Eminent personalities at the unveiling of the book ‘Catalyst: In the wake of Great Bhola Cyclone.’

Inauguration of ‘Catalyst: In the wake of Great Bhola Cyclone’

The refugee crisis in 1971 is somewhat comparable to the Rohingya crisis in 2017. During the nine-month-long liberation war millions fled the country traversing mudroads and cropfields. The only difference is that the scale of the Rohingya crisis in Burma is now visible and has drawn global attention due to extensive media coverage. While in 1971, the repression on the Bengali population took a while to generate attention since media was not as robust as it is today. Julia Francis, who was involved in relief management in 71, said the above at the book launch event jointly organized by BNM and Shahitya Prokash, on October 9, 2017, at Poet Sufia Kamal auditorium, BNM.

Vice Chancellor of Asia Pacific University Jamilur Reza Chowdhury presided over the event. Liberation war organizers Dr. John Rohde and proprietor of Shahitya Prokash Mofidul Haque were present as discussant.

Director General of the National Museum Faizul Latif Chowdhury handing over a gift to Dr. John Rohde.

The book by Cornelia Rohde is entitled ‘Catalyst: In the wake of Great Bhola Cyclone’. The most devastating cyclone in history that struck Bhola, on November 12th, 1970, serves as the backdrop of the book. Cornelia was then resident in Dhaka with her husband and was working as cholera researcher. She initiated Help (Haliya Emergency Lifesaving project) to stand by the disaster-struck people. She keenly observed the political development of the country and remembers how following the massive election win by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1970 Pakistan’s ruling elite began to hatch conspiracy against him. She observed the developing political developments in the country from close quarters. She has woven all her experience into one large tapestry in this beautifully written book.

In his address, John Rohde said the relief work she was engaged in is one of the most memorable in history – the book may serve as a guideline for future relief operations. In his speech, Jamilur Reza Chowdhury said this book is a testimony to the events that led up to the liberation war and the relief works carried out by a group of foreigners.

Director General of the National Museum Faizul Latif Chowdhury presented the welcome speech at the programme.


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