Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision became a reality as the founding father of Bangladesh put his people first.
“And as we face some of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, we – leaders and citizens – must do the same,” he said in a pre-recorded video message, marking the birth centenary of Bangabandhu as well as the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and British journalist Sir Mark Tully also sent pre-recorded video messages, which were played on the first day of the 10-day programme on Wednesday at the National Parade Square in Dhaka.
Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, his wife Rashida Khanam, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana joined the event, along with visiting Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his spouse Fazna Ahmed.
Trudeau said it’s a time for reflection and celebration. “We reflect upon the legacy of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – 100 years after his birth – and celebrate 50 years of independence. And in so doing, we are reminded of the power that individuals bring to shape lasting change.”
Together, the Canadian Prime Minister said, “we can build a more resilient and better world for generations to come”.
“I want to thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the invitation and the opportunity to help mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I also want to congratulate everyone on 50 years of an independent Bangladesh, something that we’re able to celebrate today because of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision for an independent and democratic country – one that was built on his love for its people,” he said.
The Canadian Prime Minister said he got the chance to first visit Bangladesh as a child in 1983 with his father Pierre Trudeau — who was the prime minister of Canada then. “At that time, my father and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had already forged a strong relationship. And that was rooted in Canada’s early support for an independent Bangladesh.”
Since then, he said the two countries have maintained a lasting bond based on strong people-to-people ties and common interests. “But Bangladesh is much different today than when I first visited with my father. Over the past 50 years, your country has made incredible progress,” Trudeau said.
“Bangladesh has spurred economic growth, reduced poverty, increased access to education and health resources, and have built new opportunities for its people. Bangladesh has gone through a remarkable economic and social transformation, and Canada has been here as a partner every step of the way,” he said.
Trudeau said that Canada has contributed to Bangladesh’s growth and supported key areas of development, including women’s economic empowerment, skills for youth, and children’s health and education. “We are committed to continuing that work.”
He said the two countries will work together to help meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable and to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
“That includes dealing with the health and economic impacts of the global covid-19 pandemic, making sure that everyone has access to a safe and effective vaccine, and continuing to work alongside one another to fight climate change, advance peacekeeping, support the rights of women and girls, and build a better world for everyone,” he said.