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Thursday, January 24, 2019 03:44:47 PM
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Justice for Rajon

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Rashidul Bari :
It's easy to kill when you have no heart, but in my mind, mere monsters are synonymous with a hollow heart.
What I saw upon reading a message accompanied by video footage and published on the Bari Science Lab website could fit only the description of monsters - beasts. What I saw was inexplicable - inhumane. Hence, I quickly made a video film titled, "Justice for Rajon" and released it on YouTube. Within 10 hours of releasing the film, it has gone viral on YouTube, Facebook and other social media. The video shows how four beasts consistently beat a 13-year-old child with a rod.
Let's repeat that, shall we?
A 13-year-old-child - who was so poor, he had to quit school in fourth grade to help his family pick vegetables to survive - was beaten, with no mercy whatsoever, with a rod by four beasts.  Such footage is like poison - burning poison that I could not watch for too long, or else I would drown in my own tears. The four men - Kamrul Islam, Muhit Islam, Ali Haider and Moyna Mia - were colloquially speaking in Bengali and bursting into laughter every time Rajon screamed out in pain. Imagine holding your breath. Now imagine four rods hitting your chest and head. Now imagine you are 10 times weaker - as weak as a 13-year-old child who can't move because he's tied to a pole. That's how Rajon felt, and even through such pain - imagine how hard it was for him and how hard it would be for you - he was able to plead for "water, water, water." Yet the men showed him no mercy. They kept hitting him - strangling his heart 'till it could beat no more. I closed my eyes and thought to myself that this could have been Refath and Isaac, my two sons. In fact, Rajon could have been me 25 years ago.
It had been Rajon's first day of managing his father's business: selling vegetables. By the time the four beasts began the hour-long torture of Rajon, he could take it no more. I have seen men killing men many times before, yet I have never seen men laughing while videotaping the torture of a 13-year-old boy. These are stories usually reserved for the Middle East, involving ISIS, but shouldn't we be ashamed that within our own country, there are men whose hearts are so pathetically cleft that they enjoy killing a child the way one may enjoy a TV sitcom. One man was beating Rajon while the other was videotaping, and two others were laughing. No other terrorist group except ISIS uses such rapid, targeted and deliberate brutality, or are so tightly bound to the idea that a poor child has to be beaten to death and that this had to be videotaped.
When I watched that footage, I cried out loud, tears trickling from my tortured eyes.I said, "Kamrul, Muhit, Ali, Moyna, you are not human. You are beasts - beasts whose hearts are so vaulted that I wonder how you even perceive yourselves deemed worthy to be alive. I cannot imagine how you can live with yourselves knowing that you have not just killed one child - you have killed the hearts of the millions who mourn for Rajon. You have carved the inner hole out of so many hearts that I wonder - I wonder whether you wish you had a new life so you could start over. I wonder whether you cleft beasts have a heart at all. If you feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again." I have seen coffins many times before, yet I have never seen one as small as the one carried by Rajon's father, Sheikh Azizur Rahman, to the graveyard, where family members gathered to give their final goodbyes to this little angel. The hashtag Bari Science Lab created -- #JusticeforRajon - emerged as a protest against the crime, as millions around the world demand capital punishment for Rajon's four killers.
As a leader of this campaign, I think the people of Bangladesh and the whole world decided to stand up for the "Justice for Rajon" campaign because we don't want to lose another child like Rajon. That's exactly what I was thinking as I was returning home from NYU: I would proceed as though I had not seen the assault of Rajon while I make  the film "Justice for Rajon." There is no benefit in being able to recall the events that took place when four monsters killed a child. There is no benefit in being able to remember the face of 13-year-old Rajon, who looks like Refath Albert, my 12 year old son. There is no benefit in being able to remember the tiny coffins on the shoulders of Rajon's parents because the smallest coffins are the heaviest. So I tried my best to forget everything I had seen, and I thought soon I would forget everything.  I got home around 10 p.m. It all flooded back when Refath opened the door for me, and Isaac jumped on my lap. Immediately, it popped into my mind: Who will open the door for Sheikh Azizur Rahman? Some would say "who cares" - for Rahman is poor. The overwhelming response to this campaign helped me believe that people actually do care.
Let's help all the children of poor people use the momentum created by the "Justice for Rajon" campaign to accelerate poor-children emancipation, not only by executing those who killed him, but also by taking the necessary actions to wholeheartedly stop child murders.

(Rashidul Bari, a CRISP scholar from New York University, is an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at CUNY Baruch College.  His website is: www.bari-science-lab.com)

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