Friends of Liberation War in 1971: Michael Barnes funeral held in UK
03:57 PM, April 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:51 AM, April 09, 2018

LIBERATION WAR ROLE

Friends of freedom: Michael Barnes funeral held in UK

The funeral ceremony of Michael Barnes who is best known for his contribution and support to Liberation War in 1971, was held in West London on Thursday.

Barnes, a former British lawmaker from Labour Party, passed away on March 22.

The funeral service was conducted by Rev Canon Dr William Taylor and attended by his family members including his wife Anne Barnes, son High Barnes and his grandchildren Tatiana & Aliki Barnes, Alfie, Harry, Stanley & Daisy Cain, our London correspondent reports.  

The Bangladesh High Commissioner Nazmul Quaunine, Deputy High Commissioner Khondker M Talha, UK Awami League’s President Sultan Shariff and other Bengali representatives of Bangabandhu Parishod and Swadhinata Trust were also present on the occasion.

The government of Bangladesh awarded Barnes with 'Friends of Liberation War Honour' on March 27, 2012.

On receiving the award in Dhaka, the former Barnes said they were greatly honoured at the Bangladesh government's invitation, “We accept the honour. Long live Bangladesh. Joy Bangla.”

At the same event, 75 individuals and six organisations from across the world, Mitra Bahini (allied forces) and the people of India were honoured for their wholehearted support to Bangladesh's liberation in 1971.

Michael Barnes was a Labour MP (1966-1974) for Brentford and Chiswick in West London.

In the UK he was the longest serving Chair of Bangabandhu Parishod since its inception in 1979. His link with the UK Bengali community was partly through his time at UKIAS, the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service. He was the Chief Executive of IAS, from 1984 to 1990.

During the Liberation War Barnes went to India to visit refugee camps and Bangladesh. He had met members of exiled Bangladesh government as a member of a British delegation to see the inhumane conditions of the people. During nine months of the war he visited affected areas twice with aid.

Michael Barnes met Bangabandhu in 1972 as a member of All Party British Parliamentary delegation to see the destructions done by the Pakistan occupying military. He came back to Bangladesh in 1973 with British relief. 

He met Bangabandhu in February of 1972. I went with another member of the parliament. At that time, it was very difficult to travel around Bangladesh, so many bridges were down, and travel was very difficult. So, they made one visit out of Dhaka, they flew to Dinajpur; and were able to see some of the destructions. 

About Bangabandhu Michael Barnes said he had a very great charisma, a very impressive gentleman. 

He went to Bangladesh during the Pakistani crackdown. During the war the Pakistani cricket team was due to come to England for a tour and he thought this was most inappropriate. He tabled a motion in the House of Commons saying words to the effect that the Pakistani team should not come. In the parliament he gave a clear picture of the genocide that was happening in Bangladesh. He felt it was most inappropriate for the Pakistani cricket team to visit especially after the crackdown by the end of March 1971 and all the reports coming through of killings & rape. 

In an interview in 2006 he said Bangladesh had a great future and was an incredibly fertile country. At the service in his eulogy Michael Barnes’s son Hugh Barnes in an emotional tribute to his father he said his father was back in Bangladesh in 2012 to receive an award from Mujib’s daughter Sheikh Hasina. 

His acceptance speech on that occasion was, in Michael Barnes opinion, the best speech he had ever made, and there were tears in his eyes as he drew to a close with raised hand and the words, "Joy Bangla!"

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Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

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