London mission launches ‘Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award’

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the January 8 visit of Bangabandhu to London upon release from Pakistani incarceration, to honour the value-based friendship between the two countries, the Bangladesh High Commission in UK has launched the Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award.

This was announced Wednesday by High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem.

The award will be given to those who make extraordinary contributions in promoting Bangladesh-UK friendship.

The Bangladesh high commissioner also announced the formation of an “8 January Foundation” to promote the significance of January 8 among younger people.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said Bangabandhu’s maiden visit to the UK in 1972 as the president of Bangladesh bears an unparalleled historic, geostrategic and diplomatic significance in the robust Bangladesh-UK diplomatic ties of 2022 and beyond.

The foreign minister thanked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for recognising Bangabandhu’s January 8 visit to the UK and Downing Street as instrumental in forging a friendship between Bangladesh and the UK.

Bangladesh High Commission, London commemorated the 50th anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s maiden visit to the UK at the high-profile event “Bangabandhu in Britain: The Historic 8 January.”

British ministers, cross-party senior parliamentarians, diplomats, academics and eminent members of the British-Bangladeshi community paid rich tributes to Bangabandhu and highlighted the diplomatic and geopolitical significance of this historic visit.

Dr Momen graced the event as the chief guest while UK Conservative Party Chairman and Minister Oliver Dowden was the guest of honour and Minister of State and Economic Secretary to Treasury Department John Glen was the special guest.

Chairman of Labour party Anneliese Dodds, Liberal Democrat Group Leader at the House of Lords Lord Newby, Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Bob Blackman, and Chair of House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat spoke, representing Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democratic parties.

Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, Director for India and Indian Ocean Directorate at the UK FCDO Ben Mellor and High Commissioner of India to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar spoke as special guests.

Eminent British-Bangladeshi Community member Syed Sajidur Rahman Faruk also spoke.

Oliver Dowden called Bangabandhu’s January 8 visit to the UK and meeting with Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath a milestone in establishing diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the UK, adding: “It was a powerful symbol of the deep and enduring bonds between the UK and Bangladesh bound by kinship, culture, and shared prosperity.”

John Glen said Sheikh Mujib’s maiden visit to the UK 50 years ago and his meeting with Edward Heath paved the way for a value-based relationship between the two countries.

Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds said Labour Prime Minister Sir Herold Wilson met Bangabandhu during his maiden UK visit, and later when he came to London and maintained a close relationship with him until his assassination in 1975.

She mentioned that Herold Wilson described Bangabandhu’s killing as a personal loss.

Lord Newby, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, praised Bangladesh’s astounding socio-economic progress and said future relations between the UK and Bangladesh should be based on shared prosperity.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, said the meeting between Sir Edward Heath and Bangabandhu marked the beginning of a close relationship between the peoples and governments of the two countries.

Patricia Scotland said: “The Commonwealth was the first major international organisation that independent Bangladesh joined, and Bangabandhu’s values matched those of the Commonwealth.”

Indian High Commissioner Gaitri Issar Kumar said: “Bangabandhu continues to be regarded by the people of India as a charismatic and visionary leader, and it is in this spirit that we honour his legacy.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh