In a corner of Tower Hamlets there is a small park which overlays the more ancient location of St Mary’s Church at the corner of Whitehapel High Street and Whitechurch Street. This park is now known as Altab Ali Park - named in commemoration of the racist killing in 1978 (May 4) of a young local Bangladeshi Altab Ali.
At the corner of the park is a memorial. The memorial is a replica of the Martyrs Monument (Shaheed Minar) which is located at the Dhaka Medical College Campus in Bangladesh. The Memorial commemorates the date in 1952 when students from various Universities in Bangladesh demonstrated for recognition of their “Bengali” language. During the country wide demonstrations a number of protesting students were killed by police in Dhaka - which, following the “War of Liberation” in 1971, became the capital of present day Bangladesh.
The gathering at midnight of thousands of local people, and hundreds of organisations and representatives from the Bangladeshi community at Altab Ali Park on 20th February 2014, joined in the vigil and laying of a mountain of flowers - led by Lutfur Rahman (Independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets) and Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, the Bangladeshi High Commissioner. This not only marked the significance of “International Mother Language Day” as “Martyrs Day” for the local Bangladeshi community, but drew together a multiplicity of cultural and social issues...
Altab Ali Park is for the Bangladeshi community “a small corner in some foreign field” - this place not only reflects upon the persistence of mindless racism and ignorance that results in the innocent death of people, or reminds us of the paranoia of oppressive states who try to silence its critics - but where we can stand up against oppression. The park provides a beautiful place where thousands can gather, stop and think, lay flowers and speak up - ensuring that whichever language used is universally understood.
"Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue."
—from the United Nations International Mother Language Day
■ No to scapegoating of immigrants ■ No to Islamophobia ■ Yes to diversity
Rally and Demo marking UN Anti-Racism Day 11am, Saturday 22nd March 2014
Parade from the Mandela Statue in Parliament to rally at Trafalgar Square
Visit the Stand up to racism website it has full details of travel to London from around the country, a full list of signatories to the statement and you can download the latest leaflet and poster.
A day of action against racism has been called for across Europe to coincide with the marking of UN Anti-Racism Day in 2014, with eyes on the European elections in May. Already in most European countries parties of the right, centre and even the traditional left are allowing the terrain of these elections to be dominated by racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and the scapegoating of minorities – Muslims, immigrants, Roma, Black and Asian communities. Across Europe the fascist and populist racist right are on the rise. From the violent Golden Dawn in Greece, the anti-Roma Jobbik in Hungary, the Islamophobic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to the success of the Front National in France, these currents are encouraging hatred, fear and prejudice in a frightening wave across the continent. In Britain the far right is hoping for gains in the Euro elections. The British National Party (BNP) is seeking the re-election of Nick Griffin in the North West and Andrew Brons is seeking re-election in Yorkshire and the Humber. The mainstream political parties look set to capitulate to UKIP in their calls for draconian ‘anti-immigration’ policies and promoting a ‘Little Englander’ anti-foreign, anti-Europe mentality. The ‘go-home’ vans sent out by the Home Office over the summer are a sign of things to come. Hostility is already being stirred up towards Bulgarian and Romanian migrant workers who will be able to work here from January. Such campaigns simply whip up racism in general and induce a ‘blame game’ for falling living standards and squeezed incomes that falls on visible minorities in stepped up discrimination, institutional racism, abuse and violence. This all encourages currents like the English Defence League, which turn their Islamophobic prejudices into real attempts to terrorise the Muslim population – attacking Mosques, assaulting veiled women, insulting religious sensitivities with vile slogans and throwing pigs’ heads, and organising intimidating marches into Muslim communities. Following the rising violence of Golden Dawn and the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, (also known as Killah P), the Greek anti-fascist and anti-racist movement has proposed that next year’s UN Day Against Race Discrimination on March 21/22 should be the focus for actions against racism and fascism across Europe. While there is a real threat that openly racist parties may win the 2014 Euro-elections in some countries, this can be prevented by the widest possible unity against them and the mobilisation of the broadest progressive forces. Unite Against Fascism has therefore initiated this call for a demonstration and rally to Stand Up to Racism in London on Saturday 22nd March. We endorse this proposal and call on all those of goodwill to join us in a riposte to the rise of racism, to show that migrants are welcome and demonstrate our confidence in a future free of scapegoating and hatred.