The historic speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the 29th UNGA received the highest tribute at a high-level commemorative event, organised jointly by Bangladesh High Commission and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London on Friday.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen graced the event as the chief guest.
Chaired by High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the United Kingdom and Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the IMO Saida Muna Tasneem, Secretary-General of IMO Kitack Lim spoke at the event as the guest of honour and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC as the special guest.
High Commissioners and Ambassadors who are Permanent Representatives to the IMO from India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and St Kitts & Nevis; and senior officials from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UKFDO) and Chief Executive of UK National Commission for UNESCO spoke at the event, also participated by a large number of expatriate Bangladeshis from the UK and Ireland.
Recalling Bangabandhu’s UNGA speech, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said, “Forty-six years ago on 25 September 1974, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his maiden speech in his native Bengali language at the 29th UNGA, placing multilateralism and global peace and prosperity at the centre of his foreign policy.”
“Forty-six years later as humanity faces the world’s greatest pandemic, Bangladesh, led by Bangabandhu’s visionary daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continues to pursue her father’s foreign policy placing our faith in the United Nations to overcome the contemporary global challenges,” he said.
Referring to the World Maritime Day 2020 that was observed on 24 September, the Foreign Minister said, “Like Bangabandhu’s aspirational foreign policy, his pragmatic maritime vision of 1972 continues to guide our deep and abiding commitment to the mission and vision of the IMO and our aspirations as a maritime nation.”
In the opening remark, High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem paid her profound tribute to the Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation and said, “Bangabandhu’s maiden speech at the UNGA continues to remain the “Magna Carta’ of Bangladesh’s multilateral diplomatic principles and practices that stand on the pillars of international peace and security, peaceful co-existence, a just international economic order, enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights as enshrined in the UDHR and the indomitable spirit of mankind to overcome the insurmountable odds”.
As Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the IMO, the High Commissioner commented that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s women seafarers and mariners are steering ocean-going vessels globally living up to gender equality in maritime aspiration of the IMO.
Under her direct guidance, the Bangladesh government took care of each and every seafarer during the Covid crisis and ensured their safe return to their home countries.
The High Commissioner expressed her deep sympathy for nearly 8000 seafarers around the world including Bangladesh’s seafarers who are currently stranded at sea due to Covid pandemic and urged upon IMO member states to grant access to Bangladesh’s seafarers to come onshore to be repatriated to their home country.
Congratulating the people of Bangladesh on the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dedicated his life to peace, freedom and justice of people of Bangladesh. He also lauded the leadership of Sheikh Hasina for building a strong maritime capability and credentials of Bangladesh since his joining the IMO.
In her remarks, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a visionary charismatic leader who dedicated his life to democracy, peace, freedom, human rights and justice those are the core values of the Commonwealth.”
Recalling Bangabandhu’s participation at the 1973 and 1975 Commonwealth summits, Patricia Scotland said the Commonwealth takes pride in the fact that it was the first international organisation that has embraced Bangabandhu and Bangladesh’s membership in 1972.
Chief Executive of UK National Commission for UNESCO James Bridge termed Bangabandhu’s UN speech as a historic record of enormous diplomacy by Bangabandhu between 1972 and 1974 to secure universal recognition for his newly independent country at the UN.
He also paid a tribute to Bangabandhu’s historic 7th March speech that the UNESCO has included as the world’s documentary heritage.
Head of South Asia Department of UKFDO Fergus Auld OBE said Bangladesh’s entry to the UN in 1974 was a moment of pride and an affirmation of the desire of the people of Bangladesh to play an active role on the global stage as a sovereign nation and was supported by the UK.
He lauded the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in building Bangladesh’s climate resilience and her important role as the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) to address the climate vulnerabilities of 48 countries at the highest climate risk.
Ambassadors and permanent representatives to the IMO from different regions all paid their profound tribute to Bangabandhu on the occasion of his Birth Centenary and the 46th anniversary of his speech at the UNGA.
The ambassadors and the permanent representatives include High Commissioner of India Gaitri Issar Kumar, Ambassador of the Netherlands Karel Van Oosterom, Ambassador of Japan Yasumasa Nagamine, Ambassador of Norway Wegger Strommen, High Commissioner of South Africa Nomatemba Gugulethu Pudnixia Olivia Tambo, High Commissioner of Kenya Caleb Manoa Esipisu, High Commissioner of St Kitts & Nevis Dr Levom Osaac, Permanent Representative to the IMO for Saudi Arabia Essam M. Alammari and Maritime Attaché for Malaysia Kanagalingam T. Selvarasah.