West Pakistan did not accept the 1970 election results (in which the Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won), leading to escalating protests in East Pakistan. On 7 March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur held a speech, reported on in source 4.
Pakistan situation report from the British government – up to 0930 hours on 8 March 1971. Catalogue ref: PREM 15/567
(Up to 0930 hours on 8 March)
We now have a fuller account of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s speech in Dacca on 7 March. We still do not have a text. But it is clear that Mujib has set 5 conditions for his participation in the Assembly Meeting proposed by President Yahya Khan for 25 March. The conditions are:
- Withdrawal of all troops to barracks
- No further firing on civilians’
- No further military reinforcement from West Pakistan;
- No military interference in the working of Bangla Desh Government;
- Maintenance of law and order to be left exclusively to the Police and Bengali Rifles (East Pakistanis) (A press report mentions also assistance by Awami League Volunteers).
- Mujib also named an enquiry into “murders” committed in the past week by the military forces. He said his immediate goal was termination of marshall law [military rule] and the transfer of power to elected representatives. Meanwhile the non-violent, non-co-operation movement must continue. In the coming week this would entail:
- No payment of taxes
- Government offices and Courts to remain closed
- Rail and port workers to cease work if they are used for mobilising forces of repression
- Bengali “radio television, newspapers” not to co-operate in suppressing news of People’s Movement
- Telephone to work only for calls within East Pakistan
- Banks to make no remittances within West Pakistan
- All buildings to hoist black flags daily and
- Further Hartal to be declared at any moment depending on the situation
- Liberation Committees to be formed in every village under local Awami League leaders.
« Return to The Independence of Bangladesh in 1971
- Look at a video of this speech. What is the atmosphere like when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is giving the speech? How do you think the crowd is feeling?
- Why do you think Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has made the demands listed here?
- What is the tone of this report? How does it compare to the tone of the actual speech in the video?
- This speech is still played on many streets and national events in Bangladesh. Why do you think it resonated with so many Bengalis?