Bangabandhu towering figure of twentieth century: US diplomat


Acting assistant secretary of Bureau of South and Central Asian affairs of the US Department of State Dean Thompson has described Bangabandhu as a “towering figure of the twentieth century” who shaped the modern Bangladesh.

He said the historic speech of 7 March inspired the people of Bangladesh to fight for independence and continues to inspire the people of Bangladesh to develop their country even further.

The US diplomat made the remarks while addressing a webinar to commemorate the historic 7 March speech delivered by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington DC, with the support of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the US State Department, organised the webinar on Sunday.

The event was participated by high government leadership, academia, diplomats, think tanks, media, and government officials from Bangladesh and the US. Due to public health restrictions, the discussion was held virtually over the “Zoom” platform.

After the welcome remarks by Bangladesh ambassador to the US, M Shahidul Islam, Prof Syed Anwar Husain delivered the keynote address on Bangabandhu's life and ideals attaching a particular focus to the 7 March speech.

Ambassador Tariq A Karim, South Asia analyst Seth Oldmixon, and ambassador of the US to Bangladesh Earl R Miller were among the panel speakers in the webinar.

Acting assistant secretary Thompson attended the webinar as the special guest and state minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam, MP, was the chief guest, said a media release on Monday.

Prof Syed Anwar Hossain said that the 7 March speech was delivered impromptu as it was an unwritten one.

He said this was the shortest and at the same time the best speech, delivered in a colloquial language to reach across everyone…” The 7 March speech constituted a roadmap for independence of Bangladesh", said Prof Husain.

Ambassador Tariq A Karim said that Bangabandhu was an extraordinary orator, unparalleled in our living memories.

He said Bangabandhu's 7 March speech was an impassioned appeal for seeking his people's backing.

Renowned South Asia analyst Seth Oldmixon said that the history of Bangladesh has parallels with American history as both the countries fought anti-colonial independence movements, and the 7 March speech is a culmination of incredible historical events that led to the independence of Bangladesh.

Ambassador Earl Miller recalled senator Edward Kennedy's speech on 14 February, 1972, at the University of Dhaka, attended by eight thousand jubilant students of Dhaka University. Ambassador Earl Miller quoted Edward Kennedy that the United States’ people were with the people of Bangladesh during the War of Liberation, although the government was not.

Assistant secretary Thompson applauded the generosity of Bangladesh in protecting the forcibly displaced Rohingyas and said that the US is a steadfast partner of Bangladesh in finding a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

He said, "One of the areas we are most excited to work on is expanding our economic partnership. Bangladesh offers so many opportunities in diverse areas, from renewable energy, port infrastructure to artificial intelligence."

He expressed confidence that the US-Bangladesh relations will continue to strengthen under the Biden administration.

State minister Shahriar Alam paid deep reverence to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for his clarion call to the Bengali nation for waging the decisive struggle against the Pakistan occupation force and declaring the independence of Bangladesh on 7 March, 1971, that ultimately led to an independent and sovereign Bangladesh.

He recalled with thanks the role of ambassador M Shahidul Islam at the UNESCO in attaining the recognition to and listing of the historic 7 March speech in the Memory of the World Register.

The webinar ended with the concluding remarks by the ambassador of Bangladesh to the US, M Shahidul Islam. Deputy chief of mission, Ferdousi Shahriar, moderated the webinar.

Earlier in the morning, ambassador Shahidul Islam formally hoisted the national flag of Bangladesh in the chancery premises and placed a floral wreath at the bust of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.