Mukto-Mona and the Road to a Humanist Future
Mukto-mona Advisory Team
Published on August 26, 2005
As a pioneering Internet based forum for members of the South Asian community who were interested in freethought, rationalism, matters of religion and secularism and human rights, Mukto-Mona started with the intention of debating issues critical to this region in the year 2000. It has been no small measure of support from our members that has helped Mukto-Mona go far beyond its Internet-based existence into society in Bangladesh to get our hands dirty working in the field. In addition to getting involved in Bangladesh, we have also been working closely with different International Humanist organizations around the world. Our advisory committee member Alan Levin declared in the Atheist Alliance International Convention in Los Angeles in January 2005 that Mukto-Mona had become the fourth most visited secular website on the Internet thanks to your active participation here. With your continued support, we would like to move further ahead.
Bangladesh is arguably one of the poorest countries in South Asia and with problems of poverty, growing religious fundamentalism, flawed system of education, healthcare and the very poor status of women. We decided to contribute in creating awareness in Bangladeshi society through different measures. MM's 1st project, reconstruction of a primary school in remote Roumari area in Bangladesh, turned out to be much bigger than just a flood rehabilitation program. After rebuilding their school building, we have promised to help them to establish their school for few more years with the commitment that they would promote a secular curriculum to the students.
Our collaboration with the Shikkha Andolon Moncho to promote field work in Bangladesh has manifested itself in publicizing scientific and secular awareness by celebrating Einstein's centenary, awareness of Bruno's martyrdom, and seminars and reviews of secular books among several projects. Year long seminars and activities to propagate secular thought are in progress along with the Moncho.
The first publication of Alo Hate Adharer Jatri written by MM's founding moderator, Avijit Roy, a book in Bangla on the origins of the universe, which has been extremely well received among general readers and the intellectual community of Bangladesh. Renowned Bangladeshi intellectuals and scientists, such as, Dr. Kabir Chowdhury, Dr. Anisuzzaman, Dr. Harun Ar Rashid, Dr. Hironmoy Sen Gupta and Dr. Ajoy Roy were among those who attended the book release [Prokashona Utshab]. The book is in its second reprint in a few months. This was the first publication effort from MM and it has been a great success story for all of us. We also have an understanding with the publisher, one of the most respected in Bangladesh, that we would supply more books on secular and scientific topics. There has also been considerable interaction with the media in Bangladesh with several newspapers and weekly magazines regularly publishing articles sent through Mukto-Mona. The prize in this area has been the permission given to Mukto-Mona to translate articles by scientists like Dr. Mark Perakh, Dr. Tim Berra and Dr. Victor Stenger into Bangla and publish them on our website. We also work closely with several Secular, Humanist and Scientific forums like, Talk Reason, etc, which promote cutting edge discoveries and awareness discussed by well known scientists in their area.
Our advisory committee member Dr. Ajoy Roy has been actively protesting all kinds of minority and human rights violations through national and International platforms including MM. There have been noteworthy acknowledgements of Mukto Mona's achievements - Prof Ajoy Roy participated along with journalist Shahriar Kabir in a discussion on fundamentalism in the British Parliament on invitation. We worked on several other projects last year including supporting the Humayun Azad Foundation and helping secular journalists with medical treatment. And in a very different sense, Mukto-Mona was "acknowledged" by the government of the UAE which decided to ban the organization and block it's website. We are unaware if any discussion group has been banned by a fundamentalist government anywhere in the world. Being banned by such government, is, to every one of us, a badge of honor.
In all of our efforts, we have been supported actively by secular organizations around the world. We would have to acknowledge the Atheist Alliance International, the largest umbrella body of humanist and secular organizations in the world, the Center for Inquiry, an organization with a towering presence in the world of reason, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations with whom we have the same arrangement over publications that we have with the scientists whose names we mentioned above and the Indian Rationalist Association. The International Humanist and Ethical Union has also provided continuous encouragement and support from its side. Among individual writers we have a list of authors that is long and highly respectable but Prabir Ghosh and his organization SRAI merit a special mention for their association with Mukto Mona which has always been supportive and encouraging.
In the future, we plan on starting our own publishing house and are always open to ideas and suggestions from you, our members. If Mukto-Mona has become the fourth most visited secular website on the Internet, it is only due to your active participation here. We would like to have your views on what should be done both by way of focus areas in articles etc. as well as in fieldwork. And we hope to continue receiving your encouragement and support in the years ahead. Thank you for making this effort a success.
Recent celebration and activities of 2006: