Conference held by Commonwealth Countries League

Syed Badrul Ahsan talks on Bangabandhu at the National Liberal Club in London

10 Jun 2017, 16:08

Online Desk

Commonwealth Countries League presents two talks on June 9, 2017 4:30pm to 7:30pm at The National Liberal Club, 1Whitehall Place SW1A 2HE. The speakers are Syed Badrul Ahsan and Elizabeth van der Valk.

Syed Badrul Ahsan is renowned journalist, writer and columnist from Bangladesh who has served in the Bangladesh High Commission as Minister for Press in London and has authored the book 'FROM REBEL TO FOUNDING FATHER Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’.

Ahsan's writings on political literature are widely read. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a remarkable man who in his youth was a follower of the All India Muslim League, yet he matured to become a significant contributor to the history of Bangladesh. He was driven by his belief that the Bengalis of Pakistan needed to return to their secular traditions. This challenging journey under his remarkable leadership brought significant obstacles in securing freedom and eventually sovereignty in 1971.

Another speaker, Elizabeth van der Valk will talk and show a film on 'Queen and Commonwealth’. With a particular focus on her legacy through the Queen's Commonwealth canopy, a pan Commonwealth initiative was launched at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which will create a network of forest conservation projects across the Commonwealth. This network of projects will not only conserve indigenous forests for future generations, it will form a living legacy that marks Her Majesty's Service as Head of the Commonwealth.

Speaking at a talk organized by the Commonwealth Countries’ League at the National Liberal Club in London on Friday, Syed Badrul Ahsan, associate editor of The Asian Age, senior columnist and author of the work ‘From Rebel to Founding Father: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’, reflected on the transformation of a young Mujib steeped in the pre-Partition two-nation politics of the All-India Muslim to a leader espousing the cause of Bengali nationalism within the parameters of the Pakistan state. Bangabandhu’s uncompromising politics, his courage of conviction and the innumerable times he went to prison, besides his leadership of the Bengali independence movement, were factors that underscored Ahsan’s speech.

Ahsan acquainted the audience with the circumstances in which the assassins of the Father of the Nation remained beyond justice through the notorious Indemnity Ordinance for twenty one years until the return of the Awami League to power in 1996. He also noted the fresh tragedy which followed Bangabandhu’s killing when four national leaders were murdered in the supposedly safe premises of prison in November 1975. Despite all attempts to airbrush him out of history, Bangabandhu has remained a pivotal figure in Bangladesh’s history, he said.

The politics of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman remains as relevant in Bangladesh today as it did during his lifetime. The political trajectory of the Father of the Nation is the history of an individual who was successful in his articulation of Bengali nationalism through his progression from the communal politics of the Muslim League to the oppositional aspirations of the Awami Muslim League to the secular ideals of the Awami League.

Focusing on social realities in Bangladesh at present, the journalist drew the attention of the audience to such realities as expanding women’s empowerment, growth in the economic sector and the state of democracy in the country. “Ours maybe a wobbly democracy, but the bigger truth is that since the ouster of the last military regime, we in Bangladesh have not permitted a return to dictatorship,” he said. In the course of his address, Ahsan enlightened the audience on the fact that in the just-concluded elections to Britain’s House of Commons, Tulip Siddiq, a granddaughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had been re-elected on a Labour Party ticket. For the audience, the news was a pleasant surprise.

During the question-answer session following his speech, Syed Badrul Ahsan dwelt on the perils faced by nationalist leaders in the Third World between the 1960s and 1970s. The dangers which confronted Bangabandhu and Tajuddin Ahmad, Chile’s Salvador Allende, Algeria’s Ben Bella and Pakistan’s Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in their times went a long way in destabilizing their nations, he noted.

Ahsan explained the background behind the writing of his biography of Bangabandhu and why he felt people abroad needed to be reacquainted with his historic role in Bangladesh’s history.