A Message from Mirza Shamsuzzaman, Former High Commissioner to Australia, Adviser Ouderland memorial committee

by Priyo Australia | March 12, 2008 9:14 am

Ouderland Memorial Committee in Canberra

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Assalamu Alaikum and Good afternoon,

First of all please allow me to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the organisers of todays event, the Ouderland Memorial Committee in Canberra, for inviting me to say a few words in Memory of Late W A S Ouderland, Bir Pratick. Sadly Mr. Ouderland died on 18 May 2001. The Government of Bangladesh accorded state honour to the funeral of Mr. Ouderland in deference to the exceptional role that he played in our Liberation War in 1971. We paid our last respects to the departed soul by way of draping his coffin with the Bangladesh flag during the funeral rites.

Our Hon’ble former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister sent condolence messeges to Mrs. Ouderland. I attended the funeral services held in Perth, Western Australia to pay my last respects on behalf of the people and Government of Bangladesh.

Allmost all of you are aware about the glorious role-played by Late Mr. Ouderland in our liberation struggle. For the benefit of those who are not so aware about his exploits I would like to mention in brief that Late Mr. Ouderland being stationed in Dhaka as the Area Manager of a multinatinal company was able to witness the inhuman atrocities that were unleashed by the Pakistan Armed Forces over the unarmed civilian population of Bangladesh in 1971. As a veteran underground freedom fighter in the Dutch Army during the 2nd World War he felt that history was being repeated and as such he felt indignant and thought that he had a role to play in this uneven match. Being a foreigner he had an access to the Pak-Army field commanders in the area and as such became aware about the plans of the Pak forces that was stationed in the area. He also took extensive photographs of the carnage that was being perpetrated by the Pak Army. He passed on these information and documentary evidence to the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters and the International Community.

Later he sent his family home and actively joined the liberation struggle. Needless to mention that this was very very brave thing to do because if the ruthless Pak-Army had even got the hint of what he was up to he would have been summarily shot on the spot. Whatever action he took during those fateful days was because of the deep love and affection that he felt for the Bengali people. He was therefore a humanist par-excellence.

I firmly believe that as long as the Bengali nation would survive on the face of this earth, the name of late Mr. Ouderland would be written in the annals of Bangladesh history in golden letters. Today late Mr. Ouderland has become a household name in Bangladesh by being the lone foreign national to join our liberation war and to be awarded the gallantry award of Bir Pratick for his indomitable courage and valour.

Australia recognized Bangladesh on 31st January, 1972, one of the first few countries to do so. Since then Australia-Bangladesh have enjoyed excellent relations bilaterally, regionally, internationally and as members of the Commonwealth. Late Mr. Ouderland has cemented this relationship even further. He was the lone foreign national, an Australian, who actively took part in our Liberation struggle and was given a gallantry award for doing so. We can never exaggerate the contribution and the indelible impression he has left in the psyche of the people of Bangladesh during his lifetime and now for generations to come. We are a people who never forget any good deed done to us. This is the reason why the ethnic Bangladeshi Australians has thought it fit to commemorate Late Mr. Ouderland in a befitting manner. In Bangladesh steps are being taken to immortalize Mr. Ouderland’s name in various ways. The Museum dedicated to the Freedom Fighters in Bangladesh is in the process of opening a Wing in honour of Mr. Ouderland. In our High Commission in Canberra we have a Library in his name. However, with a view to giving due honour to Late Mr. Ouderland as well as to immortalize Bangladesh-Australia friendship for eons to come I would wonder if the friendly Government of Australia may consider to erect a bust of Late Mr. Ouderland at a convenient spot, say the War Museum or the National Museum of Australia in Canberra or some such spot in Perth, Western Australia.

Once again I wish the Ouderland Memorial Committee in Canberra my heartfelt thanks for organizing today’s event and giving me the opportunity to say a few words in honour of our hero Late Mr Ouderland Bir Pratik. Thank you all.

Mirza_shamizzaman_674672142.jpgMirza Shamsuzzaman

Former High Commissionar to Australia

Adviser Ouderland memorial committee

Member Public Service Commission
People republic of Bangladesh

Source URL: https://priyoaustralia.com.au/articles/2008/a-message-from-mirza-shamsuzzaman-former-high-commissioner-to-australia-adviser-ouderland-memorial-committee/