June 21, 2019

Bangladesh 47th Independence Day celebration

Bangladesh’s Embassy in the Netherlands on Monday 26 March 2018 celebrated the country’s 47th Independence Day with the participation of high-level government officials, diplomats from many countries, friends of Bangladesh, the diaspora as well as a delegation from Chittagong on a mission in the Netherlands.

Speaking at the event, Bangladeshi Ambassador to the Netherlands H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Belal proudly announced that Bangladesh is doing well despite facing numerous challenges. A resume of Ambassador Belal’s remarks follows hereby.

“I welcome you all to the celebration of the 47thAnniversary of our Independence and National Day. On this day, we gained, indeed earned, our Independence, 47 years before, through a 9 months long bloody war of liberation under the leadership of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The war-torn country that begun its journey 47 years ago, is now seen as a “development surprise” internationally, in the comparable milieu of developing countries. Bangladesh stands for many innovations, solutions and accomplishments that have been replicated across the globe. Be it our microfinance or oral saline that saved millions of lives.

But in the wild west of media, the general impression of Bangladesh is of a resource-constrained, densely-populated, disaster-affected, less-governed land of 170 million people. Yet, defying all possible odds, Bangladesh, with a population, which is more than that of Russian Federation or a size which is less than the state of New York of USA, is set to graduate as a Middle Income Country by 2021. The World Bank has already elevated (in 2015) Bangladesh as a Lower Middle Income Country.

Bangladesh has made it to the global scene as the second largest Ready-Made-Garments manufacturing base in the world following China. Bangladesh is among the top five global agricultural producers (in rice-jute-vegetables-fruits-inland fisheries), a global leader in breeding new crop varieties.

We have made great leaps in primary health care, sanitation and gender equality: our life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, open defecation are better than peers who have much higher per capita income. We are on track to see our first satellite “Bangabandhu-1” in the orbit next month. We have highly innovative and responsible civil society institutions, including the largest NGO in the world BRAC. All these are the hallmarks of the “Bangladesh Surprise”.

Our per capita income has almost tripled over the last ten years and our foreign currency reserve has also for the first time crossed US$ 33 billion- the 2nd highest in South Asia. Bangladesh is among the ”next eleven’’ countries likely to emerge as economic successes and is listed in the ‘Emerging Five’ by Goldman Sachs and  JP Morgan respectively.

While we are transiting from MDGs to SDGs, it is worth recalling the fact that Bangladesh achieved the MDG 1, i.e. halving poverty five years ahead of time, with 20.5 million people rising out of poverty during the 1991-2010 period. 

This is more than the entire population of the Netherlands, by the way. In parallel, life expectancy, literacy rate and per capita food production have increased significantly. Progress was underpinned by strong economic growth, with 6 percent plus growth over the decade and reaching to 7.28 percent in 2016/2017. As a result, the world looks at Bangladesh as an example of best practices in mainstreaming SDGs into national plan with an effective SDGs Implementation Plan.

The World Economic Forum recently ranked Bangladesh first in gender equality among South Asia nations for the second consecutive year. While no country has eliminated the gender gap completely, Bangladesh has had a steady climb in the rankings, rising 23 places over the preceding year to No. 49 in the world.

The only female Muslim leader among the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, serves as a role model for women in the subcontinent. A recipient of the Mother Teresa Award and the UNESCO Peace Tree Award in recognition of her contributions to women’s education, Sheikh Hasina has long recognized that the future of her nation depends in large measure on the empowerment of women.

Therefore, it is no wonder how Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demonstrated unique courage and resolve to open our doors to the Rohingyas. President of United States of America Hon’ble Donald Trump wrote to our Prime Minister on the occasion of this year’s Bangladesh’s Independence Day.

I quote: “Your personal leadership has been critical to addressing the plight of the Rohingya who fled to safety in your country. I thank you for all you have done to assist these men, women and children in need,”

Therefore, it is no wonder why the world came to know our Prime Minister as “Mother of Humanity”. But we are not going to remain complacent till a durable solution of the problems of Rohingya population is worked out for the sake of humanity. We feel that perpetrators of crimes against humanity in the Rakhine State must be held accountable and be brought to justice in compliance with international laws to stop recurrence of such atrocities in the future. We know, there are people in this room, who can help the world to make a difference showing

Bangladesh enjoys excellent bilateral relations with the Netherlands. The Netherlands recognized Bangladesh right after our independence and since then it has been a strong development partner of Bangladesh. The official visit of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the Netherlands in the first week of November 2015 and the visit of Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as UNSG Envoy for Inclusive Finance, to Bangladesh in the third week of the same month will remain as milestones in our bilateral relations.

I now take the opportunity to congratulate the Bangladeshi diaspora living in the Netherlands for their contribution in promoting economic and business relations between our two friendly countries and also transfer of Dutch innovation and creativity to our motherland. I am confident that they would continue their efforts to strengthen the excellent ties of friendship and amity between our countries.

Finally, on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and all the Bangladeshis living in the Netherlands and on my own behalf, I would like to convey our sincere greetings and very best wishes for the long life and good health of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, Her Majesty Queen Máxima and for His Excellency Prime Minister Mark Rutte. I would also like to express our best wishes for the continued peace, progress and prosperity of the people of the Netherlands.

Long live Bangladesh-Netherlands friendship!


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