He sang for freedom and fought bigotry

Liberation War Museum trustee Ziauddin Tariq Ali, a freedom fighter and social activist, died from Covid-19 yesterday. He was 75.

Tariq breathed his last around 11:00am yesterday, said Sarwar Ali, a fellow trustee of the museum.

He had been admitted to Bangladesh Specialised Hospital in the capital around a week ago.

Tariq was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals Graveyard in Mirpur following a namaz-e-janaza after the Asr prayer.

He left behind his wife, a son and a daughter, and a host of relatives and well-wishers to mourn his death.

Before burial, his body was taken to the Liberation War Museum premises where people from all walks of life paid tributes to him.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ministers, and distinguished personalities, expressed deep shock and sorrow at the demise of Tariq.

In her message, the PM recalled the contribution of valiant freedom fighter Tariq in upholding the spirit of the Liberation War.

His compatriots said he relentlessly upheld the spirit of the liberation war and democracy and worked for establishing the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.

In 1994, Tariq Ali, along with several other freedom fighters, decided to set up a museum on the Liberation War.

The Liberation War Museum opened in 1996 in Dhaka’s Segunbagicha. He later coordinated the relocation of the museum to the Agargaon area.

Over the years, Tariq and others developed an impressive collection of documents, official letters, and photographs relating to the war.

In a write-up for The Daily Star, Tariq mentioned, “The museum has played a very important role in the trial of those charged with crimes against humanity by the International Crimes Tribunal, 1973 by providing documents related to the war.”

During the Liberation War, as a member of a cultural troupe, Bangladesh Mukti Shangrami Shilpi Shangstha, Tariq used to travel to refugee camps and different parts of free areas, performing patriotic songs to inspire freedom fighters and people with the spirit of war, said Sarwar.

“He [Tariq] was the main character of ‘Muktir Gaan’,” Sarwar said.

“Muktir Gaan” is an acclaimed feature-length documentary film on the Liberation War, directed by the late Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud.

Tariq,  an engineer by profession, was devoted to music. He was a student of Bulbul Lailitakala Academy. He was also an executive committee member of Chhayanut and Rabindra Sangeet Sammilon Parishad, said Sarwar.

Mofidul Hoque, another trustee of Liberation War Museum , said, Tariq fought the Liberation War through his music.

“Tariq Ali was a champion activist for making Bangladesh a non-communal and Liberation War-spirited country. He relentlessly worked towards making Bangladesh a non-communal country. It was his lifelong passion and commitment,” he said.

Tariq, a pivotal figure in Sammilito Samajik Andolan in 1997, was made president of the organisation in 2018.

Sammilito Samajik Andolan General Secretary Saleh Ahmed said, he was a “towering figure” and that with his death, the country lost an open-minded and humble social and cultural activist.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, among others, expressed deep shock at the demise of Tariq.


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