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Welcome to Bangladesh Foundation

Dr. Fazlur R. Khan, the world renowned American structural-architectural engineer responsible for designing Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower) and John Hancock buildings in Chicago, among many others around the world, established Bangladesh Foundation (BF) as a tax exempt public charitable organization in America in 1971. A Board of Trustees comprising Mr. Syed Alley, Dr. Shamsul Huq, Dr. Zahurul Huq, Dr. Zillur R. Khan, Dr. Ralph Nicholas, Mrs. Marta Nicholas and Dr. Muhammad Yunus came into being under the leadership of Dr. Fazlur R. Khan for Bangladesh Foundation (BF). Dr. Fazlur Khan’s strategic support enabled Dr. Mohammad Yunus to start Grameen Bank (Village Bank) for which he received Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. BF went through two stages of development before accorded a tax deductible Public Charities status from IRS (USA).

In early 1971 Bangladesh Defense League was created to provide support to the Bangladesh Freedom Struggle by a three-pronged effort:

  1. Supplying communication gears to Freedom Fighters in different guerrilla sectors within Bangladesh,

  2. Mobilizing American public opinion for Bangladesh’s Struggle for Freedom, and

  3. Lobbying in the US Congress against Nixon Administration’s military assistance to Pakistan’s military regime headed by General Yahya Khan, who was using the American military hardware to massacre the Bengalis of East Pakistan.

 During the latter part of 1971 when the number of Bengali refugees fleeing across the border to escape the genocidal suppression of Pakistan’s army, Bangladesh Emergency Welfare Appeal was established in addition to Bangladesh Defense League.

 Strategies to Mobilize American Public Opinion
Basically three strategies were utilized to help mobilize American public opinion against Nixon-Kissinger’s support of General Yahya, even during his military crackdown of Bengalis of East Pakistan, which the US Consul General Archer Blood defined as “Selective Genocide” (See Archer K. Blood, The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoir of an American Diplomat, University Press of Bangladesh, 2012; Gary J. Bass, THE BLOOD TELEGRAM, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013; for an eye witness account of the massacre, see Zillur R. Khan, The Third World Charismat: Sheikh Mujib and the Struggle for Freedom, University Press Limited of Bangladesh, 1996, particularly the Introductory chapter of its 2nd Edition, 2015)

 The White House’s unconditional support of Pakistan’s military junta in 1971 was doubly unconscionable for just one reason. The leader of Bengalis, Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman and his party, Awami League, had won a landslide victory in a free and fair general election of 1970, securing a majority of seats in the Parliament of Pakistan (See Zillur R. Khan, The Third World Charismat…, for details about the general election and General Yahya’s indefinite postponement of the inaugural session of Parliament and Mujib’s non-cooperation-civil-disobedience movement against military rule and for restoration of Parliamentary Democracy in Pakistan. Not only President of the second largest democratic nation of the world declined to put any pressure on General Yahya to implement the results of general elections, Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger looked the other way during what US Consul General in East Pakistan termed as “Selective Genocide of Bengali  population of Pakistan).

 American Public Opinion Strategies
Strategy#1. Making Senators and Representaives in the US Congress aware of the massacre of Bengalis in East Pakistan by the Yahya junta using American weapons through eye-witness accounts from an American woman and her Bengali husband (Dr. Zillur R. Khan, now President of Bangladesh Foundation, USA), then an Associate Professor of Political Science of East Pakistan’s Dacca University, whose colleagues were killed by General Yahya’s soldiers after a brutal crackdown of unarmed Bengalis began at the midnight of March 25, 1971. The US Consul General Archer Blood saw the dead bodies of teachers on the morning of March 27, 1971, after military imposed general curfew was briefly lifted, when the mentioned Dacca University teacher managed to reach the Consul General’s US Flag flying lomosin passing by the University Teachers’ Quarters near Dacca’s Nilkhet area. He considered Blood as a tennis friend who often played tennis together at the Dacca Club, where many other foreignners used membership facilities. Blood got down from his official limosin and accompanied the University teacher to the particular site where bodies of teachers killed by Pakistani soldiers during the curfiew of March 26, 1971, were being covered with white shroud for burial.

During the latter part of 1971 when the number of Bengali refugees fleeing across the border to escape the genocidal suppression of Pakistan’s army, Bangladesh Defense League changed into Bangladesh Emergency Relief Fund.

Upon a successful completion of the Bengali struggle for freedom leading to the creation of the new nation of Bangladesh—a democratic secular Muslim majority nation and the eighth largest nation of the world, Bangladesh Relief Emergency Fund transformed into BANGLADESH FOUNDATION.

Dr. Zillur R. Khan, President of the Board of Trustees of the Bangladesh Foundation and Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin (please see “About US” for more information on Dr. Zillur Khan), may be contacted at zillurrkhan@gmail.com for more information on the Bangladesh Foundation and its activities. Furthermore, please visit the “Fund Requests/Proposal Submissions” tab to submit proposal outlines for foundation funds for particular charitable projects in Bangladesh.