These following four letters are for the leaders of the world, the camera photographer who shot my 28 minutes long lynching, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and the Bangladeshi media.
To honor the dead, especially a minor, no graphic picture will be published here. The author also decides not to share the link to the 28 minutes long video of the brutal murder of a 13-year-old Rajon, a vegetable vendor, in Sylhet, Bangladesh last week. If the reader feels like so, (s)he is just one search engine away. In this article, the writer writes as the victim, as the voice of the community; albeit all opinions are his own.
Dear Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary General, United Nations), President Obama, Ms. Malala Yusufzai and Doctor Muhammad Yunus (all three, Nobel Laureates for Peace), and finally, the person who shot the 28 minutes video of mine, while I was being beaten, intentionally dehydrated and was told to drink my own sweat as I begged for some water,
Assalamualaikum! (Peace be upon you). Eid Mubarak to you all.
Unfortunately, I am beyond your reach now. I am dead. I was killed by four men in Sylhet, Bangladesh on July 8, and the graphic account, in form of a video (released on July 12, 2015) must have crossed your computer screens by this time. I hear, Facebook is a thing where people can show their work. You can see my demise, and the ‘work’ of my perpetrators. Did you ‘like‘ it?
I wish to thank you for identifying and filing cases against four of those men. At any rate, I am no angel. I was alleged of stealing Taka 10 ($0.12). According to Penal Code of Bangladesh (pen:484-502.9), I was supposed to be handed to the authorities.
But hey, it is democracy, is it not? Is it not euphemism for ‘Mob Rules?’
Unless you have the stomach to view my 28-minutes long visual narrative of demise, I suggest you Google me and you will find the full textual account of my expiration. Even if that cannot be digested in the month of Ramadan, newspapers will definitely show you what I look like. Not smiling, tied down, beaten up, thirsty, and finally dead.
As a 13-year-old underprivileged boy, I am not aware of how to set up a budget or a national election; but I know that money buys food. I also know that police bhais are scary. They beat us a lot. They don’t beat people wearing shirts. But that is okay, we have accepted that.
The final point I want to introduce to you is that, it was not only that my ‘alleged’ crime was the reason for my untimely death; rather, one of the four men, carrying the video camera made sure that I was indeed moribund but a man made sure that the incident’s video reaches social media.
Therefore, dear leaders, I plead that, in the momentous hour when Bangladesh has reached the ranks of a middle-income country, we do not tarnish such accolades through insignificant individuals like myself. I am Rajon from Sylhet.
Rajon (I was 13. I don’t know my birthday.)
Dear Mr. Cell-phone photographer who captured my 28-minutes long death,
Thank you. You had to do it so you can “to show it to Facebook” and brag about it. Sure, you have been detained, but where is the line? I stole 10 taka ($0.15) and you four put me to death; not by sword, or guns but through torture. I’m sure most readers have watched the video (which the writer do not suggest) or the pictures. Was my death penalty justified?
“Paaani Paani (Water, Water)!”
“No water! Drink your own sweat!”
When I grabbed the foot of another mama (a salutation for respect) to plead,
“Give me to the police, apnar paye pori (I beg of you)”
Completely ignoring me you made sure that the video on your cell phone was going well. You said, among witnesses,
“All is well. All this will go to the Facebook.”
You have inadvertently eased the police investigation, but in the process, you have scarred my mother, my father and my whole family. I forgive you. It is the month of Ramadan.
You deprived me of water, but I hope you shower in happiness some day, the day the showers end from my mother’s cheeks.
Rajon (I am the image on your phone.)
Dear Mr. Mark Zuckerberg,
Thank you for Facebook. This platform has brought good, bad and the ugly. I wonder, (an answer I will not get), the four people who killed me, was anyhow inspired by the idea that this video will make them famous (keywords: likes, shares, comments etc.)?
If you watch the video, there’s a quote,
“Facebook e diya ditesi. Shob paa bhange nai. Aro Haddi Bhangte hoibo (Translation: I have put it on it on Facebook – all will see it. All bones are not broken, break all bones)”
It can just be correlation and not causation; but sure they inflicted fatal pain on me to get more ‘thumbs ups.’ Mob justice via Facebook is not unprecedented as you already know. Sadly, today, it is a I, a little boy.
So, even vicariously, I, the 13-year old boy Rajon, want to offer you some food for thought as to how Facebook may entertain such fiasco. Three years ago, another mob lynching video showed up on your platform and here in Bangladesh. The Salem Witch Trials are not gone yet!
Rajon (I don’t know how to use Facebook because I could not afford a phone.)
Dear Bangaladeshi Media,
You know me well by know. Sadly, you also know my father and mother. For a second, contemplate watching pictures of your child being beaten up and killed, regardless of the medium.
Almost no democracy has a ‘written code’ for journalism, thanks to the US First Amendment and also Bangladesh’s Constitutions 15th Amendment that states, “The 15th amendment to the constitution, which was passed by Parliament in July, includes language that equates criticism of the constitution with sedition.” Regardless, esteemed journalistic entities hold their own oaths and ethics and you can read the ones from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Propublica etc. It is high time, we step our game up. It does not necessarily behooves us only until it is mandated by the government.
News title of a popular daily
Some reputed Bangladeshi dailies have come up with titles such as, “Brutal!” (The Daily Star) or “Cruel, Inhumane!” (Prothom Alo) as if an animal passed away due to negligence of the zookeeper at the Dhaka Central Zoo. I cringed at the devaluation of my integrity!
News title of another popular daily
Having said that, did you blur the victim of the Boston bombing victim’s face? Do you show the faces of fallen US soldiers? In contrast, do you show dumping grounds of genocide victims, or children in Syria or Palestine? Are all men created equal? Was I, Rajon, created unequally?
Almost all the news outlets in Bangladesh printed pictures of me (unblurred), which is fine by me; after all, how do I protest? But, I was not smiling in those pictures. I was crying. I was asking for water. My ‘ma’ (mom) will see this. My mother’s name is in the papers, my father’s identification too. Conveying the truth is your job. I salute you. If there are two suicide cases soon, whose blood will those be on?
Rajon (I died at 13, and you watched on Facebook for 28 minutes.)