Bangladesh Consulate General in Istanbul organised an academic discussion on ‘Importance of History in Solidifying Partnership: Reference to Bangladesh – Turkey Bilateral Relations’ on the occasion of the 48thVictory Day of Bangladesh on 12 December 2018 at Uskudar University with the participation of as many as 200 students. Presided by the Bangladesh Consul General Dr. Mohammad Monirul Islam, the session was addressed by Rector of Uskudar University Prof. Dr. Nevzat Tarhan, Dean of the Faculty of Humaniteis and Social Science of Uskudar University Prof. Dr. Deniz Ulke Aribogan, eminent journalist Mr. Ahmet Coskunaydin, cultural personality Dr. Arzu Ciftsuren, prominent media personality Celal Toprak and. A number of academicians, think tanks and media representatives were also present at the event.
In his remarks, Consul General Dr. Mohammad Monirul Islam briefed historical connections between Bangladesh and Turkey which played an instrumental role in cementing bond of friendship between the two countries. He also expressed with the view that people to people connectivity, particularly relations among the academicians and researchers between the two countries need to be further strengthened and expanded to inject more dynamism and vibrancy into this particular bilateral cooperation.
Journalist Ahmet Coskunaydin and media personality Celal Toprak shared experiences of their recent visit to Bangladesh and highlighted the spectacular socio-economic developments of Bangladesh. Cultural personality Dr. Arzu Ciftsuren spoke on the cultural ties between Bangladesh and Turkey as well as narrated famous Bangla poetry ‘Kemal Pasha’ composed by the national poet of Bangladesh, Kazi Nazrul Islam. Rector of the University Prof. Dr. Nevzat Tarhan stressed, in his concluding remarks, on role and contribution of teachers, researchers and students for a more meaningful and successful bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Turkey. He also displayed interests in opening a centre in his University for in-depth research of the South Asian history particularly, Bangladesh – Turkey historical roots. In her welcome speech, Prof. Dr. Deniz Ulke Aribogan thanked the Consulate for organising such program, expressing optimism that this would further enhance the understanding and connectivity between the peoples of Bangladesh and Turkey, especially the young generations of the two countries.
The Glorious Tale of Winning Victory
The 16 of December in 1971 was the new sun of freedom to the Bangalis. On this day at the Race-course maidan the defeated Pakistani army surrendered to the allied forces. The heroic Bangalis had taken up arms uttering the brave words "The struggle this time is the struggle for freedom". After a battle of long nine months 16 December was the last day of the Bangalis’ war of independence. The free and sovereign state of Bangladesh emerged in the world map on that day. The national anthem of Bangladesh “My Golden Bengal, I love you” was then sung. The flag of the independent Bangladesh was hoisted in recognition of sovereignty. This day has been flying for the last 46 years declaring the existence of an independent country.
Bangabandhu’s return to his own country from the Pakistani prison on 10 January, 1972 was another dimension of attaining freedom. After his return he took the responsibility of the country. In his speech at Rajshahi Madrasha Maidan on 9 May 1972, Bangabandhu said, “My brothers and sisters, we have got independence today but at the cost of a big sacrifice. No country or nation has ever shed so much blood as the people of my country have. People today are suffering from starvation in every house in every village. The oppressors have totally damaged our roads and streets. They have destroyed the store-houses of rice. My government employees have been shot dead. The members of my police, BDR and military forces have been shot dead. They have also killed my students, my youths, my peasants, my intellectuals and my journalists. ... What do I want? I want my people to eat their fill. What do I want? My unemployed people of Bengal should have employment. What do I want? I want my people to be happy. What do I want? The people of my Bengal should have a pleasant time. What do I want? I want that the people of my golden Bengal should again wear a hearty smile on their faces. But it is a matter of great regret that the oppressors have left nothing for us. They have even burnt all our paper money. They have destroyed all foreign currencies. Believe me, when I came and formed government I did not find even a single farthing of foreign currency”.
Such was the situation after the achievement of freedom. Bangladesh’s victory in such a situation has spread glory all over the world. The 48th victory day is a day of achieving worldwide glory for Bangladesh. The Bangalis have not confined their victory day to one day only. In the multidimensional spheres of victory, Bangladesh’s various achievements are manifest in today’s world.
In 1913 the Bangla poet Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for his poem “Gitanjali” (Song Offerings). Bangla as a language then achieved the international prestige. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made his speech in Bangla on 25 September 1974 at the General Assembly of the United Nations. On that day he raised Bangla to a prestigious position before the whole world. In the post-independence period this glorious achievement was a cultural victory for the Bangalis. Side by side, in the existence of the national spirit this victory was the dream for touching the horizon. Whenever Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended any session of the United Nations she delivered her speech in Bangla. Bangla has not yet been an official language of the United Nations. Keeping that in mind the Prime Minister has upheld the prestige of Bangla. This is the brave determination of leadership. This is the promise for not restricting the victory day to one day. In this way, our achievement of victory is spreading worldwide.
The Prime Minister said in her speech, “We have taken the initiative of recognizing the Bangla language of the 250 millions of people of the world as one of the official languages of the United Nations. We have placed the demand at the UN General Assembly. Today the ‘International Mother Language Day’ is the source of inspiration for establishing the right to truth and justice for all the citizens of the whole world”. In this way the multifarious dimension of the victory will one day reach the height of the Himalayan Peak. The coming generations will learn that in the question of the country’s prestige there should not be any compromise. The country and the national spirit are the fundamental truths of our survival.
