Friday, March 26, 2010

Oregon National Guard's State Partner Bangladesh celebrates their Independence Day

During the recent State Partnership Program Workshop held in Portland, senior members of the Oregon National Guard, State Department, and National Guard Bureau hosted senior civilian and military officials from Bangladesh.

The meeting was hailed as a success by all participants, and made numerous inroads to a partnership which will help develop both Oregon and Bangladesh in the areas of cultural understanding, military and civilian empowerment, business ecumen, and academic standing.

Several speakers at the workshop highlighted the value placed on independence and self-determination by both Oregonians and Bangladeshis alike. Moreover, the Bangladeshi's fight for independence from an oppresive regime during the late 1960s, including a bloody fight to establish the independent nation of Bangladesh, is something all Americans can appreciate.
As Bangladesh celebrates 39 years of independence, and a new-found partnership with Oregon, I thought it fit to highlight the events which brought Bangladesh to the doorstep of their brand new nation almost four decades ago. For more history on their fight for independence, visit the New World Encyclopdia online, at this link.

Following nine months of intense fighting with Pakistan over cultural and relgious differences, and economic persecution, East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh), asserted its independence and right to self-determination.

On March 26, 1971, the following declaration of independence for the People's Republic of Bangladesh was read over the radio:

"Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between EPR and police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. THe Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May God aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla."

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who won a landslide victory in the National Assembly election in 1970 became their default leader. He immediately lifted martial law, withdrew all military personnel to their barracks, launched an inquiry into the loss of life, and transferred power to the elected officials prior to the assembly meeting on March. 25.

Close to midnight on March 26, 1971, another broadcast was made, this time by Maj. Ziaur Rahman, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:

"I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangobondhu Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent People's Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our Motherland. By the grace of Allah, victory is ours. Joy Bangla."

An interesting side-note to these broadcasts: The Kalurghat Radio Station's transmission was limited. These messages were picked up by a Japanese ship in the Bay of Bengal, and re-transmitted to Radio Australia, and then rebroadcasted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

It then came to pass that March 26 is considered the official Independence Day for the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

Please join our partners in Bangladesh in celebrating their independence today.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

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