Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and former British Prime Minister Lord Harold Wilson were among the 69 'foreign friends' honoured by Bangladesh on Sunday for their contribution to the country's struggle for freedom in 1971.
The award ceremony began at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre around 10:00am with the screening of a documentary on the Liberation War. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present at the ceremony.
Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan introduced the foreign friends who received the awards. This is the sixth phase of the awards given out to 'foreign friends', a process that began after the current Awami League government was elected to power.
The President has been giving out these awards in the previous phases, but since Zillur Rahman died recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the ceremony as chief guest and handed over the honours.
This time, 203 foreign friends were invited to receive the awards, but only 69 could attend or were represented by someone close to them.
Friends from Cuba, United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Japan, the United States, Australia and Sweden have been awarded in two categories -- ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ and ‘Liberation War Honour’.
Cuban revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro and former British Prime Minister Lord Harold Wilson have been awarded ‘Liberation War Honour’. Delegates for now retired Castro and two-time British Minister Wilson received the honours.
Wilson died in 1995.
Others including former Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu have been awarded ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.
The highest honour was awarded to former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in July 25 last year. Her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi accepted the honour on her behalf.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was awarded ‘Liberation War Honour’ on Mar 5 this year.
In the second phase of the awards, 83 foreign individuals were awarded ‘Liberation War Honour’ and ‘Friends of Liberation War’ on Mar 27 last year.
In the third phase in Oct 20 last year, 61 were awarded for their contributions during 1971.
And in the fourth phase, 60 foreign friends were awarded on Dec 15.