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Bangladesh students celebrate worldwide struggle

Published Apr 14, 2010 5:55 PM

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), along with the All India Democratic Students Organization and All Nepal National Independent Students Union (Revolutionary), was invited to attend the end of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Socialist Students Front of Bangladesh.

Larry Hales addresses mass rally in Dhaka
March 31.
Photos: SST-Bangladesh

The Socialist Students Front, the youth and student organization of the Socialist Party of Bangladesh, was founded in 1984. That was thirteen years after Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan through armed struggle, in response to the Pakistani government’s repression and its neglect following a devastating cyclone.

The SSF has tens of thousands of activists around the country. This was evident in the many thousands who attended the rally and march in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka on March 31.

The rally was held at the University of Dhaka and the march proceeded from there through the city. The thousands of students, many carrying red flags, wound through the streets, blocking traffic and inspiring many onlookers with militant chants for socialism and against U.S. imperialism.

The international participants engaged with student activists from throughout the country, from Dhaka to Syhlet and Chittagong. The theme for the new era of activism, ushered in after the end of the 25th year celebration is “A New Era of Student Movement,” whose goal is to win education as a right for all.

Panels were set up so the guests could engage with Bengali students. The focus was the struggle for education in Bangladesh and across the world, even in the imperialist nations. Many of the students prepared questions for the international activists. These ranged from wanting to know about the various struggles in India for education and against Indian expansionism to the struggle in Nepal for socialism, to the success of the March 4 Day of Action to Defend Education in the U.S. and the left movement in the U.S. The Socialist Students Front had sent a solidarity letter to the activists in the U.S. organizing for March 4.

The international activists were able to visit many universities while in Bangladesh: the University of Dhaka, which has a rich cultural history and is one of the oldest and largest universities in the country; Jahangirnagar University, which is the only school where all the students reside on campus; and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.

The guests visited many other places as well, including a monument to the many who were killed in the national liberation struggle against Pakistan and in the language movement that started after Pakistan declared Urdu as the only official national language. This drew the ire of the Bengali people who were a nationally oppressed group with its own culture, traditions and language. Students from the University of Dhaka organized protests, even though the government had outlawed assemblies, meetings and protests to counter mass sentiment.

The activists also visited a tea field where they were able to talk to some of the workers. They are trying to organize those who toil under oppressive conditions, working up to 12 hours a day, stooped over and forced to pick tea leaves rapidly in the blinding hot sun.

The international participants agreed to deepen their relationships as part of the international struggle to demand and win education as a right for all.

Representing Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) at the SSF events, Hales played a leading role in mobilizing students and youth for the March 4 education protests across the U.S.