In his speech at the United Nations Bangabandhu further said, “Millions of our people have made supreme sacrifices for the great ideal which has been preserved in the UN charter. The Bangalis are fully pledge-bound for the establishment of a world in which all people’s hopes and aspirations can be fulfilled for ensuring peace and justice”. In the Rohigya Refugee issue, today’s Bangladesh is a country that can establish peace and justice in the spirit of humanity. This is also a big achievement of victory.
Another achievement of victory was attained in 1999 when UNESCO announced our 21 February as the “International Mother Language Day”. The glory that the Bangalis achieved by sacrificing their lives for the sake of their mother tongue reached all the people of the world through this declaration of the UNESCO. The achievement of this victory started on 9 January 1998. On that day the heroic freedom fighter Rafiqual Islam who was living in Vancouver, Canada as an immigrant wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requesting him to announce the Bangalis’ martyrdom day as the international Mother-Language Day. The United Nations informed that the matter was under the jurisdiction of the UNESCO. The appeal should be made there. Following the rules and procedures Rafiqul Islam sent the letter of application there. UNESCO suggested that the proposal should come from the government of Bangladesh. In the meantime quite a long time had elapsed. Bangladesh government had only two days’ time to send the proposal. Under this circumstance Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina achieved a far-fetched victory by taking a far-sighted decision. She asked the concerned officials of the secretariat to send the necessary documents quickly to the UNESCO. She would complete the file formalities later.
It was an extraordinary decision in the achievement of glory. The proposal for the ‘International Mother Language Day’ would not have been raised later if it had not been placed at that meeting of the UNESCO general conference. This proposal for the Mother Language Day was passed in the presence of the delegates from 188 countries on 17 November 1999. This message of the glory of the mother tongue reached the people all over the world. Bangladesh has been proud of the glory. The 1971 victory day has still been achieving the glory of victory. In this respect, another day is also very remarkable. Different cities in Canada like Toronto in Ontario, Surrey in British Columbia, Vancouver, Richmond and many others have been publicly observing the International Mother-Language Day since 2007. The federal Parliament of Australia accepted the proposal of celebrating the day publicly. Bangladesh is a life-sacrificing country for the sake of mother tongue. Many mother languages of ethnic communities are becoming extinct in the world. Our red and green flag is now flying with a light of hope before all countries of the world.
Bangabandhu’s 7th March speech is another important dimension of the glorious achievement of victory. The verses of this speech will be articulated in the question of rights of innumerable people of the world. The UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova declared at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 30 October 2017 that Bangabandhu’s 7th March historic speech had been recognized as “The World’s Documentary Heritage” in the “International Memory of the world Register”. UNESCO is the United Nations’ Organization of Education, Science and Culture. This recognition of UNESCO has created an opportunity of its being spread among the people of the world for a long time. The Bangalis have achieved the documentary world heritage through UNESCO and this heritage inspires the human race to go forward. Inspiration protects human rights through protests. There is no denying that this 7th March speech on the multi-dimensional aspect of the Bangalis’ victory day is a tale of glory.
Bangabandhu started his speech addressing the people as ‘my brethren’. Through this speech recognized by UNESCO, Bangabandhu’s loud voice will be reverberated all over the world. He addressed all the people of the world as ‘my brethren”. The 15 members of the advisory committee of UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” programme deeply observed the historical documents of the various countries of the world for two years and their decision on Bangabandhu’s speech opened the door of the Bangalis before the world community. The people of the world will remember Bangabandhu’s speech exactly as they remember Abraham Lincoln’s words “For the people, by the people, of the people” in connection with the spirit of democratic values. People’s protests become stronger by virtue of the immortal speech of their leader. Bangladesh too has had the same experience.
British historian Jacob F. Field edited a book entitled We Shall Fight on the Beaches– The Speeches that Inspired History. The book was published from London in 2013. Bangabandhu’s speech entitled “The struggle This Time is the Struggle for Independence” was included in this book. The book in English has reached innumerable people of the world.
A total of 162 corridors were created in West Bengal of India and the then East Pakistan in 1947 after the partition. Among them there were 111 corridors of India in the region of East Pakistan. And there were 51 corridors of East Pakistan in the region of India. The inhabitants of the corridors lived a sort of imprisoned life. As the border was protected by another country, these people had no easy provision for them to go out of their corridors. They have lived a life of deprivation. They were deprived of education, health and other facilities. The corridor people had no franchise either. They spent long years of indescribable sorrows and sufferings. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi signed the Mujib-Indira agreement in Delhi on 16 May 1974. A long time has passed since then. 68 years had passed since 1947. But the corridor people had no experience of their social, cultural and economic emancipation. At long last in 2015 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the initiative for implementing that agreement. She is an enlightened leader of humanitarian spirit representing the common people. She evaluates the easy truth of people’s survival. She finds the path to solution. Consequently, the imprisoned life of the corridor people came to an end after 68 years of the partition. This was a great achievement of victory in favour of humanity.
The victory of the sea is another big achievement for Bangladesh. The long conflict that existed between Bangladesh and Myanmar about the sea boundary was settled on
14 March 2012 at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). According to analysts, this is a historic milestone. The people of the world will also witness the example of the glorious achievement of the Bangabandhu Satellite. There are also other achievements recorded in the 47-year history of Bangladesh. We also respect the mother languages of our ethnic communities by recognizing them. Let the glory of victory triumph. Let the countrymen triumph. The red and green flag will be flying in the map of Bangladesh. This flag is flown by the Bangladesh cricket team in different countries. It is also flown by the football and cricket playing girls. Let the victory day this year be celebrated with an eye to this bright light. Let our young generation come forward wearing the crown of victory on their heads.