SPECIAL: Intellectual Martyr’s Day@50

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50th  Anniversary of Intellectual Martyr’s Day observed to remember the barbaric horrors inflicted by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators … reports Dr Sakariya Kareem

On the occasion of the Intellectual Martyr’s Day or Black Day in the history of Bangladesh, different political, social, cultural and prominent groups recalled with horror and shame, the systemic and targeted genocide by the Pakistan Army of the best and brightest minds of Bangladesh.

It was on December 14, fifty years ago, the Killer Pak Army carried out merciless killing of Bangladesh’s brightest sons and daughters in order to destroy the intellectual backbone of the new nation.  The blue print of crippling the intelligentsia is known to have been chalked out by a body of at least 10 persons headed by Major General Rao Farman Ali, the military advisor to the government of East Pakistan.

In the memory of the martyred intellectuals, various NGOs, Universities, Ulemas and Imams came together to mark the occasion of December 14th, which is mourned in Bangladesh as Shaheed Buddhijibi Dibash (Martyred Intellectual Day). A series of events were witnessed across Bangladesh:

In Dhaka, a group of approximately 1,000 students/youths of Mukti Joddah Manch organized discussion meetings and documentary presentation on genocide of intellectuals by Pak Army on a multimedia projector at Shahbag in the evening. A Street Drama on genocide of martyred intellectuals by Pak Forces was also organized at Shahbag presented by Dhaka University Drama Society followed by a candle light vigil to remember martyred intellectuals in front of Eternal Monument in VC Chattar, Dhaka University. Separately, a Street Play performance by artists of Shilpakala Academy in front of National Press Club under the banner of Open dialogue Bangladesh highlighted the atrocities by Pak Forces was also witnessed by many.

To bring awareness among the younger generation and to highlight the Pak army’s role in 1971, a series of slide shows showing killing of the Martyrs in the hands of Pak army were run at digital display boards at prominent public intersections in Gulshan-1 and Dhanmondi. The slide shows highlighted the systemic killings indulged by the Pak army and called for justice against the perpetrators of this genocide.

In Khulna, volunteers of Bangladesh Social Activist Forum held a rally of 100 people which included 50 bikers.  Similar programmes were held in Rajshahi, Benapole, Satkhira and Patuakhali under the banner.  Scores of people were seen participating in these programmes.  Elsewhere in Magura a human chain rally was organized which was attended by about 100  people holding banners and posters depicting photographs of martyrs.  The participants were wearing specially designed T-shirts and caps.

In Sylhet, a rally & discussion program was organized by Sylhet Shwadhinota Forum, a platform of civil society members at Central Shahid Minar, Sylhet. The event was presided over by Mohammad Abdullah Al Helal, President of the organization. The participants were  holding banners and posters against the heinous act and irreparable damage done by Pakistan in 1971. Around 300 people were present in the program.

In Chittagong, a rally was organized by Jongibad Pratirodh Andolan Bangladesh (JPAB) followed by human chain program in Chittagong demanding trial of Pakistan army officers in absentia who were involved in killing intellectuals on 14th December, 1971 as well as state apology for the genocide in 1971. At the end of the rally human chain program was started which was attended by more than 150 activists of JPAB and local people.

This year also witnessed a unique signature campaign by Public Universities of Jashore, Khulna and Mymensingh under different student body groups to impress upon the need for international recognition of Genocide and trying Pak army in absentia. Noted academicians and young students came out in out in hundreds to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims of the families and shamed Pak army and their collaborators for their heinous crimes. Ali Hossen Moni, freedom fighter and Mujib Bahini chief led the signature campaign along with DC, SP and Mayor of Jessore. Prof Md Jalal Uddin Vice Chancellor Kobi Nazrul University in Dhaka, Prof Sharif Atiquzzaman , Assoc Prof Shankar Mallick and Premananda Mandal were seen at Govt Brajlal College Khulna leading the signature campaign. They also pledged to fight against what they called communalism and fundamentalism by various anti-Liberation fronts. Separately, various discussion meeting and Human Chains were organized in different districts.

36 Universities all over Bangladesh also organised the protest/demonstrations against Pak atrocities under the banner of ‘One Bangladesh’. They also held a candle light vigil.  Various programmes highlighted that Bangladesh which is still reeling from the loss of martyred intellectuals is determined to eliminate fundamentalism and terrorism from its soil as it completes 50 years of its independence. Speakers at different programmes including by Sector Commanders Forum emphasized that time is ripe for International recognition of Genocide and trial of Pakistan army personnel in absentia, for their heinous and barbaric crimes on the Bangali population to suppress their desire for a free and secular Bangladesh.

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