Family members and friends yesterday commemorated the 15 army officers, who were killed in a plane crash in Benin a decade ago while journeying back home from the UN peace missions a decade ago.
The crash stands out as one of the most tragic chapters in Bangladesh army's history, they said at a memorial meeting in the auditorium of Retired Armed Forces Welfare Association in the capital, organised by Rhythm Cultural Society and DefLog Event Management.
Speaking as chief guest, Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman said Bangladeshi peacekeepers were always recognised for their integrity wherever they went around the world.
“There was a time when people used to say the sun never sets on the British empire. Today, we can say the sun never sets on the Bangladeshi peacekeepers,” he said.
“However, unlike Europeans, Bangladeshis don't travel around the world to plunder different regions. The Bangladeshi army members spend their lives in faraway countries to restore peace and serve people.”
He stressed that the Bangladeshi peacekeepers, who had lost their lives abroad, should be honoured on the independence and victory days of Bangladesh.
Farida Rouf, who lost her only child Capt Arifur Rahman Talukder in the fatal crash on December 25, 2003, said, “I have been living with the memories of my beloved son for 10 years. I am grateful to the people who, like me, still remember him.”
Maybe the dedicated peacekeepers of Bangladesh are not recognised in the country, but they are always loved around the world, said Maj (retd) Khandakar Nurul Islam, chairman of Afsar Group Bangladesh.
Prof Emeritus Dr Rashid Uddin Ahmed and Maj (retd) Amin Ahmed Afsari also spoke at the event.
Among the Benin crash victims, thirteen served in Sierra Leone and the remaining two officers were stationed in Liberia. They were coming home on vacation as the tragedy occurred.
A total of 114 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have lost their lives since 1988 when Bangladesh started serving the UN peacekeeping missions.