This country is as much yours as is mine

Shucheesmita Simonti:

In memory of Kalpana Chakma, who was kidnapped for speaking out against abuses committed by the Bangladeshi Army in the indigenous areas that make up the CHT. Justice is long overdue, even after two decades of her abduction.

An apology to Chakma friends, and other friends from indigenous communities in Bangladesh. 

I am sorry for the racism you have experienced, for all the discrimination you endured. I am sorry for all the brutality and violence. 

I am sorry that we are from the same country,
And yet you always have to struggle in ways that I can perhaps never comprehend.
I was born in a Bengali family, and that made me a Bangladeshi.
But you also were born in the same country,
Your family has been here for centuries, just like mine.
But you are always the ‘outsider’.
I am sorry friends.
I can not do anything except feel guilt.
Some of my people have chosen to oppress you,
Kill your people brutally,
Abduct your women,
What not!
How can I ever blame you for being ‘anti-national’ if this is how
Some of our people choose to behave?
I can’t.
I can’t argue with you if you say you hate us.
Because some of us violated your rights.
I can’t say anything if you choose to hate this country.
Because we have not given you the respect
That you are entitled to.
But,
Let me tell you.
This country is as much yours as is mine.

Originally published on June 2, 2017

About Kalpana Chakma:

Kalpana Chakma, an indigenous and women’s rights activist and organizing secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation, was kidnapped on June 12, 1996, at the age of 23 from her village home in New Lalyaghona of Baghaichari, Rangamati. To this date, there is no confirmation regarding her whereabouts- whether she is alive or dead.

Kalpana was involved in highlighting the plight of indigenous women by the who were routinely being tortured, abducted, raped, discriminated against, and killed.

 

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