‘22 years ago, on September 25, 1974, our great leader, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was standing on this platform on behalf of the people of Bangladesh and addressing a great session of the General Assembly. As the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, as the daughter of the Father of the Nation, I am moved by the rare honour and opportunity to speak at this unique World Forum.’ - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Daughter Sheikh Hasina walks on the path shown by her father. She also reflected her views in the global platform like him (Bangabandhu). The most beautiful institutionalisation of it happened on October 24, 1996, at the 51st General Assembly of the United Nations. Daughter Sheikh Hasina brought back the lost Bangladesh’s representation in that speech at the UN General Assembly given 26 years ago. On this day, the words spoken by the father reminded the world in a new way and in a new wrap. On that day, the entire Bangali nation and even the leaders of the third world were overwhelmed with the Prime Minister.
“I have been subjected to torture by the dictatorial government, I have been imprisoned many times and several attempts have been made to assassinate me. But nothing could stop me from achieving my goal of restoring democracy,” she said in the 54th session of 1999.
Bangabandhu had the opportunity to speak only once in the UN session on September 25, 1974. He did not get a chance to see it next September. Before that he had to give his life in the hands of his own people in a brutal way. In that speech to the 29th General Assembly of the United Nations, Bangabandhu raised about 25 issues; Which shook the foreign policy of the whole world at that time. This speech delivered in Bengali, at the highest body of the world, is still considered as a strong and courageous step in establishing the rights of deprived people.
With full confidence in the power of the people of his country, Bangabandhu said that day, ‘Countries like ours, whose rise through struggle and sacrifice, faith in this ideology will keep them alive. We may have to admit our hardships. But we are not destroyed. The people’s resistance and strong commitment to deal with this war of life is the last word. Self-reliance is our goal. The united initiative of the people is our prescribed course of action.
There is no doubt that international cooperation and partnership in resources and technology can facilitate our work, alleviate the suffering of the people. But emerging nations like ours must have confidence in their own performance. It must be remembered that only through the united and concerted efforts of the people can we be able to reach our specific goals and build a better future.'
Every word of Bangabandhu’s speech seemed to have the unwavering support of not only 7 crore Bangalis but also 3 million martyrs. The appeal of this speech has never ended, not even in the last 47 years. In an immediate response to the speech, world leaders called it an essential part of history, and for Bangladesh it is a living testament to diplomatic relations.
However, this step of deepening the relationship was not smooth. In the very next year after independence (1972), when Bangladesh started its bid for UN membership, Pakistan put barriers.
Bangladesh failed to gain membership as China vetoed at the instigation of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The incident was repeated in 1973.
However, Bangabandhu tackled this problem with extraordinary efficiency. On 17 September 1974, at 4:00am Bangladesh time, the United Nations recognised Bangladesh as the 136th member state. The Father of the Nation showed great enthusiasm on that day by winning the main challenge of Bangladesh in the field of global relations. In an immediate response, he said, “I am happy that Bangladesh has won its fair share of seats in the United Nations.”
Exactly one week later, the Father of the Nation addressed the General Assembly. The path started by Bangabandhu on the UN issue has only moved forward. The scope of work and activity has increased every year. Bangabandhu received the prestigious ‘Joliot-Curie’ medal from the United Nations in recognition of the establishment of peace. And under the leadership of his daughter Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is in the first position in the UN peace mission today. So far, 132 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have died, working in the most dangerous areas of the world. This sacrifice of Bangladesh in maintaining world peace is an episode of pride.
At present, about 3 percent of the world’s population speaks Bengali. In Bangladesh, this number is about 16 crores. Bengali is also spoken in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andaman and Nicobar, Dhanbad, Manbhum, Santal Parganas and other areas of India. There are a large number of Bengali speaking immigrants and expatriates in Nepal, Malaysia, Korea, China, Singapore, various countries in the Middle East, United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy etc.
Thousands of Bengali speaking scholars have come to Bangladesh. Bangalis like Rabindranath and Amartya Sen have conquered the world. But there is no one before Bangabandhu who introduced the Bengali language to the world. Rabindranath Tagore was the first Bengali to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Through him the first Bengali language was introduced in global platform. But nowhere in the world he did not speak in Bengali. In 1998, Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is the second Bangali to receive the Nobel Prize. He also gave his speech in English. Bangladesh’s only Nobel laureate. Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Bangali Dr Muhammad Yunus did not give priority to Bengali language even in his speech of Nobel laureate.
In other words, Bangabandhu was the first person to speak in Bengali for the first time in front of the whole world. The continuity of which is now maintained by her daughter Sheikh Hasina. She is currently in the United States to deliver a speech at the United Nations. In the meantime, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been lauded as a ‘Crown Jewel’ for her developmental activities in the country. She was awarded the title by the Earth Institute, Columbia University, Global Masters of Development Practice and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network at the 9th Annual International Conference on Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Not only the title of Crown Jewel, but also the extraordinary development of Bangladesh was highly praised at the event. Jeffrey Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a leading development economist in the United States, mentioned the Prime Minister’s contribution to development work at the session, saying, “Honourable Prime Minister! We want to hear from you, especially because when we analyze the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals of the countries of the world that the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network has every year, from 2015 to 2020, Bangladesh has been the first in the world to make progress in most respects. So, we want to congratulate you for that.”
In this way, Bangladesh, Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina have become brighter and brighter in the UN. Earlier, she was awarded the ‘Champions of the Earth’ from the United Nations for tackling the risks of climate change; Sheikh Hasina has received several awards from the organisation, including the ITU Award, for her outstanding contribution to the formation of Digital Bangladesh and the development of information technology. Besides, a meeting was held at the UN headquarters for the first time on the occasion of Bangabandhu’s martyrdom anniversary. The world leaders present at the meeting called Bangabandhu ‘Friend of the World’.
An examination of the nature of history reveals that Bangabandhu brought independence to the country; And the people’s leader Sheikh Hasina is fulfilling the responsibility of protecting it. Following her return home, the dictator Ershad fell, the BNP-Jamaat mask was unveiled and the closed door for the trial of Bangabandhu’s assassination was opened.
Today, for the 18th time in a row, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in the UN session. The truth is white. With the bias of being in favour of that white, I am saying that Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina will have direct and indirect contribution in everything that Bangladesh has got in the past, what it is getting now and what it will get in the future from this highest body of the world (UN). Here is the dazzling Bangabandhu, upbeat Sheikh Hasina.
Author: Freedom fighter and Member, Advisory Council Bangladesh Awami League.