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Thought-provoking Bangladesh identity project draws to a close

21 April 2021

A groundbreaking Commonwealth project discovering what it means to be Bangladeshi has delivered its latest instalment via a live webinar.

Sense of belonging 

Since the launch of the Amader Porichoy (Our Identity) initiative in November 2019, the project has been on a quest to understand the relationship among young people, their national identity and what it means to be a global citizen. It has engaged over 600 people in universities and community settings in Bangladesh.

Through various screenings of Shongram - a film made by British Bangladeshi filmmaker Munsur Ali about the liberation of Bangladesh - the project has started conversations with young people by encouraging them to explore and articulate their sense of belonging to Bangladesh, during the country’s 50-year celebration of independence.

Promoting peace

The programme is a collaboration between the Commonwealth’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) unit and Munsur’s production company Moringa Entertainment. It examines the importance of identity in promoting peace and resilience to extremism.

Munsur Ali said: “It was an amazing opportunity to utilise my film as a tool to explore how young people in Bangladesh perceive themselves, their history, and also how they wish to be perceived in the future. Thanks to the Amader Porichoy programme we were able to get a refreshing look at the diverse opinions of young Bangladeshis.”

Over the past eighteen months, the Amader Porichoy project has hosted a series of events at Bangladesh universities and community hubs culminating with a virtual seminar in March. The final event, which will include a film screening, is scheduled for July 2021.

Understanding of identity

Assan Ali from the CVE at the Commonwealth Secretariat said:

‘This project has been an insightful journey through Bangladesh with very rich discussions on identity and extremism in the context of the independence of Bangladesh. Knowing your history helps you to understand your identity and the young people engaged spoke to their understanding of their identity, contrasted with their parents understanding. As someone with Bengali heritage, this journey has been thought provoking and has left me inspired by the young generation in Bangladesh.

Speaking on behalf of the Bangladesh government, which has supported the project since its launch, Dr Muntasir Mamun, director International Trade, Investment and Technology said:

“The War of 1971 was a national level contest of identities. Between an identity of peace, prosperity, secularism and inclusivity vis-à-vis an identity of oppression, seclusion, hatred, and ignorance. We may have won the war at a tremendous human cost - but the contest is on, and Amader Porichoy has successfully opened up a much-needed discourse on the evolution of an often-overlooked part of this quest-, which includes the diaspora.