What February 21st Means for Bangladeshis


Today Bangladeshis stop to remember one of the most emotional and important dates in our country’s history. On this day in 1952, after the “Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan” announced that Urdu would be the only state language of East and West Pakistan, a huge wave of protests erupted in Bangladesh, where the majority spoke Bengali.

Politicians joined students in their demonstrations, and the Pakistani Government responded by violently cracking down on the protesters. Over the course of one week, between February 21st-27th, 1952, they killed student demonstrators, some right in front of Dhaka Medical College.

Shaheed Minar is the monument which is dedicated to Bangladesh’s language martyrs, and it has become “an icon of the Bengalis’ pride in their culture and history, and of their resistance against imposition of all things foreign.”

On February 29th, 1956, Pakistan added Bengali as the second official state language after Urdu. Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan in 1971.

As protests continue to rage across the Middle East and North Africa, we should think about all the people who have given their lives in the past, and who are willing to die today for what they believe in. It is a testament to the universal desire to be free that we all share.

10 thoughts on “What February 21st Means for Bangladeshis”

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  5. Raja Nowsherwan Kiani

    Being a Pakistani I was always thinking why Pakistan retreated in 1971 war but now after knowing the whole scenario i say the incident could had happened earlier. Feel pity to say that the Pakistanis very soon after the independence in 1947 forgot the Shares of Bengalis in independence struggle and formation of Muslim league.. but what happened later in 1971 was not any unexpected thing in light of Pak-Policies. This was the right of Bengalis and they got it what they fought for.

  6. Raja Nowsherwan Kiani

    Being a Pakistani i was thinking why Army surrendered in 1971 war. But now i must say it was Pakistan who very soon after the 1947 forgot the shares of Bengalis in struggles of the Independence movement prior to date and creation of Muslim league as well. it was equal right of Bangladeshi to get what they wanted. But the fact is there were so cultural, ethnic and territorial differences which triggered the dispute as well. so at the end i must say ib Bengalis 1971 Got that what fought and struggled for.

  7. as a Pakistani i must say that i m sad about what happened in 1952 but what are the proofs and second i really felt sad after reading that Bangladesh get its independence from Pakistan .. we students never read any where in our books and even didn’t heard from our elders that Bangladesh was a slave country for Pakistan.. so how can u say it got its independence both were part of the same country and the devision done for just one name that was MUSLIMS …. really sad

    1. I suggest you read some history books, preferably not written in Pakistan. Many Turks grow up not hearing of the Armenian genocide. Human beings do their best to erase history, but it lives because ultimately the truth cannot be denied.

      1. Thank you! Do You know that Anushay means “sweet Armenian” in armenian language? 😀

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