Victory Day 2017 and 2018
Victory Day is celebrated every December 16th in Bangladesh to mark the anniversary of the surrender of Pakistan’s armed forces in Bangladesh at the end of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
|2017||16 Dec||Sat||Victory Day|
|2018||16 Dec||Sun||Victory Day|
Thus, Victory Day is closely associated with Bangladesh’s Independence Day on March 26th, when independence from Pakistan was first declared. Also of note, the Bangladeshi constitution was also implemented on December 16th in 1972.
The area now occupied by Bangladesh has a long history of independence, going back as far as 1000 B.C. to the state of “old Bangla.” And the name Bangladesh highlights the fact that it is only natural for the Bengal people, having their own language and culture, to rule themselves, for “bangla” means “Bengal” and “desh” means “land or country.” Ninety-eight percent of the people of Bangladesh are of Bengali descent.
The union with Pakistan only came about as a result of the partition of British India into Muslim and Hindu “zones” in 1947, India becoming one nation and Pakistan another. However, West Pakistan (modern Pakistan) was separated by hundreds of miles from East Pakistan (Bangladesh), which made for a most unnatural union. Later, Pakistan began to refuse equal status to the Bengali language and otherwise ignite resentment in Bangladesh. Finally, in 1971, a revolt broke out as Bengalis demanded self-rule. Pakistan, however, fought back. Nearly 10 million people were displaced and three million killed in the bloody nine months of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
Aided by India, and by the logistical difficulty of holding onto a land so geographically separated from their homeland, Pakistan was finally defeated. The Pakistani General Amir Niazi finally surrendered to Allied General Jagjit Aurora on December 16th at the Ramna Race Course in downtown Dhaka. The crowds gathered to witness the event cheered wildly, but General Aurora remained as silent as U.S. Grant at Appomattox. Within only a few months’ time, most other nations of the world had recognized Bangladesh’s hard-won independence.
Should you be in Bangladesh for Victory Day, some activities to take part in include:
- Attend the main celebration, a military parade at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka, the capital. You will hear the Bangladeshi national anthem, likely hear the president give a speech, and see a fireworks display. Later, you may also want to stop by Jatiyo Smriti Soudho, the monument to those slain in the Bangladeshi genocide, as many others will do.
- Visit the very place of the surrender of Pakistani forces, Ramna Race Course, which is now called “Suhrawardy Uddyan.” Once a place to race horses on Sundays, the grounds have been transformed into a lush, green park with lakes and fountains, merry-go-rounds for the kids, souvenir stands, and an “entertainment zone.” You will also see the “Eternal Flame” at the very spot where Pakistan surrendered and the nearby “Tower of Light.”
- Also in Suhrawardy Uddyan, there is an underground Museum of Independence that covers the history of Bangladesh in 300-plus, glass-cased pictures. There are also newspaper clippings of the liberation war and a replica of the very table where General Niazi surrendered to General Aurora.