DHAKA, Jan 10, 2021 (BSS) – Bangladesh High Commission in London celebrated the historic maiden visit of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the United Kingdom on 8th January, 1972 en route to his heroic homecoming to independent Bangladesh after his released from 9-month long imprisonment in Pakistan.
The Bangladesh mission celebrated the historic event by organising a virtual discussion on “Bangabandhu & Britain: And the Historic 8th January” on Thursday, according to a message received here today.
Attending the discussion, British ministers, leader of the opposition, eminent parliamentarians, senior members of the House of Lords, Ambassadors, renowned British journalists and senior UK Foreign Office officials paid their profound homage to Bangabandhu and recalling his special relationship with British Government, its Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers in early 70s and with the British-Bangladeshi expatriates.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen spoke as the Chief Guest, chaired by High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the UK and Ireland Saida Muna Tasneem, while British Foreign and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for South Asia and Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmed attended as Guest of Honour and First Minister of Wales Rt Hon Mark Drakeford AM as special guest.
Dr Momen said Bangabandhu’s stopover in London on 8 January 1972 before he reached independent Bangladesh and subsequent meetings with the then British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and opposition and Labour Leader Sir William Harold demonstrated an unqualified friendship from both the ruling conservative government as well as the opposition labour party and unconditional love from his Bangladeshi-British brethren.
“Bangabandhu’s 8th January official meeting with Sir Edward Heath not only set in stone a strong Bangladesh-UK friendship to grow in leaps and bounds over the next 50 years, but also paved the way for Bangladesh’s official recognition by Britain on 4 February 1972,” he said.
Lord Ahmed said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is an inspiration not just to the Bengali community across the world but to many who fought for liberty and democracy.
Bangabandhu laid the foundation of a strong partnership and deep friendship that Bangladesh-UK has been enjoying in the past five decades since his maiden visit to the UK on 8th January, 1972, he said.
He said that Bangabandhu’s founding vision of a democratic, secular and inclusive Bangladesh was an inspiring one; and the UK would remain a critical partner of Bangladesh seeking to support peace and prosperity for all its people led by the able leader of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Leader of the opposition and the Labour Party Leader Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP paid his deep tribute to Bangabandhu and said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a great statesman who spent 14 years imprisonment for fighting to establish civil, political and cultural rights of his people and leading his country towards independence.”
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem said, Bangabandhu’s 8th January visit to the UK and his official meeting at Number 10 Downing Street where he was recognized by Prime Minister Edward Heath as the President of independent Bangladesh, was in fact de facto diplomatic recognition by the then Conservative Government of a just liberated Bangladesh, and a testimony to the special status that a Statesman like Bangabandhu enjoyed with Britain.
Later, Dr Momen and Lord Ahmed jointly inaugurated the ‘Bangabandhu Library’ established at the Bangladesh High Commission in London, marking the historic day of Bangabandhu’s maiden visit to the UK and the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation.