Thursday, 26 February 2009

My invovement in the liberation war of Bangladesh

I got the commonwealth scholarship in 1971 to study in the department of Biochemistry in the McGill University for Ph.D. degree. But in 1971, Bangabandhu Shekh Mujib declared independence of Bangladesh in his historic 7 March address at the Suhardy Uddyan and that very night we formed the Bangladesh Association of Quebec probably the first Bangladesh Association in North America and we decided to take active part in the liberation war. I was the founder General Secretary and Dr ( at that time Mr.) Fazal Mohammad was the President. While most other Associations formed after 26th March were busy about lobbying with the government for relief and humanitarian help, we took a different strategy and got some link with the then liberation movement of Quebec and other North American left wing people. Believe it or not that helped a lot. I personally felt more comfortable with the civil society, dock union leaders and the journalists sympathetic to Bangladesh liberation. We decided to align with the opposition as we believed that being a close alley of the Pakistan lover USA, the government of Canada would not be of much help to us accept receiving the memorandum of the Bengaliu community. The officiual stand of Canada government was ' the matter is an internal affair of Bangladesh echoing US position. As the Secretary of the Association, I frequently came in the electronic media criticising the government for sidin with the genocide. I used to frequently threatened by the Pakistan Association. Many of the interesting incidents are fading away from my memory. A few I remember are as follows:

1. We invited the CNTU leader Santra ( appology for the mistake in spelling name of such a great leader) along with his dock union people to join our demonstration. The FLQ spontaneously rang us and wanted to join our procession.
About two days before the scheduled demonstration, a Canadian police car (RCMP) came in front of 3520 Lorne Avenue which was our residence and also the office of the Bangladesh Association of Quebec. I was alone in the flat. When I opened the door the officer asked 'Who is Naiyyum Choudhury?' I told him politelythat it was me. He told me to accompany him in his car being driven by another police man. I asked politely where he was taking me. He did not reply. I was little scared. I think it was a big police station as there were lot of police men around there. I entered a big room and one officer told me to sit down infront of a tape recorder. The first thing after taking my identity he said ' Do you think you can stop war in Bangladesh by creating a war in Canada? I politely said 'no, not at all. We are just making the democratic canadian people how the Pakistan army is causing brutality on our unarmed men and women killing, torturing, raping etc. He stopped me and said that the candians were well aware of this and he also contributed some money to the Bangladesh relief fund of some aid organization. I said that would not help our people who are fighting. We want the government to take a stand aginst the brutal Pakistani regime. Then he asked me why I invited Shatra, the CNTU leader to our procession and did I know that he breaks the windows of the American Embassy with bricks once he is there. I politely said that did not know. I knew that he was a respectable labour leader as the President of the CNTU. However I can ask him not to come to the demonstration refering to our dialogue. The officer then and there said 'no no'. But at the same time he was not happy with my answer. A bond paper containing something written on it was forwarded to me for signing. I asked what it was? The officer said that this a bond for taking responsibilty for reparing any damage, if any caused to the American Embassy during the protest demonstration. I again politely said that I was a commonwealth scholarship holder and I never have more than few dollars in my account. He can check in the Bank of Montreal near McGill campus where I was studying. Nor our Association mostly dominated by the students has any fund. This made the officer more angry and he said in a stern voice ' OK Gentleman you can go now, but we will see you tomorrow and be prepared for appropriate measures at our hand. I was really scared. When I came back to 2530 Lorne Avenue, I called other member of the Association and narrated what happened in the police station.
We decided to request Mr. Satra to be calm with his people during our demonostration. His reply was that he knew that we had been threatened by the police. However we should not worry. He will take care of the situation. Frankly speaking less people turned up at the demonstration, hardly 30-40 people. Two things happened during marching of our procession. We were surronded by heavy contingent of armed police two-three firebrigade cars, motor cycles etc. were follwing us. It look funny as the number of police was much more then the number of demonstrators. At one point a bus came and a ood number of Front for the Liberation of Quebec dropped from the bus and shouted Vive le Bangladesh, Vive le Quebec. We only said Vive le Bangladesh and waived at them.. The police rushed in and pushed them back to the bus. When we reched the American Embassy the situation turned tense. Police was highly alert. Mr. Santra made a very firy speech in french and evryone was so excited. I did not understand French. I was told that the Americans were the killers and Pakistan was an agent of America. He called upon the judges of Quebec to learn from Justice Morshed how not to take the oath of the Canadian Ministers in Quebec. At that time it came in the newspaper there that Justice Morshed refused to take oath of Tikka Khan as the Governor in the then East Pakistan.As I said earlier the FLQ was fighting for liberation of Quebec at that time. I remeer at that time in the night neews of the CBC ...more

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