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    Unconditional Love: Story of 1971 War Babies


Mustafa Chowdhury, Banglaeshi-origin Canadian, shares his insights about his research on the war babies of the Liberation War, with Daily Our Time in an excluside interview carried out by Sofian Khan.
Unconditional Love: Story of 1971 War Babies


OurtimeBD.com
23.01.2018

Born and raised in Bangladesh, Mustafa Chowdhury left for Canada back in 1972 when he was only 23. While working for the Government of Canada, he took an interest in the war babies of Bangladesh mainly because he was involved in conducting research in the area of children of mixed marriage and their notion of identity in Canada. According to Chowdhury, the first batch of war babies that were sent off to Canada was in July 1972.Having spent 20 long years, Chowdhury completed his comprehensive research on the war babies of Bangladesh. Chowdhury’s book titled ’71-er Judhoshishu : ObiditoItihash and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: Story of 1971 War Babies (English version) published by the Dhaka-based Academic Press and Publishers Library offers a pivotal part of the history of the Liberation War of Bangladesh. In it he chronicled the story of the war babies in his widely read book on the war babies of Bangladesh.
According to Chowdhury, he has written this book in the hope that the story of their adoption would fill a gap that exist in the historiography of the War of Liberation. As well, he hopes that their story would provide another lens through which to view inter-racial adoption on higher grounds of morality and justice.
In setting the context and the history of the war babies, Chowdhury summarizes the entire story of the enforced pregnancies of the birthmothers and the birth, abandonment and adoption of the war babies. He also describes how the Government of the day had been aware how one particular attitude that persisted amongst Bangladeshis against the war-babies, having the “badness” with which they were born, was so strong that it had continued to remain all through.
They were sent to Canada through a special program initiative of Bongobondhu who was touched by the tragic circumstances under which they were born. Given the deep-seated societal stigma attached to the war-babies’ birth history, the Government had also recognized that adoption or acceptance of the war-babies was an impossibility in Bangladesh. According to Chowdhury, personally, Bongobondhu was cognizant that the country was treading on a new ground and tackling a deep social issue. Anticipating such problems from the beginning, the Government was concerned as the war-babies were being abandoned at the same rate they were being born in every nook and cranny of the country. Given that the Bangladeshi culture places tremendous emphasis on purity of lineage, and in the absence of their biological fathers, understandably, the birthmothers were relinquishing the newborns immediately upon birth.While talking about what the Government and the people of Bangladesh could do regarding the war babies of Bangladesh, Chowdhury said he is happy to see that there is now an interest in this area that had been neglected thus far. He said that Bangladeshis have come a long way – there was a time when the war babies were frowned up as they were seen as “unwanted” and “illegitimate” babies. In the last forty-five years, the society has changed to some extent. According to Chowdhury, he is happy to note that today war baby as a subject has entered into our vocabulary and that a kind of conversation has begun. They are seen and talked about in a positive light. This is a good sign. He is hopeful that “as we become more and more enlightened, we will be prepared to do our best to address the issues pertaining the war babies of Bangladesh.”
He also believes that the Government could assist in raising awareness among the people of Bangladesh regarding the war babies who are a part of the national history of the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Chowdhury regretted that although there have been voluminous writings on the Liberation War of Bangladesh, nothing has been written on the actual war babies who were born as a result of rapes during the Bengalis’ struggle for independence. “The war babies,” says Chowdhury, “are the fall out of the war thus far ignored in our history books.” He argues that the Government could set up a website and invite all war babies across the world to self-identify so that a data based could be established. In the 1970s that had fallen into complete oblivion. Ministry relating to Muktijudho, Department of History of various universities, National Liberation Museum etc. are some of the organizations that could take a lead role in developing projects regarding he war babies of Bangladesh many of whom were raised outside of Bangladesh. Chowdhury believes that at 45, the war babies are not crazy about any kind of compensation. Instead what they would be interested in is a simple recognition by the Government – finding a way to embrace them into the nations bosom with dignity and honor.
Nothing else will make them happier than a simple recognition of the fact that the people of Bangladesh were wrong in not accepting them as their children. They had received the love and affection they deserved from their adoptive parents. They did not receive any such thing in Bangladesh. All they were subjected to during the time of their birth, was disgrace, hatred and despise having been characterized as “bastards”. “Now that the people of Bangladesh are becoming aware of the stories relating to the war babies, argues Chowdhury, “we could turn around, give the past a positive tone, with the help of the Government and NGOs.”
Chowdhury remains hopeful that the people of Bangladesh will embrace the war babies as an integral part of the country’s history.


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