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Bengal's sacrifice led to the Independence of USA.

AK Abdul  Momen

AK Abdul Momen

Wed, 3 Jul 24

The 4th of July is celebrated as the Independence Day of the United States of America. On that date in 1776, the leaders of the continental 13 colonies of America adopted the Declaration of Independence from the British dominion. The 4th of July was first celebrated on the 8th of July in Boston and Philadelphia in 1777.

The people of 13 colonies of America were upset with the British rule as it has been increasing taxes to pay for wars. During the late 1760s and early 1770s, the British had to fight two wars, one in the East in Bengal and the other in the West against the 13 American colonies. In order to run two wars, the British government was facing severe strain in managing funds. Therefore, it increased taxation in the colonies. But, the leaders of American colonies could not accept additional taxation, and therefore, they launched a movement of "No taxation without representation." When Townsend tax was imposed on tea that they used to get from Bengal via Great Britain, the American revolutionaries symbolically dumped Tea Chests in the Boston Harbor popularly known as the 'Boston Tea Party'.

As the British were finding difficulty to run two wars, Prime Minister William Pitt of England asked his Cabinet to come up with a solution to fund the wars. The Cabinet Committee recommended Prime Minister William Pitt to grant Independence to 13 American colonies and intensify their war efforts in Bengal. Their rationale was that on those days, the East India Company was making more money in India than that of all 13 American colonies, the West Indies, the Caribbean, and Canada combined. In fact, the British exchequer was receiving a revenue of around 400,000 pounds sterling per annum from all 13 American colonies, the West Indies, Caribbean, and Canada together. As against this, they were receiving 100 times more revenue from Bengal, nearly 40 million pounds sterling annually. Therefore, the Prime Minister decided in 1776 to grant Independence to American colonies and intensify their subjugation in Bengal.

The Americans honored Prime Minister William Pitt Jr. by naming its famous industrial city of iron as Pittsburgh. No wonder James Novak of Asia Foundation, an American scholar, opined that "Bengal's sacrifice resulted in the Independence of United States of America " (Novak, 1993, p.194-97)

After almost 200 years, in 1971, when Bengalees were fighting for their Independence, the American law-makers, Senators and Congressmen, American scholars, professors, doctors, and intellectuals including American diplomats supported the cause of the liberation of Bangladesh. The American diplomat stationed in Dhaka, Arthur K. Blood and his colleagues sent his famous Blood Telegram to the US government narrating the Pakistani massacre and atrocities. Harvard Professor John Edward Mason, Professor Marglin, and David Dorfman plus Professors Hanna and Gus Papaneck, those who were experts in Pakistan, stated in April 1971, and I quote, "emergence of independent Bangladesh will be a reality." The question is, at what cost, and at the cost of how many lives. Sooner, the US administration of Nixon-Kissinger realizes it. It's better, it's better for all.

Popular American singers and musicians John Harrison, Joan Baaz, Robi Sanker, et al. organized a Bangladesh Concert at the Madison Square garden in New York to raise public awareness and also funds for the refugees. Thousands of people echo them, Bangladesh, O! Bangladesh.

Although Nixon-Kissinger administration was adamant, and they violated all American national and international laws to support the Pakistani military junta to perpetuate its genocide in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), American lawmakers like Senator Edward M Kennedy, Sen. Sexbe, Senator Walter Mondale, Richard Reid, Congressman Gallagher, et al. brought one after another bills to block the US weapons' shipment to Pakistan. The longshore men and women of Baltimore and Philadelphia blocked the passage of ships loaded with weapons for Pakistan with their hundreds of small boats and canopies. We, as Bangladeshis, are proud of them. We are grateful to all of them.

The good news is, although the US administration opposed the Independence of Bangladesh but once we got our victory on 16th December 1971, the US government soon recognized us, and they supported our bid for the UN membership 15 times out of 16 (once Abstained). Not only that, the USA was one of the largest donors to Bangladesh immediately after our independence. Now, our relationship with the USA is multifaceted, and they are our largest importer of RMG and also the largest investor. We share the same values and principles of democracy, human rights, freedom of religion, speech, and media just like the Americans. Bangladesh is the only country in the world that sacrificed 3 million lives in 1971 in order to establish democracy, justice, human rights, and human dignity.

While Americans are celebrating the 4th of July, their Independence Day, we also join them for better, more humane, and more peaceful world for all.

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