There are nearly 45 000 people living in the West Midlands area who identify themselves as British Bangladeshi. This identification is their association with the country called Bangladesh in Southeast Asia. When the country formed as an independent country from East Pakistan to Bangladesh in 1971 it was a painful process of liberation through a massacre that happened during the liberation war from 26th March 1971 to 16th December 1971. Obviously, there was a period of movement, resistance, and protest that happened against the oppression of Pakistani politicians at that time from 1952 till the independence.
During this liberation war and movement time, people of East Pakistan living in Birmingham and West Midlands at that time played a significant role which includes: campaigns for the case, fundraising, working on getting international support and supporting the formation of Bangladesh. There was a big protest meeting at Small Heath Park, Birmingham. ‘’… a meeting by more than 6,000 people to express solidarity with the leader of breakaway East Pakistan, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”(29 March 1971, Birmingham Daily Post). In that meeting, Badrun Nesa Pasha gave her wedding jewellery to initiate and inspire fundraising activities for the liberation force. For the first time, an independent Bangladeshi flag was raised with cheers outside Bangladesh in that meeting on 28th March 1971. A significant number of British Bangladeshis living in Birmingham were involved and actively supported the liberation movement of Bangladesh in 1971. They supported the noble cause, raising funds for the victims of a massacre by the Pakistani Army, supported the freedom fighters, and campaigned to raise international support for an independent country: Bangladesh. A significant number of these activists are still alive and are feeling better to be recognised and mentioned.
‘The 50 Years of Bangla Brummies’ engaged and involved a wider range of people and communities in their shared history and the cultural heritage of the ‘Independent Bangla Movement’ from Birmingham in 1971 to celebrate 50 years of British Bangladeshi identity. We have recorded 18 oral histories with elders from the Bangladeshi community. Alongside outreach sessions in the community, a play was produced called ‘Sector 12’ based on oral history recordings and we made 3 successful performances of the play ‘Sector 12’ in Birmingham and London.
It was a wonderful experience to incorporate the stories to a tangible outcome like publishing a book that all the targeted community people have started to appreciate not only in Birmingham but all over the country and abroad including Bangladesh. We have started to get feedback and we think continue top have them in coming years.