President Abdul Hamid, standing beside Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, hands famous Indian actress Waheeda Rehman, right, the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” for her outstanding contribution to the Liberation War efforts in 1971. Waheeda led an aid committee in Maharashtra to raise funds for Bangladeshi refugees. The photo was taken at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre yesterday. Photo: PID
The government yesterday honoured 60 more foreign friends at a ceremony for their invaluable contributions to the country's Liberation War in 1971.
This was the seventh and the last such function organised by the present government during its tenure.
Bangladesh has honoured a total of 338 foreign nationals and organisations for their role in favour of the country's independence.
Yesterday, two categories of award -- "Bangladesh Liberation War Honour" and "Friends of Liberation War Honour" -- were conferred on the foreign nationals at the function.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the award to the foreign friends at the capital's Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Of the award recipients, 44 were from India, four each from Pakistan and the USA, two each from the UK, Japan and Egypt, and one each from Sri Lanka and Turkey.
The "Bangladesh Liberation War Honour" was conferred on former Indian president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and former Indian prime minister Gulzarilal Nanda.
The 58 others were honoured with "Friends of Liberation War Honour".
Speaking at the function, both the president and the prime minister expressed their deep gratitude to the foreign nationals.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina along with foreign nationals, who were honoured for their contributions to the country's Liberation War in 1971, at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital yesterday. Photo: Star
In his speech, the president thanked the foreign friends for receiving the honour.
"We know, we have not been able to confer honour to many of our friends who had sacrificed a lot for the independence of Bangladesh," Hamid said.
"There are many whose names we don't know. But they silently stood beside us during the war," he added.
The premier sought support from the foreign friends to accomplish the war crimes trial, which has been going on in the country after 42 years' of the Liberation War.
She told the guests that her government was determined to complete the trial of war criminals in a fair, neutral and transparent manner to bring an end to the culture of impunity.
In a written speech, she said, "We are confident that the process would help us to close an unpleasant chapter in our history and allow us to proceed with greater clarity on our respective roles and responsibility."
The foreign friends stood by the people of Bangladesh and organised moral and material support of the world for the just cause of Bangalees, Hasina said.
By honouring the foreign friends, the nation was actually reaffirming its faith in the principles it stood for, she said.
She also said her government amended the constitution to establish the spirit of the Liberation War and ensure that none could play with the fate of people.
Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, said Bangladesh has progressed a lot economically amidst global recession.
"The country is now being conferred awards in the world," she said, adding that these achievements and the spirit of the Liberation War must be upheld for the advancement of the country.
Pranab Ranjan Ray, an Indian intellectual and social worker, spoke on behalf of the award recipients.
Pranab said they felt depressed after the killing of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 because they thought the values of the Liberation War had gone.
"Now we are happy again to see that the country got its values of the Liberation War back," he said.
The Indian nationals who received "Friends of Liberation War Honour" included Dr Zainal Abedin, Swapan Kumar Bhattacharjee, Mrinmoyee Bose, Biswajit R Chatterjee, Shyamol Chowdhury, Gouri Ghosh, Partho Gosh, Wing Commander Swaroop Krishna Kaul, Maj Gen Lachhman Singh Lehl, Dr Shyama Prasad Mandal, Pranabranjan Ray, Waheeda Rehman, Shukharanjan Sengupta, Binay Roy, Prof Sourindranath Bhattacharya, Shalil Ghosh, Dr Aniruddha Ray, Shakti Chattapadhaya, Prof Gautam Chattapadhaya, Rabindranath Chowdhury, Dr Nalinakkho Chowdhury, Pannalal Dasgupta, Shaheed Capt Manmohan Sagor Duggal, Dr Asghar Ali, Engineer Snehangshu Kanta Acharyya, Somnath Hore, Maulana Syed Asad Madni, VK Krisna Meon, Suchitra Mitra, NB Mukherjee, Rabindro Mohan Chowdhury, Abul Fazal Golam Osmani, Kulwant Singh Pannu, Kishore Parekh, Ashok Ray, Subhash Mukhopadhaya, Samar Ranjan Sen, Samar Sen, Shaheed Subedar Mailkiat Singh, Sukhdev Singh Sanhu, Tapishwar Narain Raina.
The nationals of Pakistan are Dr Tariq Rahman, Master Khan Gul, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
The four USA nationals are Dr Richard A Cash, Daniel C Dunham, Mary Francis Dunhum and Dr Alfred Sommer.
The two UK nationals are Ellen Connet and Dr Paul Connet, two Japanese are General Iwaichi Fujiwara and Ken Arimitsu, one Sri Lankan EA Vidyasekera, one Turkish Cetin Ozbayrak, one Egyptian Prof Rifaat Mohamed El Said and the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) of Egypt.
Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan read out the citations of the award recipients while Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and State Minister for Liberation War Affairs AB Tajul Islam, among others, spoke on the occasion.