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Nation mourns its founding father

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leads commemoration of slain father Sheikh Mujib

People pay tribute to a portrait of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman People pay tribute to a portrait of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
  • Bangladesh
  • August 16, 2012
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The national flag flew at half-mast across the country, special prayers were held at mosques, temples and churches, and thousands of people wore black ribbons yesterday for the anniversary of the assassination of the nation's founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who died along with most of his family on this day in 1975.

Popularly called Bangabandhu - Friend of Bengal - Sheikh Mujib and 18 family members, relatives and associates were gunned down by army personnel inside his residence. His daughter, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, escaped death as she was outside the country at the time.

Mujib was one of the founders of the Awami League, the country’s largest political party which played a leading role in the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. He went on to be the first Prime Minister of newly independent Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina, along with several other dignitaries, marked the day by offering a floral wreath to the portrait of Bangabandhu at his mausoleum in Gopalganj, south of Dhaka.

Sheikh Hasina also released an official statement. “The killers of August 15 thought they would diminish the dreams and idealism of Bangabandhu by killing him, but they failed," it said.

"The descendants and collaborators of the killers are still active in the country and have continued their conspiracy against the nation. We have to resist them at any cost.”

The August 15 killings were masterminded by some of Mujib’s colleagues who allied with Islamist groups. Despite a long series of high-level political attempts to save them from going on trial, 15 of them were handed death sentences and five were hanged in 2010.

Muntasir Mamoon, an eminent Bangladesh historian and commentator, said yesterday: "By handing down punishment to the killers of Sheikh Mujib after 35 years, the nation rid itself of a historic liability. But is not free of the curse.

“By killing [Sheikh Mujib] and his associates, his political ideals were wiped away. It has led to today’s politics of confrontations in this country."

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