Mankind is passing through a tumultuous time everywhere in today's world. For the need to lay down a new ideological foundation for making a meaningful progress, human creativity has to be freed, not chained down as it is being seen nowadays. Yet, creative people are finding it hard to work in necessary freedom in this world of intolerance, racism, bigotry and unrestrained reign of money. Liberalism at the international level going backward, the worsening form of global capitalism led by immorality and corruption, rise of nationalist politics tinged with apartheid and religious intolerance and hatred, use and abuse of social media and various other factors in global and local politics contribute to making this time harder for creative people here and elsewhere.
This is, therefore, not a favourable time for writers and artists in many places in this world. But when and where was time ever favourable for them? Still, this time is fraught with too many problems for persons who want to express themselves without any restrainst from anywhere. Freedom of expression without fear has been curtailed, reduced to a lower level than before, with censorship imposed upon any one if by none, then at least by oneself. In this situation of a backward trend in arts and literature along with, perhaps, the society, Bangladesh Lekhok Oikya (Writers' Unity) was formed two years ago with the necessity for creating some space for progressive writers to put forward their ideas collectively in order to play a more effective role in social advancement.
On the past 7 April, Bangladesh Writers' Unity held its first biannual general meeting at Sandhani Eye Hospital auditorium in Dhaka. Rakhal Raha, President of Writers' Unity submitted his report outlining the various programmes they organized during this period. Despite being a young organization, its activities and roles at crucial points in national life have drawn attention from various sections. Their national level programmes of importance include protest meeting against the terrorist attack in Gulshan, discussion meeting on freedom of speech at TSC in Dhaka, proposals to improve the Ekushey book fair celebration, seminar on copyright and writers' honourarium, human chain and rally protesting a case against Professor Fahmidul Haq under Section 57 of the ICT Act, protest against Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, etc.
After Poet Saokot Hossen, General Secretary of the organization, submitted his financial report, open discuission began by those who were present in the meeting. Such writers as Zakir Talukder, Ahmad Mostafa Kamal, Imtiar Shamim, G. H. Habib, Arshad Siddiqui, Chanchal Ashraf, Mohammad Azam and Tahmina Shammi spoke in the programme and gave their valuable opinions about the past activities and the possible future course of the Writers' Unity. Poet Golam Kibria Pinu, President of Pragati Lekhok Sangha, journalist and essayist Shuvo Kibria and Poet Shams Arefin were present as guests and thanked the organization for the role it has played so far and expressed their opinions on the course it should take in the coming days.
Both strengths and weaknesses of the organization came up in the discussion by the partcipants. The weaknesses that became prominent in the discussion are: absence of programmes on issues and subjects of literature and lack of participation by younger writers in this organization. It was concluded that the past two years were spent in laying the foundation of the organization and the efforts would be spent in spreading the oraganization in the coming days. Programmes on subjects of literature will also be arranged alongside the social ones. Emphasis was put on establishing relationship and programme coordiantion with other writers' organizations committed to progressive ideals in the country. Novelist Zakir Talukder pointed to the need for establishing communications with some overseas writers' organizations, too.
The first biannual general meeting and conference of Bangladesh Writers' Unity ended with forming the new executive committee and declaring the proposal for members of the general body. Fahmidul Haq and Saokot Hossen have been elected President and General Secretary, respectively, of the writers' new committee. Authors present in the programme poured thanks on Rakhal Raha for his leadership at the birth of this organization and best wishes for Fahmidul Haq with the new burden on his shoulders. After this there was a recitation of a poem composed by Poet Matin Bairagi. Tahmina Shammi's rendering of a classical song made the ending of the hours long programme quite enjoyable and memorable for all.
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