Country report : Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
First of all, please tell us about the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh and his contributions. What is the meaning of the title “Bangabandhu”?
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh, is one of the most iconic politicians of the world from 20th century. Often affectionately called Bangabandhu (meaning Friend of Bengal), he is one of the visionary politicians and statesmen of South Asia. Under his charismatic, pragmatic and undisputed leadership, Bangladesh became a sovereign nation in December 1971. For leading his people to the realization of the long-cherished dream of an independent country, he is also regarded as the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh.
From his boyhood, he was a kind and generous person but uncompromising on attaining the legitimate rights of the people irrespective of their class, faith, and ethnicity. To attain their rights, he fought against the autocratic Pakistani regime and led the nation in every democratic movements including All-party State Language Action Committee formed in 1948, the Language Movement in 1952, Jukta-Front Election in 1954, a movement against Martial Law in 1958, Six-Point Movement in 1966, Mass Upsurge in 1969 and the General Elections in 1970.
For his active participation in these movements, he was sent to jail several times (total of 4,682 days) and had to bear inhuman sufferings. Despite numerous challenges, he had the unique ability to rise above self and always upheld the interests of his countrymen throughout his life.
The name of our motherland “Bangladesh” was derived by our Father of the Nation from our mother language “Bangla”. “Bangladesh” means “Land of Bangla speaking people”. Thus, he shaped the national identity of Bengalis. In a 2004 BBC poll, Bangabandhu was voted the greatest Bengali of all time.
During a grand public rally of around one million people at Ramna Race Course Ground (now Suhrawardy Park) on 23 February 1969, he was conferred the title “Bangabandhu”.
What is the significance of Bangabandhu’s historic speech of 7th March 1971?
Bangabandhu came victorious (98% votes) in the general election of 1970, but the then Pakistani rulers denied to transfer the power to him.
On March 7, 1971, he addressed a huge public rally at Dhaka's Race Course Ground. In a clarion call, he urged his people to “turn every house into a fortress. Face (the enemy) with whatever…” they have, adding that “The struggle this time is the struggle for emancipation. The struggle this time is the struggle for independence”.
This 19- minute unwritten address changed the course of the history of Bangladesh. It aroused the whole nation, inspired the then 75 million unarmed Bengalis to leap into the war of liberation and fight for their freedom and emancipation. As a result, through a 9-month long bloody war killing 3-million people and violating over 200,000 women, Bangladesh became an independent country in December 1971.
This speech is now recognized as one of the most significant and finest speeches in the world. UNESCO has included this speech in the „Memory of the World International Register" on 30th October 2017 as part of its „World's Documentary Heritage".
Can you please elaborate on the ideology and dream of Bangabandhu?
Following the partition of India and creation of Pakistan based on two-nation theory, and the discrimination faced by Bengalis in East Pakistan, Bangabandhu realized that a country formed on the basis of religion alone, could not fulfill the aspirations of its people, who came from different ethnoreligious, and socio-economic backgrounds. He then started his campaign for a more inclusive political ideology embracing all faiths, incorporating human dignity and social justice, democracy, secularism and above all Bengali nationalism.
Inspired by his ideology, Bangladesh becomes a democratic, secular and progressive nation in the world. His love for humanity motivated Bangladeshis, to open their hearts and accept over 1.1 million Rohingyas, the most prosecuted people in the world.
Bangabandhu dreamt of a 'Shonar Bangla' (Golden Bengal)-meaning building a hunger- poverty- illiteracy free peace-loving and prosperous country where the common people could live in prosperity and have equitable access to all the resources of the country.
To realize his unfulfilled dream, His daughter, Sheikh Hasina, the leader of Bangladesh Awami League and Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has dedicated herself to transform Bangladesh as a middle-income country by 2021 on the 50th anniversary of the nation and a developed and prosperous country by 2041. Under her dynamic leadership, Bangladesh is going through remarkable socio-economic progress which improved the living conditions of the millions.
What you plan to achieve by celebrating his birth centenary in South Korea?
Bangabandhu dedicated himself to the cause of humanity and relentlessly supported initiatives to promote global harmony and peace. He became the voice of the oppressed and was awarded the Julio Curie Peace Prize on 23 May, 1973 for being a symbol of world peace.
Our goal is to highlight his sacrifices, his contributions in the emergence of Bangladesh and his commitments towards world peace to the greater audience in this country, especially the young generation. At the same time, we also, intend to draw their attention to the development activities of Bangladesh towards building a „Sonar Bangla" as dreamt by Bangabandhu.