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In the remembrance of Mr. W.A.S. Ouderland, Bir Pratik - Nazrul Islam

Your eternal bed is covered with layers of flowers You are in our minds and will remain as ever as ours.

In the remembrance of Mr. W.A.S. Ouderland, Bir Pratik
The Bangladesh Freedom Fighter

Nazrul Islam, Perth Australia

On the eve of the 40th Anniversary of the victory of Bangladesh liberation war this little note is to pay tribute to Mr W.A.S. Ouderland BP and other freedom fighters by reflecting on recent memories.

There are some people who, irrespective of their belief and nationality put their lives at risk byfighting for the people of another nation to establish justice, freedom and peace. They are extraordinary people and Mr Wilhelmus A.S. Ouderland was one of them. He collected military intelligence, gave training and fought side by side with Bangladesh freedom fighters to liberate the nation from the brutal and repressive Pakistani military regime.

Mr Ouderland was the only foreigner awarded the gallantry Bir Pratik award from the Bangladesh government immediately after independence. He remained in Bangladesh till 1978 and was transferred to Australia thereafter. He later settled in Perth, Western Australia and died after prolonged ailment at the age of 84 in a hospital in Perth on 18th May 2001. His love and concern for Bangladesh was undiminished until his last days.

Living in Perth, I had the opportunity to attend his funeral and salute him goodbye with full dignity and honour by wrapping his coffin with the Bangladesh flag. Also, 10 years later on 28th October 2011 I was honoured to assist the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to pay homage to him by placing a floral wreath on his grave.

On both the occasions’ members of the Bangladeshi community living in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne along with many dignitaries including the Bangladesh High Commissioner in Canberra, the Honorary Consul General and senior journalists from Bangladesh media were present.

The Bangladesh-Australia Association of Western Australia (BAAWA) took active role in organising the events by having full support from a few freedom fighters living in Australia.

It is now more than 10 years since Mr. Ouderland BP was laid to his final rest. He has left behind his beloved wife Maria (who later joined and buried next to him), the only daughter Anne Hamilton, grand and grand-grand children, and many friends. The family members are very gentle down to earth persons and prefer privacy. For generations, millions of freedom loving Bangladeshis will remember him from the bottom of their hearts. May the Almighty bestow His peace and mercy upon him in his eternal life.

Reflecting over the last forty years of liberation, Bangladesh has gone through many ups and downs, pro liberation forces got derailed, democracy was crashed, anti liberation forces took control and switch happened between ‘Joy Bangla’ and ‘Bangladesh Zindabad’. Even attempts were made to distort the nation’s proud history of the liberation war. Remembrance of the victorious war of liberation and the heroes like Mr Ouderland, will inspire future generations to keep the leadership on right track, maintain our proud history and freedom and provide economic liberation for millions. In this respect, the tireless effort and dedication of Mr Kamrul Ahsan Khan in Canberra is remarkable. I admire his effort.