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US Congress adopts resolution for Bangladesh’s Independence

Toronto, March 19: In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence, the United States of America’s Congress has adopted a resolution under the title, H. RES. 239 on March 16, 2021, in its First Session of the 117th Congress, which was submitted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and jointly co-sponsored by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Jimmy Gomez and Gregory W. Meeks.

It stated that Bengal in South Asia is home to an ancient civilization with a rich cultural and literary tradition and in 1947 partition of India created an East Bengal province, which became part of Pakistan, and in 1954, as part of the One-Unit program, East Bengal became East Pakistan. Then in December 1970, Pakistan held its first election, and despite East Pakistan winning a majority of seats in Parliament, the West Pakistan-based military leadership refused to cede power to the majority and instead imposed martial law in East Pakistan.

It further stated that on March 26, 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared Bangladesh’s independence from West Pakistan. Then a nine-month-long war that resulted in millions of displaced people and deaths, the Pakistani Army surrendered to Indian and Bangladeshi allied forces. On February 14, 1972, the late Senator Edward Kennedy at a speech at Dhaka University said, “The struggle of the people of Bangladesh . . . evokes the greatest memories of our past” and exemplifies a shared love of freedom with the American people.  Also, in August 2017, citing parallels between the displacements of Bengalis during the 1971 war, the Government of Bangladesh accepted more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Burma.

In the end, the resolution recognized the people of Bangladesh on the 50th anniversary of their independence, the historical significance of this milestone to those of Bangladeshi heritage, the courage of freedom fighters in the struggle for independence and democracy, support for the principles of democratic governance to which the people of Bangladesh are committed; and recognizes the contributions of Bangladesh for hosting Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Burma.

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