50 cyclists mark 50 years of Bangladesh by riding to Whitechapel
- Credit: Abdal Ullah
The 50th anniversary of Bangladeshi independence is being flagged up with 50 cyclists — one for each year — arriving in east London with a warning about global warming.
The riders have been cycling from Oldham since Tuesday calling at eight cities which have large Bengali communities and are expected to arrive today, July 2, at Whitechapel's Altab Ali Park by 3.30pm.
They are raising public awareness about global warming which threatens low-lying Bangladesh.
Volunteers are greeting them at the Bangla language memorial in the park — but there’s no independence rally because of Covid safety precautions, Tower Hamlets Cllr Abdal Ullah revealed.
“We’ll be keeping our distance when the riders get here,” he told the East London Advertiser.
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“We are marking the war of independence from West Pakistan in 1971.
“But there’s a bigger war on our hands against climate change if Bangladesh is to reach its centenary in the next 50 years.
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“Rising ocean levels threaten a fifth of the land that would devastate a nation of 160 million people.”
Bangladesh is on the delta of three major rivers feeding into the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean which are already prone to heavy seasonal flooding.
The 50 riders have been raising the Bangladesh flag when making “pit-stops” on route from Oldham going through Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Northampton and Coventry before reaching Luton by Thursday. They set off today (Friday) heading to St Albans then arriving in Whitechapel Road and the final destination at the language martyrs' memorial.
The peace memorial at Altab Ali Park commemorates those who died in the 1952 riots in the-then East Pakistan to get the Bangla tongue recognised alongside the official Urdu.
It was the start of a move for independence from West Pakistan that eventually led to the nine-month war of independence. The conflict followed the 1971 winter flood disaster when the fast-flowing Brahmapura burst its banks making millions homeless.
The “Freedom 50” anniversary cyclists fear flooding on such scale would become permanent unless the world is alerted to the threat of global warming.