Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

Ex-Speaker Humayun remembered

Ex-Speaker Humayun remembered

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President Abdul Hamid on Thursday said the role of late Speaker Humayun Rasheed Choudhury in arranging political asylum for Bangabandhu's two daughters after his assassination in 1975 will never be forgotten, reports UNB.

"Bangabandhu's two daughters were safe in his (Humayun's) shelter for six days from August 15 to August 21 and he gave them mental strength and courage. He arranged political asylum for them in Delhi. This incomparable contribution of the late Speaker in time of their extreme danger can never be forgotten," he said.

The President made the remarks while addressing a virtual discussion meeting on the late JS Speaker marking the latter’s 94th birth anniversary. 

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque and Labour and Employment Ministry Secretary Ehsan E Elahi also spoke at the programme with HRCMC president and former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Md Nojibur Rahman in the chair.

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a Singapore-based renowned scholar-diplomat and former Foreign Affairs Advisor of Bangladesh Caretaker Government, delivered the keynote speech titled "Humayun Rasheed Choudhury: My Memory of a Hero".

President Abdul Hamid said Humayun Rasheed was the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Germany when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members was brutally assassinated on August 15, 1975.

At that time, he said, many politicians, bureaucrats, intellectuals and opportunists changed their stance overnight. "But Humayun Rasheed Choudhury was different. Neither greed nor the risk of life could deviate him from justice and ideals; he didn't sell his conscience."

The President said Bangabandhu's daughters -- current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana -- fortunately escaped the bullets of the assassins as they were staying at the house of Sanaul Haque, a close associate of Bangabandhu and then Bangladesh Ambassador to Belgium.

"The situation changed fast and Sanaul Haque didn't dare or didn't want to give shelter to Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana anymore. But Humayun Rasheed Choudhury brought them to his home in Germany by personal vehicle taking the risk of his career," he observed.

Abdul Hamid, who was the deputy speaker at that time, said Humayun Rasheed successfully served as the Foreign Minister and as the Speaker of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad. "So far, he's the only Bangladeshi to preside over the UN General Assembly (41st session)."

Stating that Humayun Rasheed was appointed as the Speaker of the Jatiya Sangasd in 1996, the President said he brought modernism to parliamentary proceedings and activities alongside reforming parliamentary committees.

He hoped that the Speaker Humayun Rasheed Choudhury Memorial Council will take steps to spread the ideals and the philosophy of life of the late speaker among the new generation.

Minister Mozammel Haque said Humayun Rasheed showed his courage in 1971 by taking a position in favour of Bangladesh being a Pakistani diplomat in India. "He exhibited his bravery once again by sheltering the two daughters of Bangabandhu in 1975."

A towering personality

In his keynote speech, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said Humayun Rasheed Choudhury, affectionately known as HRC in the foreign ministry office, was a national figure of prodigious dimension.

"This essay is not meant to cover the many and varied facets of his life. It's a personal tribute by someone who owes this towering personality a deep sense of warm gratitude. In many ways, he has helped shape my own thoughts and career, and he has many of others," he said.

Dr Iftekhar recalled how HRC as the foreign secretary of Bangladesh eroded the reservations of his Indian and Pakistani counterparts about the formation of SAARC with his great skill and deftness.

He said HRC's election as President of the General Assembly implied recognition of Bangladesh by the international community.

The seasoned diplomat also mentioned how he created the chance for Bangladesh to send troops to the UN Peacekeeping Operations under the guidance of HRC after the end of Iraq-Iran war in 1987.

"But in the end, why would we discuss the life of a personality like HRC in a forum such as this? The obvious answer is to take lessons from his life for us to emulate. There are many, but I'll take three," he said.

First, Dr Iftekhar said, there must be no age bar regarding service to the community.

"Many of you are public servants or private sector executives who will retire at some point in time. But retirement must not mean withdrawal from society, but merely a shift from one work-station to another....So, throughout the span of our lifetime we should remain useful to the community," he said.

"Second, we get best results when we work as a team. HRC was a master in creating team spirit. He always stated that he could see far because he stood on the shoulders of his workmates," Dr Iftekhar said.

Finally, he said, all must always aim high and try harder as genius is a function not merely of intellect, but more of effort, commitment and dogged persistence. "We must remember at all times, if there's a hill to climb waiting won't make it any smaller."