“To the people of Bangladesh” | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:44 PM, March 26, 2018

“To the people of Bangladesh”

This is an abridged version of the English translation of an address by Mr Tajuddin Ahmad, Prime Minister in Bangladesh's government-in-exile, on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh headed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, broadcast by Swadhin Bangladesh Betar Kendra, April 11, 1971. The speech from which the excerpt has been taken was originally published in Bangladesh Documents.

Heroic and brave brothers and sisters of Independent Bangla Desh. In the name of your President, Bangla Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangla Desh, we salute you and pay homage to the departed souls of the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives in defence of their motherland. They will shine in our memory as long as Bangla Desh exists, as long as a single citizen of Bangla Desh lives. Since the proclamation of independence by your leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, after General Yahya had on the midnight of 25th March ordered his Army to commit genocide on the peace-loving people of Bangla Desh, you have joined the ranks of the immortals amongst the freedom fighters of history. Your epic resistance against the colonial army of occupation from West Pakistan is an inspiration to the freedom-loving peoples of the world. Each day of struggle adds a new and glorious page in the saga of our liberation struggle. Each martyr wins us a thousand friends in the world who cannot but salute your heroism.

By your determination and ability to withstand the murderous onslaught of Yahya's gang of professional killers you have shown that a new Bengali Nation has been born amidst the ruins of the battlefield. To the world we were a peace-loving people, friendly, human, fond of music and dance, imbued with an awareness of culture and beauty, war and violence were thought to be foreign to our nature. But today whilst we remain true to our heritage, Bengalis have shown that they are also a warrior people, with an unconquerable will and courage to face an aggressor who enjoys overwhelming superiority in the use of weapons.

Had you failed to resist this first onslaught, the newly independent Republic of Bangla Desh may have gone under and the world may have had to wait many years before resistance raised its head once more. But you faced their tanks and bombers with your bare hands armed only with faith in the cause of a free Bangla Desh. Today you have put the murderous enemy on the defensive. Most of Bangla Desh is Liberated. The world's Press roams at will in Free Bangla Desh and reports your victories to an amazed and now admiring world. As news of the resistance spreads throughout Bangla Desh, young men and women are coming forward in their thousands to join the fight for freedom.

Today a mighty army is being formed around the nucleus of professional soldiers from the Bengal Regiment and E.P.R. who have rallied to the cause of the liberation struggle. These have been joined by the Police, Ansars and Mujahids and now by thousands of Awami League and other volunteers and are being trained into a fighting force ready to use the captured weapons from the defeated West Pakistani mercenaries and fresh arms being purchased from funds collected by our Bengali Brothers overseas.

Whist humanitarian aid is welcome from all sources it must be remembered that what we need above all is arms to repel the aggressor from the sacred soil of Bangla Desh. Today our civilian population is under-equipped and outgunned by the modern mechanised army of occupation which has been equipped with the latest weapons from the arsenal of the big powers. We appeal to these powers to suspend all further arms deliveries to this army of murderers. These weapons were given for defence against external aggression and not to commit wanton murder on innocent women and children in Bangla Desh. Much of those weapons have been paid for by the blood and sweat of the toiling masses of Bangla Desh who are now being butchered in their thousands by these same weapons. We appeal to these powers to not only suspend all arms deliveries but also insist that these weapons of death be turned away from the task of suppressing the aspirations of 75 million Bangalis.

The military part of the struggle is however only one aspect. The war for survival must also go on within Bangla Desh. We therefore invite all administrators, technicians and intellectuals and any other person anxious to join in the liberation struggle to come to the liberated areas and put their services at the disposal of the Government of Bangla Desh.

There should be no collaboration with the army of occupation. If any self-styled leader thinks that he can, under the cover of Martial Law, rise up from the political grave where he was consigned by the 75 million people on 7th December, 1970, he does so at his peril. There can be no Quislings in Bangla Desh and those who are so blinded by fear or treachery to play this role will be destroyed by the people themselves.

There can now be no doubt about the outcome of the final struggle. Victory is ours, earned by our own courage and sacrifice. This is now being gradually realised by the enemy. They thought it would be an easy victory and that Bengalis would be quickly intimidated by the sight of modern weapons. That we should withstand their murderous attack and now fight back has upset their well laid plans. Cut them off from all sources of foodstuffs. With all communications with their headquarters in Dacca cut off by the people, their sole source for supplies and reinforcements is through airdrops. These are facing exhaustion due to lack of aviation fuel and the coming of the Norwester season which makes flying dangerous. They face gradual isolation in a hostile sea which threatens to overrun them any day and signs of demoralisation and panic are visible in their desperate attempts to use planes to cause needless destruction in the liberated areas.

The world community is also beginning to sit up and take notice of this major conflagration raging in the world's eighth largest country—the People's Republic of Bangla Desh. No longer do the Islamabad Government's lies about enforcing law and order in Dacca and the attainment of normalcy carry any conviction. As journalists and private citizens escape from the horrors of war-ravaged Bangla Desh, they bring tales of war, atrocity, massacre, loot and terror inflicted by Yahya's murderous hordes. As journalists travel freely in the liberated regions they bear witness to the slaughter and destruction and confirm the heroic resistance of the people of Bangla Desh.

Already the U.S.S.R and India have taken notice of the genocide and the U.S.S.R. has urged Pakistan to desist from its acts of repression. Even Britain has taken cognisance of the conflagration whist Ceylon and Burma have responded to world opinion by refusing refuelling rights to Pakistani planes carrying their cargo of death to Dacca.

Whilst there is still talk in some countries of this being an internal affair of Pakistan, it is becoming evident that the massacre of 75 million people and the attempt to suppress their struggle for freedom are now an international issue of major dimensions which threatens the consciences as much as the peace of the region.

We appeal to our beleaguered brothers and sisters in the occupied territories who live day and night under the shadow of death and dishonour from the savages who call themselves the Pakistan Army to take courage and have faith in our cause and the strength of the Liberation Army. Those who wish to serve us, come out and join the struggle. Those who must of necessity stay on, we send a message of hope and inspiration that victory will be ours, Inshallah.

The battle will not be long because our strength multiplies daily as our plight gets wider recognition in the world. But we can expect much blood to be shed by these butchers and much wanton destruction and pillage before they are wiped out by the Liberation Army.

We must, therefore, look ahead to the task of reconstruction and the rebuilding of a new Bangla Desh on the ruins of East Pakistan.

We must in this task never forget that this has been a people's war in the truest sense of the word and that had it not been for the courage, patriotism and faith of the common man in the cause of a Free Bangla Desh we would never be able to enjoy the fruits of independence. We must therefore build a new world for the toiling masses of Bangla Desh, free from exploitation of man by man. In this new world, we promise freedom from hunger, disease, illiteracy and unemployment. To this task, we want to mobilise the unlimited energy and dedication of 75 million Bangalis who have secured our freedom with their blood and must now rebuild Bangla Desh with their sweat, into a modern, democratic society of and for the people, based on the principles of social justice and equality.

“Joi Bangla”

“Joi Independent Bangla Desh”

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