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Samari Chakma & Naeem Mohaiemen: Bor-Porong|Duburider Atmokothon|Autobiography of the Drowned

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Samari Chakma & Naeem Mohaiemen
Samari Chakma
Advocate Samari CHAKMA was the first Chakma female lawyer enrolled to plead cases at the Bangladesh Supreme Court (in 2017). Like many of her people, she faced severe harassment which eventually forced her into exile in Australia.

Samari was born in Khagrachari, Bangladesh. Samari’s legal work is focused on providing legal assistance to rape victims, and victims of false cases, due to the ongoing political crisis of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Samari was involved in the editing of two Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) publications — The Diary of Kalpana Chakma and Paharer Ruddho Kontho. In 2013 she founded, with comrades, the Comrade Rupak Chakma Memorial Trust, providing scholarships to 16 Pahari students. She is an editor at the online collective Thotkata and her writing has been published in New Age, Survivable International, and Alal O Dulal. Samari Chakma remains in forced exile in Australia for her safety.

Naeem Mohaiemen
Naeem MOHAIEMEN makes films, installations and essays about socialist utopia, unstable borders, and fading family units.

His essays include ‘Peace in Our Time?’ (Chittagong Hill Tracts 1715-1997) (1997), ‘Connecting the Visible Dots: A Post-Accord history’ (2010), ‘The Ginger Merchant of History: Standing in the shadow of ‘Giants’’ (2016), ‘Muhammad Ali’s Bangladesh Passport: Unsteady Dreams of a Muslim International’ (2016), ‘Simulation at Wars’ End: A ‘Documentary’ in the Field of Evidence Quest’ (2016), and ‘Flying Blind: Waiting for a Real Reckoning on 1971’ (2011). He is co-editor of Between Ashes and Hope: Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Drishtipat 2010), and System Error: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (Papesse 2007).
Place of Origin


Samari Chakma (in Sydney) and Naeem Mohaiemen (in Dhaka) read simultaneously, over the internet, from Samari’s book, Kaptai Badh: Bor-Porong.

This is an oral history of Chakma people who were exiled by flooding in the Kaptai Hydroelectric Dam project of 1960-64 (Pakistan period). Each paragraph in Chakma is followed by its translation into Bangla. This gesture of reciprocal translation comes during the pandemic, a time when conversations are isolated and digital, whether with a neighbour in Dhaka or an exiled comrade in Sydney. Placing Chakma in the dominant role is a rebuke to the role of Bangladesh in extinguishing indigenous Pahari languages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). These are the languages of the Adivasi peoples (collectively Pahari or Jumma): Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tanchangya, Santal, Chak, Pankho, Mro, Bom, Lushei, Khyang, Gurkha, Ahomi, Rakhin and Khumi.

The drowning of Pahari villages in 1960s East Pakistan was followed by the exclusion from the constitution of independent Bangladesh –– which defined all citizens as Bengalis. From 1975 until the signing of the 1997 CHT Accord, the Pahari people fought for regional autonomy. Parts of the Accord remain unimplemented, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts remain a hostile land for its original indigenous peoples. While we rightfully advocate for Rohingya refugees pushed into Bangladesh, we forget the refugees we have created: many fled to India from the 1960s until the 1990s.

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