Terracotta Creatives

an organisation dedicated to the pursuit, cultivation and preservation of art

Exhibition: Phoenix of Langadu

The exhibition entitled “Phoenix of Langadu” was held in Drik Gallery, Dhanmondi (House: 58, Road: 15/A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka- 1209), from 3 pm – 8 pm from 16th – 18th October 2017. The exhibition was a creative initiative organized by Terracotta Creatives Multimedia, in association with Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples and Exclusive Partner Drik Picture Library Ltd. and Creative Partners Hill Artists Group and BotTala. We are grateful to Research and Development Collective (RDC), Secretariat of Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples, for organizing a press conference and facilitating our initiative.

The exhibition consisted of 50 photographs and more than 80 paintings for sale. There was an installation art depicting the horror of the burning of Langadu as well as performance art pieces and publications. Through this
initiative more than 100 artists of Bangladesh stood by the victims of Langadu and expressed their solidarity. The sale profits of the exhibition was contributed for rebuilding a school to assist the victims of Langadu, particularly the children.

Background:

Bangladesh is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic country and is the motherland of Bengalis as well as at least 75 Indigenous communities, commonly referred to as Adivasis. Among them, 13 Indigenous communities reside in the Chittagong Hill Tracts along with an equal population of Bengali settlers. On 2nd June, 2017, the Chakma community living in Langadu, an Upazila of Rangamati, have been victimised by a communal attack by the local Bengali settlers. As a result, 224 houses and shops across three villages – Tintilla, Baittapara and Manikjorchora, have been burnt to ashes. Furthermore, 87 houses have been partially damaged and approprixamately 400 families are directly or indirectly under the threat of losing their own lives & property.

The Chakma population of Langadu were forced to leave their homes in fear for their lives; their only belongings being the clothes they were wearing at that time. All their valuables including jewelry and deeds burnt down to the ground along with their hopes of a peaceful life in their traditional lands. This is not the first time this has happened to the Indigenous Peoples in Chittagong Hill Tracts or of Langadu. In fact, this is the second time the people of Langadu have been rendered homeless within three decades. In 4th May, 1989, more than 30 people were killed and many more wounded as thousands of Chakma people living in Langadu lost their homes and all belongings, following the death of the Chairman of Langadu Upazila, Abdur Rashid Sarker. Afterwards, thousands of people were internally displaced in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region and according to international media, at least 8500 Chakmas took refuge in our neighbouring country India.

In light of these events, we felt the necessity to build support for the Indigenous Peoples among the mainstream Bengali population in the spirit of accommodation and secularism that out constitution holds.

Exhibition Details:

The opening ceremony took place on 16th October, 2017, Monday at 3 pm. Honourable Minister Rashed Khan Menon, MP, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, inaugurated the exhibition and was among us as the chief guest. Prof. Dr. Mesbah Kamal, Coordinator of Technical Committee, Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples will Chair the session. Poet Kazi Rozi MP, and Ms. Banchita Chakma, Member of National Human Rights Commission were present as special guests. Mr. Moni Shankar Chakma and Mr. Kulin Mitra Chakma, local representatives of Langadu, were present as invited speakers. Ms. Zannat-E-Ferdousi, Technocrat Member of IP Caucus, moderated the opening ceremony.

The closing ceremony took place on 18th October, 2017 at Wednesday at 5 pm. Honourable Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, MP, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, was present as the Chief Guest. H.E. Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo, Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines; Mr. Iftekharuzzaman, Member of CHT Commission; Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, were present as special guests. Ms. Mrittika Kamal, Director of Terracotta Creatives Multimedia, presented the thank you speech.

Message from the curator:

“The truth is, I feel responsible for the Langadu incident. I am ashamed that some Bengalis, people of my ethnicity, attacked the Indigenous Peoples of Chittagong Hill Tracts. On the other hand, I feel victimized. I do not feel safe in this country when other citizens are being evicted from their homes and burnt alive in Langadu or anywhere in the hills or plain lands of Bangladesh. I begin to question the state, why the victims of Langadu have not received any relief after 12th July? I urge the government to take immediate action and send relief to the starving people of Langadu before the localised famine in Langadu begins to take further tolls. I urge the civil society to come to the exhibition and support our initiative.

As the voice of conscience, we seek your support.”

Mrittika Kamal

Impact of the exhibition:

Our activism through art met with a positive response from the civil society as they visited the exhibition and supported our initiative. The journalists also took a crucial role and the Langadu incident resurfaced in mass media following this exhibition. Most importantly, the government sent much needed relief to the Langadu victims.

Media Coverage:

https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/human-rights/langadu-after-the-flames-1483000

https://www.dhakatribune.com/showtime/128308/phoenix-of-langadu-kicks-off-at-drik

https://www.newagebd.net/print/article/26062

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