A three-day (August 18-20) photography exhibition titled “London 1971” opens today at 4:30pm at Gallery-5 of National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA). Asaduzzaman Noor, Cultural Affairs Minister, will inaugurate the exhibition. Project London 1971 supported by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, BSA and other private institutions has organised the exhibition.
A discussion on the title “London 1971: Unsung Heroes of Bangladesh's Liberation War” will take place at 5:30pm the same day. Finance minister AMA Muhit will grace the discussion as chief guest while State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, MP will attend as special guest. Former foreign secretary Mohiuddin Ahmad and Dr. Nuzhat Chowdhury, Associate Professor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujub Medical University, will be present as discussants at the event. Ujjal Das, initiator of the Project London 1971, will deliver the welcome address while chairman of the project Fazlul Kabir Tuhin will preside over the discussion.
The photography exhibition is very relevant as London witnessed many tumultuous scenes during the Liberation War. Though living in a foreign land, expatriate Bangalees jolted the streets of Britain longing for independent Bangladesh. British parliament members, politicians, journalists, social workers and students played a great role in gathering public support. Revolutionary Bangalees burnt down the Pakistani flag at the Pakistani High Commission in London on 5 March, 1971. Members of women's associations handed a memorandum at the residence of the British prime minister on April 3. An exhibition showcasing the first eight stamps and envelopes of independent Bangladesh was held in the House of Commons on July 26. A phenomenal gathering of people for Bangladesh took place at Trafalgar Square, London on August 1.
The establishment of a diplomatic mission in London on August 27 was another milestone in the journey. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrived on Heathrow Airport at dawn on January 8, 1972. In the evening, a crowded press conference was organised with his presence in Claridge Hotel. Many committees and associations played a vital role in establishing public opinion and raising the “Bangladesh Fund”.
This exhibition incorporates the exclusive photographs of those turbulent days. Apart from Dhaka, the exhibition will also be arranged in Sylhet, and in UK cities London and Birmingham.
A digital archive -- www.london1971.com -- is also going to be launched soon which will have information on the Liberation War. Besides, at the end of this year, Somoy Prakashan will publish a book named “London 1971” which is the outcome of Ujjal Das' seven-year research in UK. The book chronicles the events beginning with the early stages of Liberation War and ends with the homecoming of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman via London.
“I came to know about British photographer Roger Goyen during this study. Many of his rare photographs bear testimony to the unnoticed moments of our Liberation War. The photographs of British-born Bangladeshi Yusuf Chowdhury should also be recognised in the book. I have collected paper cuttings of many Bengali and English newspapers, posters, leaflets etcetera to complete the work,” said Ujjal Das.