ANY ‘national’ war of liberation means a pervasive people’s war against un-freedom imposed by forces of imperialism, colonialism or neo-colonialism. For the people of Bangladesh, it was the war against un-freedom — political, economic and cultural — imposed by the racist forces of neo-colonial (West) Pakistan. The people achieved the victory against alien forces on December 16, 1971 and Bangladesh emerged as an independent state. The national independence promised not only freedom of the Bangladeshis from an alien rule but also enormous opportunities to build a state that would ensure equal rights for every citizen at every sphere of life, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and gender identity. But the promise did not materialise and opponents got lost in the independent Bangladesh, for the political class that took the reign of the country, and the ones that followed, was not believers of the equality of citizens.
In such betraying times, history calls for new political movements because a prime rule of the development of history is that the people’s right could be preserved only by the ceaseless people’s struggles. Some pro-people political forces outside the power made some efforts to do so, but they could not be sustained for various reasons — national and international — while the newly emerged ruling classes organised under different political banners politically consolidated so much and transformed the state into such a coercive machine over the past four decades and a half that even ruling-class political parties outside power do not dare politically demonstrate for a minimum democratic right — free and fair elections where voters freely choose candidates.
However, Bangladesh has now a number of social movements, many of them localised, against various government indifferences, policies and projects — present and past. The social resistance against anti-people government steps that victimises people and destroys environment are of immense political importance, for they generate enormous amount of confidence in people that they are capable of resisting their anti-people rulers for years. The inherent fighting spirit resembles the one that inspired people to fight the independence war. The coordination among the localised movements, such as movements for protecting natural resources, for saving the Sunderbans, against enforced disappearances, against coal aggression, against water stagnation, for road safety and so on and so forth, could eventually create a national platform for, who knows, launching a huge political movement of the people to democratise the state and society in the spirit of Bangladesh’s liberation war. Hence, the celebration of the existing social movements, particularly in the times of autocracy when political movement at the national level becomes difficult, is important. We, therefore, dedicate this year’s Victory Day special supplement to a few prominent social movements.