Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Foreigners honoured for role in Bangladesh independence


Photo:Julian Francis, received the coveted Friends of Bangladesh award for his role in the refugee camps in India

SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh has not forgotten them! After 40 years of Bangladesh independence, the nation salutes those foreigners on Tuesday who have contributed to the 1971 war of independence of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, then the eastern wing of Pakistan, gained independence through a nine-month war that ended with the surrender of thousands of Pakistani soldiers on Dec. 16, 1971. The war cost the lives of about 3 million people while about 200,000 women were raped and nearly 10 million people took shelter in refugee camps in India


Bangladesh felicitated some 561 foreigners and some 83 were present. The list of foreigner were heads of state or government of eight countries, politicians, philosophers, artistes, authors, and litterateurs, journalists and social justice activists.

The personalities who received the honour are from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bhutan, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherland, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam, and former Yugoslavia.

Among them was Beatle’s George Harrison for the best seller fund-raise campaign “Concert for Bangladesh” and heartthrob Indian singer Lata Mungeshkar.

The international organizations are the then communist party of Soviet Union Politburo, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), International Committee for Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and aid agency Oxfam.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister said she is excited that we could honour the foreign friends of Bangladesh for their contribution in the freedom struggle in 1971.

She (Hasina) said many American, British and Indian foreign journalists demonstrated courage to report on the bloody war of Bangladesh. They published their report at the risk of their lives. Some had been thrown into prison and others lost their jobs, she said.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004, for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists with links to international terror network fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com