ones who lend your
helping hand at this time of despair. You have done your duty when
I was struggling with my death; arenít you going to stand by me at
this perilous time too?
look physically alright now, but I am far from being mentally strong.
One of my eyes is half blind. I am carrying a disfigured face with the
scars of vicious attack on it, the sutures on my face are still painful
for me, my lips are partially numb, I wear dentures, infirmity has taken
hold of me. After my return from medical treatment in abroad, I am
virtually interned in my home because my life is not safe outside. I
maybe attacked physically if I venture to go outside. For my
safety the government has posted some police force in front of my
residence for which I am thankful. Still then, I am receiving
repeated death threats; my family members are exposed to serious danger.
All these are making our lives utterly miserable. I cannot look at
the panic-stricken faces of my beloved ones because their countenance
bears the mark of mental anguish. It seems as if they are living in a
state of fear surrounded by sharp knives or living near a live volcano.
Sometimes I feel that the marauding gang of assassins surrounds them and
there is no one to protect them. Under this dire circumstance,
living a normal life is all too difficult and meaningless; I donít
know whether you could imagine the state of hopelessness that I am now
as a family feel that this fear for untimely death is dictating our
daily life now. We could have committed a mass suicide if we knew
beforehand we would attain the Nirvana from our wretched life. We
would have showered our assassins with the moon and flowers as we
prepare to exit from this mortal world. But we are infirm, our love for
this mortal world is too strong, and that is why we remain in a state of
alert. I fear for the safe return of my family members whoever and
whenever go out. When I am out, I fear for their safety who are at home.
Even in 1971, my life was not that difficult! These days I feel
pity for myself, for my life, and for my hapless motherland. What
has become of this land where a professor and a writer cannot lead a
simple and placid life, cannot browse a book or pen a stanza of poem.
This is because the roving assassins are making his life a miserable one
even in his sleep. Did we want
for all this? Did many a patriot shed their blood for this?
am a professor and a writer. I have been teaching for the last 36 years
and writing for even longer period. I never did neglect to teach
my students properly; I taught them as per their acumen and interest;
thousands of students considered me as one of their dearest and best
teacher. Their love and respect for me had gratified me. I
always tried to teach my students new things; tried my best to get them
out of the old moldings because I believe in my heart that it is the
very nature of knowledge to create new things. The world of ours
has progressed thus far because humankind has been able to generate new
information. I have been writing ceaselessly, not keeping myself
confined in a particular area, but expanding my interest in variegated
disciplines from linguistics to poems. Poetry, novel, essay,
criticism, linguistics, political analysis, literature for kids, etc.,
are the myriad fields in which I have contributed thus far. I have
published about 70 books. Many a readers agree that I have
enriched Bengali literature through my writings, and even after my
departure from this world my contributions will be remembered.
Despite all these positive contributions, my life is a wretched one at
this time because the assassins are regularly issuing death threats
against my family members and me. Living in the shadow of a
constant threat I am becoming oblivious to knowledge and literature.
Is it then fair that one of the leading professors of
has to live under constant threat of being killed? Have I done
well in my studies, earned a good name for myself as an academician and
writer, earned the respect from my countrymen only to be threatened by
the goons who want to see me dead? Will my premature death in the
hands of the assassins bring prosperity to
? Or, will it mar the nation with disgrace?
am both a scribe and a sensitive human being to whom it is more
disgraceful to live in the confine of my house than to be dead. I
oft-remember once I used to take a stroll by myself, visit a village to
see the moon, birds, and rivers. Today, I am denied of this privilege;
today, I cannot walk alone or look at the moon, river, or birds.
To the contrary, those marauding assassins, who never looked at the
moon, have their rights preserved who want to see me a dead man.
To a person who wants to enrich himself with knowledge and who wants to
write, nothing could be worse than being interned into a house; this
would blunt his creativity. I am not alone in this predicament;
quite a few other professors of
had been given the death sentence by the obscurantists. I feel
their pain, but for how long do we have to endure this pain? Dear
Prime Minister, leader of the main opposition party, my countrymen, this
not the time for you to remain reticent, you must take care of those
people very sternly who are inflicting this pain on us. This is
your noble duty. You have to carry out your duty or else the
future generation will look at you with ambivalence.
want to see our motherland,
, as a developed, modern, and peaceful country; however, we failed in
the past to build our nation in that way. The image
portrays to outside world is not a good one; the way the recent threats
to my family and myself have perturbed us will mar the image even
further. For sure, you know that those who are making my life
miserable belong to a separate ideology. A nation is deemed to
prosper, and could only progress when there exists diversity of
opinions, and when people holding diverse opinions can live
side-by-side. The essence of democracy is to respect and tolerate
diverging opinions and beliefs.
could refute an opinion or ideology only through knowledge and reasons,
but nowhere it says that a person with differing opinion should be
threatened to be killed or eventually be killed. Unfortunately, in
it has become a norm not to debate with a person who holds a counter
view, but to settle the score with a threat to kill the person or by
killing the person. I have become a prime target now for political
assassination. Isnít it true that my writings have enriched
? Have I not dedicated my life for
because I love my country? Once I am gone from this mortal world,
wonít Bangalees feel proud for what I have done? If these are
correct, then why am I being tortured this way when I am still alive?
I am hoping that you will come to aid in my time of distress,
immediately at this critical time of our extreme distress and danger.
is amidst a great danger now, a devastated flood has struck us, there is
no end to human sufferings; however, this is not the last deluge to hit
is sinking albeit very slowly, according to some geologist the nation
may sink into the
Bay of Bengal
in the next quarter of the century. But we could obstruct this
downward journey through knowledge and our effort. If we fail to
take up the measure, then we, the nationals of
, have to swim ashore to another nation just as a rodent does.
Maybe, others will refuse us to climb ashore. Many of us would be
dead in the next quarter of the century. However, we should work
for our next generation. We are duty bound to build a nation that
is safe and advanced for our next generation.
no one gives a damn about it. The fundamentalists are bent on
killing people who hold a similar philosophy of life like mine; they
think annihilating folks like me would solve all the problems that ail
. Amidst this devastating flood, I would like to mingle with our
people, but I am bereft of that right. Being confined to the four
walls of my house I could see how agonizingly they are passing theirs
time. I hear that my ancestral village is under water, but I could
hardly visit the place; if I attempt to go there, the marauding band of
assassins will surely follow me. The nature is wreaking havoc on
us now, but those assassins who hold a differing view from mine put my
life in danger. This vile force has not given up the idea to
threaten me ad infinitum even when calamities have struck
Dear honorable Prime Minister, leader of the main opposition party, my
countrymen, in this time of great danger I am handing over the security
of my family members and mine in your hand. It is up to you to
will remain under the sharp instrument of murder hold by the marauding
band of assassins, should my family members and I spend sleepless night
frightened by the ominous presence of the goons? Should the nation
of ours be inundated with blood? Will the humanity get a shiver
in this pathetic state? We donít have much time. You decide what
would be the proper step to take, and this is my earnest request to you
all, my countrymen, including you- respected PM and the leader of the