Martyrs' Day public gathering in Whitechapel banned by Covid lockdown

Whitechapel's Martyrs' Day public commemoration banned this year because of Covid

Whitechapel's Martyrs' Day public commemoration, like this one in 2016, has been cancelled this year because of Covid - Credit: LBTH

A commemoration to those killed in the language riots in East Pakistan 69 years ago has been cancelled in Whitechapel this year because of the Covid ban on public gatherings. 

Supporters are being asked instead to mark Martyrs’ Day from home. 

Martyrs’ Day falls on International Mother Language Day on February 21, promoting linguistic diversity in the world. 

The date is the anniversary when four students were killed in 1952 during a campaign in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, to be able to use their mother language officially, which had been outlawed by the Pakistan government. 

The "Martyr monument" in Bangladesh has a replica in Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park, where the community gathers for a ceremony attended by the country's High Commissioner to the UK and by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets. 

“Public events cannot take place due to Covid-19,” Mayor John Biggs said. “But we’ll mark this from home and online.’’  

High Commissioner Saida Tasneem has urged supporters to “stay at home and keep families and friends safe”.