Crowds gathered in Whitechapel to commemorate Martyrs’ Day.

A remembrance was held on Tuesday (February 21) for the four students killed in what was East Pakistan in 1952 during a campaign to officially speak their Bengali mother tongue.

The annual commemoration at Altab Ali Park on UN International Mother Language Day, organised by Tower Hamlets Council with the Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee, commemorates the students with a replica of the Martyrs Monument in Dhaka, in what became independent Bangladesh in 1971.

“We remember those who made huge sacrifices for their language,” Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman said.

“This reminds us how important it is to promote linguistic diversity.”

Mr Rahman, speaker of the council Jahed Choudhury and Bangladesh High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem all laid wreaths. 

The Bengali students died in February 1952 in protests for the right to speak Bangla as an official language, which later became a symbol of Bengali nationalism in the move towards independence from Pakistan.