More than 1600 people gathered at Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel just before midnight on Wednesday 20 February, in commemoration of four martyrs who lost their lives during a campaign for Bangla to be recognised as one of the state languages of Bangladesh.
Tower Hamlets Council in partnership with Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee (KSMC) organised the special service in memory of the four students who were killed in 1952.
Known as International Mother Language Day, the annual event held on 21 February each year, also promotes cultural and linguistic diversity.
At one stroke past midnight, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, the High Commissioner for Bangladesh in the UK (pictured), the Speaker of the Council and the Council’s Chief Executive were the first to place wreaths on the Martyrs’ Monument known as the Shaheed Minar, on behalf of the community.
Members of the voluntary group Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee, councillors and community leaders from cultural organisations also paid their respects by laying wreaths at the monument.
Residents gathered holding wreaths, festoons and banners in tribute. They also paid their respects by laying flowers and wreaths at the monument.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Tower Hamlets is proud to be home to residents from so many diverse backgrounds and cultures.Martyrs’ Day reminds us of the sacrifice made by the brave people who fought for justice.”
Councillor Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit added: Languages are an important part of our society’s culture. It was great to see so many people come together to commemorate this internationally recognised day.”