Every year on December 14th, the country of Bangladesh observes Martyred Intellectuals Day. This is a day of remembrance for the large number of intellectuals who were killed by Pakistani forces in 1971.
In March of 1971, a major conflict erupted due to elections in East Pakistan. A political party called the Awami League had won the elections. Arguments arose during the formation of a new government. Things were especially tense between the Bengalis and West Pakistanis. Violence ensued as the Awami League launched a campaign of civil disobedience. Supporters attacked many non-Bengali civilians. This was the beginning of the Bangladesh Liberation War.
On December 14, 1971, the Pakistani forces began sensing defeat. As a result, they abducted and killed Bengali intellectuals and professionals. They did so as a way to intellectually cripple the newly liberated country of Bangladesh. These intellectuals included teachers, lawyers, scientists, doctors, engineers, and journalists. They were forced out of their homes, blindfolded, and killed.
According to the Provisional Government of Bangladesh, 360 intellectuals were killed. This number has been disputed. Some say over 1,000 intellectuals were killed. Even though a comprehensive list of those who were killed has been promised by the government, that list has yet to be produced.
Martyred Intellectuals Day History
In 1993, the government of Bangladesh had the idea of building a memorial in Dhaka for the martyred intellectuals. Construction for the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial began in 1996 and was completed in 1999. Before the memorial was built, family members and loved ones of the martyred intellectuals visited the site of a mass grave where their loved ones were believed to have died.