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Dhaka-Washington ties to get stronger

Majority US people sided with Bangladesh in 1971: Ted Kennedy


By BSS
Published : 31 Oct 2022 10:23 PM | Updated : 01 Nov 2022 06:15 PM
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While recalling his father Edward M. Kennedy’s moral stand towards right cause of Bangladesh’s freedom, his son Ted Kennedy on Monday said most American people supported the struggle of the Bangladesh’s independence in 1971 despite 

the then US administration’s tilled down policy towards Pakistan.   

“I think, it’s important for you all to know that vast majority of the people of US were on your (Bangladesh) side during the struggle of the (your) independence,” he said while delivering a landmark speech at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban at Dhaka University in the capital.  

Edward (Ted) M Kennedy Jr, also nephew of late US President John F. Kennedy said that the Kennedy family would always support the democracy and prosperity of Bangladesh to build further stronger ties between Washington and Dhaka.

"Kennedy family feels special kinship with the people of Bangladesh who suffered bloodshed," he said who arrived here with his family members on Saturday for a weeklong visit marking the 50 years Bangladesh-US bilateral ties.    

Ted's father, the then US senator Edward M Kennedy took a bold stance against the genocide committed by Pakistan during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 despite the US government's tilled down foreign policy towards West Pakistan.

The Pakistan military administration under General Yahya Khan tried to suppress information regarding the genocide in Bangladesh launched on the night of March 25, 1971.

But Edward Kennedy exposed the brutality of the Pakistani occupation forces to the world communities after his visit to the refugee camps in India in August 1971.

After returning back from the refugee camps, the junior Kennedy said his father criticized the then Nixon administration to support Pakistan and called upon that “America to be the right side (in favour of Bangladesh independence) of the history”.

Ted said that in his report his father said that “American support of Islamabad is nothing short of complicity in human and political tragedy of (the then) East Bengal”

In 1972, Edward Kennedy planted a banyan tree at the famous "Bottola" on the Dhaka University campus during his visit to the newly born Bangladesh.

Ted Kennedy said visiting this banyan tree today was very “powerful and emotional” experience to him as he had been heard about the story of the tree in his entire life from his father.

“Today, I felt my father’s presence when I was underneath the tree,” he said emotionally.  

Ted said his father planted the banyan tree on the same spot where the Pakistan army blew the old banyan tree in 1971 as the tree was famous for students’ demonstration.

“50 years later, the tree  still stands and it is a beacon of resilience and beacon of hope, I thing the US-Bangladesh partnership is kind of like this tree,” he said.

Ted said Bangladesh and US are the key partner in the world while the US applauded Dhaka’s contribution on world peace and generosity to accommodate  such numbers of forcibly displaced Rohingya people.

“You know while some governments do not yet recognize you, the people of the world do recognize you,“ Ted Kennedy said quoting his father’s speech that he delivered in Dhaka in 1972,

“The real foreign policy of America is citizen to citizen, friend to friend, people to people, foreign bonds of brotherhood that no tyranny can diminish. For in a sense, we are all Bangladeshis, we are all Americans and we all share the great alliance of humanity,” he quoted his father.

He said his father’s foreign policy was based on concept of humanitarianism  that Henry Kissinger found “so difficult to try understand”. “Humanitarianism  is the cornerstone of my father’s view of foreign policy,” he added.

The Ted Kennedy put emphasis on free press as it is a must for functional democracy.    

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and Dhaka University Vice -Chancellor Prof Dr Akhtaruzzaman also spoke.

The US envoy also said the American people supported Bangladesh’s independence war while the then Nixon administration supported Pakistan on the issue.

The then US consul general in Dhaka Archer Blood also took stand the American policy wrote telegrams to Washington DC through the official channel about the brutalities of Pakistani authorities.

He said, it showed that people in the US can speak freely and being critical of their own administration.

The US Embassy in Dhaka termed the visit as "historic" while Edward M. Kennedy is accompanying family members included Dr. Katherine "Kiki" Kennedy (wife), Dr. Kiley Kennedy (daughter), Teddy Kennedy (son), Grace Kennedy Allen (niece), and Max Allen (nephew).

 A leading healthcare regulatory attorney for over 20 years, Ted helps healthcare clients identify, understand, and navigate the potential business impacts of key federal and state legislative, regulatory, and reimbursement changes.   

He is also a staunch advocate for the self-determination and civil rights of individuals with disabilities.