dhaka

Bangladesh in Positive Light

№ 20 | a little piece of history (fondly called by many the Pink Palace, Ahsan Manzil was the official residential palace of the Nawab of Dhaka. This is one of the most significant architectural monuments of Bangladesh which was built between 1859 and 1872. In its glory days Ahsan Manzil hosted many dignitaries from across the world including Lords from the British Empire. Today it is a popular destination for locals as well as visitors to the city. It is a museum worth visiting if you are in town.)

dhaka | january 2017

Copyright © Daraus M. All rights reserved

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this post is part of a special series of my original travel photos from Bangladesh. you can view other posts from this series by visiting my blog Wanderlust and use the search function, or just click here.

8

“আমার ভাইয়ের রক্তে রাঙানো একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি
আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি
ছেলেহারা শত মায়ের অশ্রু গড়ায়ে ফেব্রুয়ারি
আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি”

“My Brothers Blood Spattered 21 February
Can I forget the twenty-first of February
incarnadined by the love of my brother?
The twenty-first of February, built by the tears
of a hundred mothers robbed of their sons,
Can I ever forget it?”

A Brief History of Ekushey February, February 21st:

If you don’t know already: The British colonized the Indian subcontinent for centuries and… I am angry… but fast forward to 1947’s partition, which led to 2 nations: India, and Pakistan, which consisted of East Pakistan–Now proudly Bangladesh–and West Pakistan–which is the present Pakistan. Historically, East Pakistan was underrepresented in government and military, and underfunded during the Pakistani rule despite the fact that out of 69 million Pakistanis at the time, 44 million were Bengali-speaking and residing in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

Even though 54% of the national population spoke Bengali (Bangla) as their mother tongue, in 1948 the Pakistani government enforced an ‘Urdu Only’ law, saying that the sole official language of East (Bangladesh) and West Pakistan would be Urdu—which had been promoted as the common language of Muslims during the British Rule. This felt like an attack against the Bengali identity, one that not only aimed to establish supremacy of one people over the other but was also unrepresentative of the national population. Although sectorial violence and tensions existed before, East Pakistan began protesting for our right to speak our mother tongue, to establish our Bengali identity, to institute equal respect for Bangla. Bengali scholars, student leaders and politicians led, supported and fought alongside in the movement that began.

ON 20TH FEBRUARY, 1952, the government enforced section 144: banning all public protests and marches in Dhaka. They began imprisoning University of Dhaka’s student leaders.

ON THE 21ST OF FEBRUARY, students marched protesting ‘Rashtro bhasha Bangla chai’ or ‘We want Bangla as the official language’ and the Pakistani police opened fire, killing 4 and injuring 17. Hearing the news of the shooting, thousands of people gathered in front of Dhaka Medical College, where the injured were admitted, a state of civil unrest began. Every year from then on, Bangladeshis began to commemorate this day of mourning and organized demonstrations and protests. The next few years consisted of political unrest, imprisonment of Bengali politicians, and public demonstrations.

THE FIRST SHAHEED MINAR was built on February 22nd, 1952 in memory of the martyrs and was destroyed by the Pakistani army on February 26th. In 1957, a second minar was built in tandems and completed in 1963, but that too was violently demolished by the Pakistani army in 1971. The current Shaheed Minar was built in 1972 and stands to this day.

IN 1956, the Pakistani government ruled Bengali as an official language alongside Urdu. In 1999, the UN declared 21st February International Mother Language day. As Bangladeshi people, to this day we march for the lives lost since those days in 1952, to the 1971 genocide, until our independence. Early in the morning of every February 21st, we walk to the Shaheed Minar (pictured above) with fresh flowers in our hands and black badges on our chests. Ekushey February marked a significant day not only because of our fight for our mother tongue, but because it strengthened and became a part of the Bangladeshi identity and catalyzed events that led to the 1971 liberation war.

I am proud of my history, I am proud of my people for fighting for our language and identity under an oppressive rule. I mourn the deaths of martyrs Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabbar, and many more. 21st February 1952 was the beginning to a tale of blood, atrocities, and liberation. I am proud to be Bangladeshi. It’s time to acknowledge Bangladesh’s liberation and the 1971 genocide. 

[I hope at least some of you read this and learned a little bit more about my country and of course feel free to add to this. Images are off google and I used my old Bangla textbooks and Wikipedia for specific dates.]