979Published on March 20, 2021
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has paid tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, describing him as a “person of principle” who dedicated his entire life for the people.
Speaking at a programme to celebrate Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh in Dhaka on Friday, the Sri Lankan premier also hailed his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina for her efforts to realise Bangabandhu’s dreams.
He said he joined the celebrations despite the COVID-19 challenges to express solidarity on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka.
The relations between the two countries are rooted back to millenniums, Rajapaksa said and added that Sri Lanka was also one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Bangladesh after independence.
“Bangabandhu was a person of principle who dedicated his entire life for the Bangali people, their language and their wellbeing,” the Sri Lankan prime minister said.
“He was determined to continue his freedom struggle until the creation of the new nation, Bangladesh, in 1971. Unfortunately, he could not live to realise the dreams he nurtured for his beloved country.”
“Despite huge setbacks, Bangladesh continues to flourish under your able leadership -- that’s the best honour in the name of your esteemed father,” the Sri Lanka prime minister said, addressing Hasina.
Rajapaksa recited parts of a poem by Rabindranath Tagore to remember Bangabandhu, the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free …
[Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action]
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Sheikh Hasina received Rajapaksa when the Sri Lankan prime minister arrived in Dhaka earlier in the day. He was accorded a red carpet reception at the airport.
Before joining the celebrations at the National Parade Ground, he visited the National Monument in Savar to pay his homage to the martyrs of Bangladesh's Liberation War.
“In this 21st century, with the great aspiration for Asian prosperity, our new generation needs to be aware of the countless sacrifices made by their forefathers to achieve freedom,” he said at the celebration later in the evening.
Quoting Bangabandhu, Rajapaksa said the objectives of economic transformation of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the eradication of poverty and achieving development goals.
Bangladesh’s proposal to promote blue economy in the Bay of Bengal continuously inspires “our approach on maritime affairs”, according to him.
Hailing Bangladesh as one of the key emerging economic power houses in the South Asia, Rajapaksa said it remains as an important trading and investment partner of Sri Lanka.