The Shaheed Minar (Bengali: শহীদ মিনার Shohid Minar lit. “Martyr Monument”) is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate those killed during the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations of 1952 in then East Pakistan.
On February 21 and 22, 1952, some students from Dhaka University and Dhaka Medical College and political activists were killed when the Pakistani police force opened fire on Bengali protesters who were demanding official status for their native tongue, Bengali. The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka. A makeshift monument was erected on February 23 by students of University of Dhaka and other educational institutions, but soon demolished on February 26 by the Pakistani police force.
The Language Movement gained momentum, and after a long struggle, Bengali gained official status in Pakistan (with Urdu) in 1956. To commemorate the dead, the Shaheed Minar was designed and built by Bangladeshi sculptors Hamidur Rahman in collaboration with Novera Ahmed. Construction was delayed by martial law, but the monument was finally completed in 1963, and stood until the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, when it was demolished completely during Operation Searchlight. After Bangladesh gained independence later that year, it was rebuilt. It was expanded in 1983.
National, mourning, cultural and other activities held each year to mark February 21, Ekushey or Shaheed Dibas (Martyrs’ Day), are centered on the Shaheed Minar. Since 2000, 21 February is also recognized as International Mother Language Day.