On March 16, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed a declaration making East Pakistan the sovereign and independent country of Bangladesh.
It sparked the nine-month long Bangladesh Liberation War, which claimed the lives of up to three million people and with hundreds of thousands of women raped. Although the casualty figures are disputed, millions were displaced.
The struggle for Bengali rights started shortly after Pakistan gained independence as a country with two in contiguous territories known as West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) and East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh).
The refusal to accept Bengali as a state language of Pakistan in the early years after Partition, economic disparity between the two parts, the hegemony of the West Pakistani ruling elite over Pakistan, martial laws, and a demeaning attitude toward Bengali culture and the Bengali population soured relations between the two parts.
After a nine month war on Dec. 16, 1971, Bangladesh became independent. It is a memorable history for the nation.
In his message for the occasion, Pope Francis admired the country's unique natural beauty. He also lauded the country' struggle to be united in one language and culture that respect different traditions.
He said it is one of the legacies of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the people of Bangladesh.
The Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was a man of incredible courage who stood for equality, dignity, and justice.
Bangabandhu’s love and devotion for the country was always a priority, and his ultimate vision was always to transform the nation he called home, Bangladesh, into Sonar Bangla, where every citizen would lead a life of dignity, respect, and fulfilment.
Bangladesh became independent because of Bangabandhu's sacrifice. He called for a war of liberation, and under his leadership the country became independent.
In the past 50 years, Bangladesh has come a long way in terms of development in economics, culture, education, among others.
There are still some sectors that face challenges, especially some minority groups that continye to struggle for their rights and for their land.
As we celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence, let us try to build unity, love and peace among the people of our country. - Nikhil Gomez / RVA News