Centre for Research and Information (CRI) organized a webinar titled “Bangladesh 1975: Derailing the Founding Vision” on 19 August 2023. This program was a continuation of a series where CRI facilitates evidenced-based discussion centering the challenges of Bangladesh’s founding days and the implication of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the founding father and the first president of Bangladesh, in 1975. The webinar was live streamed on the social media outlets of CRI, and several media houses.
This year’s panel featured Abdunrohman Mukem, a researcher from Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; Biman Mullick, an artist and social activist, based in London; and Makhduma Nargis, a women rights activist in Bangladesh. Nadia Choudhury, human rights advocate, moderated the discussion.
The discussion covered a range of topics, including Mujib’s nation-building efforts and his political philosophy for Bangladesh. It also explored his vision of a progressive Bangladesh which was ruthlessly crushed by successive military regimes after his assassination by a coup on 15 August 1975.
“Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became a leader because of his actions, and sacrifices for people’s interest – Bengali people. His political ideas belong to his experience from the struggle for independence and peace,” said Abdunrohman Mukem, a researcher of South Asian politics, who was part of the team that translated Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s memoir from English to Thai.
“We have seen that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman traveled to many countries, what for, for making good relationships with everyone. We learn from his speech that we should not have made enemy of any country. It should have been a sin for us to join any military block. We should maintain peace in the world and see peace as imperative to ensure economic welfare of the people of a country,” he added.
Despite resource constraints, Bangabandhu was committed to building institutions, infrastructure, and human capital in critical sectors. “After liberation, Bangabandhu wanted decentralization of the health system. In that short period of three and half years, his administration worked hard to spread the health facility from urban to the semi-urban and rural areas,” said Makhduma Nargis, who is a physician, a freedom fighter and a human rights activist.
“After Bangabandhu’s assassination, the country was under Martial law in different forms. The spirits of the Liberation War and founding principles were taken away by the rulers. We didn’t see any pro-people policy approach,” she mentioned.
Biman Mullick was an activist in the campaign for Bangladesh’s independence in UK. Eventually he designed the first set of stamps of Bangladesh. He remembered through a statement, “I was watching BBC news and heard Bangabandhu was assassinated. I was totally shocked. I’m sure the whole world was shocked and horrified as well. Why would anyone kill the great leader of Bangladesh? How can that happen? I wondered.”