Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; known as Bangabandhu to his people in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (March 17, 1920August 15, 1975), born in Gopalganj, Bangladesh, was a Bengali nationalist leader in East Pakistan and the first Prime Minister and President of independent Bangladesh. His political career began almost immediately with Pakistan's independence, as co-founder of the East Pakistan Muslim Students' League and later the Awami League in the 1950s. Both these groups sought to gain greater autonomy for East Pakistan, which was dominated by West Pakistan, though the two were separated by 1,000 miles of Indian territory.

The results of December 1970 elections saw Pakistan split into its Eastern and Western halves. In East Pakistan, the Awami League held all but two of the 162 seats in the Pakistani National Assembly allocated to East Pakistan, but none in West Pakistan. In West Pakistan, the Pakistan People's Party (led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) won the most of the seats, but none in East Pakistan. This led to a situation where one of the leaders of the two parties would have to give up power and allow the other to be Prime Minister of Pakistan. The situation also increased agitation, especially in East Pakistan.

Yahya Khan, then the President of Pakistan, was unable to reach a compromise, and instead cracked down on the political agitation in East Pakistan. Martial law was declared, and a civil war erupted, with East Pakistan gaining support from India. Sheikh Mujib was arrested, but many of his supporters managed to escape to India, where they declared a provisional government for an independent in East Pakistan. By December 1971, West Pakistan troops in East finally surrendered, and the independent state of Bangladesh was declared. In January 12, 1972, Sheikh Mujib became the country's leader.

By that time, the country was in a shambles, the result of a nine-month war for independence. Sheikh Mujib attempted to remedy the situation by ruling through executive decree, Sheikh Mujib declared a state of emergency, declaring himself president and disbanding all political parties except for the newly formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) which raised a paramilitary force to annihilate anyone opposing his decisions and ideals and to keep his family in power for eternity. His popularity reached the lowest of the low. Nevertheless, change was slow in coming, and hunger and disease were rampant.

On August 15, 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and several members of his family were killed in a military coup planned by his own cabinet ministers, higher ups in the party and some disgruntled army officers. He was replaced by his former minister of commerce and of land revenue Khandekar Moshtaque Ahmed (one of the conspirators). The only survivors in his immediate family were two of his daughters, who were away in West Germany at the time. In 1996, Sheikh Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, was elected prime minister of Bangladesh.


"The struggle this time is for our freedom. The struggle this time is for our independence."

-- from a speech by Bangobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Racecourse Ground (now called Ramna Park) in Dhaka on March 7, 1971.

See also

fr:Mujibur Rahman ja:ムジブル・ラフマン nl:Mujibur Rahman


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