Human Rights Awareness (HRA) Unit
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)’s primary strategy is to create awareness and mobilise public action on a range of legal and human rights issues. ASK seeks to promote a culture of tolerance for political and cultural diversity, and demand that governance be guided by social justice and human rights in the community as well as by the State.
The Human Rights Awareness (HRA) Unit uses “action theatre” (popular theatre) to disseminate information and sensitise school students, young cultural activists to human rights and gender equality so that they can independently promote human rights and prevent abuse of human rights in their area. School and college students and local cultural activists are trained in action theatre methodology. Their public performances lead to discussions on human rights.
The Unit started its activities in 1998 and the name of the unit was “Popular Theatre” which was changed to Human Rights Awareness (HRA) Unit in 2007.
Gaibandha, Joypurhat, Sirajgonj, Naogaon, Pabna, Kuistia, Jhenaidha, Tangail, Gazipur, Mymensing, Netrokona, Kishoregonj and Dhaka are the working areas of HRA unit. It works only in Sadar upazila of these districts.
- 60 voluntary groups known as Manobadhikar Nattya Parishads (MNPs) are formed and trained by the Unit on human rights, gender issues and theatre skills. These groups then organise community level action theatres on specific local incidents of human rights violations in order to facilitate local action and response. The MNPs carry on the greater awareness raising initiatives on HR, Gender and secularism through performing issue based drama, celebrating significant days, organising theatre festivals, protest rallies, public discussions, etc. The activities of MNPs are coordinated and monitored through monthly union and upazila level meeting, and a quarterly meeting of MNP central committee. ASK representatives provide necessary suggestions and guidance to the MNPs through these meetings. A national theatre festival is held in Dhaka annually, at which MNPs perform dramas about human rights.
- 52 school theatre groups known as Biddalaya Nattya Dal (BNAD) are formed in 52 secondary schools with 25 to 30 students from class 7 to 9 in 13 districts of Bangladesh including Dhaka. The members of the groups perform dramas, publish wall magazines, participate in debates and cultural competitions; they also commemorate days of national and international significance, and attend workshops and study circles in schools. One Guide Teacher (GT) is selected by the Headmaster in each school to supervise the work of the BNAD along with a Theatre Activists (TA) from ASK. The Head Teacher is the chief advisor of the group.
- The students of theatre departments of 2 public universities have trained up on HR through a TOT course and provided with short term internship with ASK so that they can conduct 5 to 10 workshops for BNADs in a year to develop the quality of the dramas on HR and Gender issues.
- Each year a national wall magazine festival is arranged in collaboration with Bangladesh Deyal Patrika Parishad (Bangladesh Wall Magazine Council) to encourage creative talent among the youth. The magazines focus on local culture and traditions, history and liberation war etc.
Relevant Links from old website:
- Three Day Human Rights Theatre Festival | 14-16 March 2013 | – available at http://www.askbd.org/web/?p=2364
- Wall Magazine Festival Launch | 16-18 January 2012 | Bangla Academy – available at http://www.askbd.org/web/?p=2213
- Performance Evaluation Award 2010 – available at http://www.askbd.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Report_PEA.pdf
- Wall Magazine Festival 2010 – available at http://www.askbd.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Web-WallMag-10.pdf
- Human Rights Theatre Festival 2010 – available at http://www.askbd.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Web-HRTF-10.pdf