Khushi Kabir (center) at a music social organized by Britto Arts Trust
In Dhaka, I stay at Khushi Kabir’s house, without whose help I wouldn’t have been able to obtain a visa visit Bangladesh. I’m learning all over again that we live at a time when country of birth – no matter what passport one holds – is what determines eligibility for different visas. Pakistani birth is particularly unpopular.
By my second afternoon in the city – thanks to Khushi – I’ve connected with many artists, activists, and community members including: Mahbubur Rahman from the Britto Arts Trust, Shipra Bose who’s involved in the Shahbagh protests, long-time activist Hameeda Hossain, Shahidul Alam and his team at DRIK, and Afsan Chowdhury at BRAC Center.
At night, over an iftar-dinner at Sara Hossain’s, I interview her mother Hameeda Hossain, who talks about a left-wing magazine, The Forum, that she started in the late 1960’s, one that was shut down in March 1971, when the Pakistani Army began its violent operations in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
In most conversations, there is reference to 1971, and the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani Army, especially since currently there is an International Tribunal to investigate and prosecute suspects who participated in the mass killings of 1971.