French President Emmanuel Macron has written a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the occasion of a photography exhibition on Bangladesh's liberation war of 1971.
Titled "Bangladesh 1971: Mourning and Morning", the solo exhibition by French photographer Marc Riboud began at the Liberation War Museum on Saturday, marking the fifty years of Bangladesh’s independence.
The French President greeted the Prime Minister on the occasion and said those photographs taken in December 1971 “soberly illustrate, with great humanity, the events that led to the independence of Bangladesh”.
“Marc Riboud had then spent a month with the “mukhti bahini”, the freedom fighters, and was one of the very first to enter Dhaka, freed on December 16th 1971,” read the letter.
“These unique pictures show the admirable courage of Bengali people defending their freedom, their language, their culture, responding to the call of the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rhaman.
“They also witness the interest of France and French people for a determined nation and a country full of promises, as André Malraux expressed right after the declaration of independence.
“I am pleased in that regard that this exhibition also contributes to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries that followed very closely the end of the war, as well as a never disproven relationship of trust and friendship,” read the letter.
The Alliance Française de Dhaka is also supporting the exhibition which will be ended on 16 November.
Visiting hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Sunday).
The exhibition is jointly curated by Lorène Durret and Mofidul Hoque.
The second phase of the exhibition will take place at Alliance Française de Dhaka in January 2022, according to the French embassy in Dhaka.
One of the first generation of Magnum photographers, French veteran photographer Marc Riboud was born in Saint-Genis-Laval, near Lyon, in 1923.
He shot his first photographs at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1937, using a tiny Vest Pocket Kodak given to him by his father for his 14th birthday.
In 1944, he joined the Vercors resistance. From 1945 to 1948, he studied engineering at Lyon's Ecole Centrale and began working. Three years later, he chose to pursue a career as a photographer.
His photo of a painter atop the Eiffel Tower was published in Life magazine in 1953. This was his first published work. Afterwards, he joined the Magnum Photos agency after being invited by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.
Bangladesh's independence struggle piqued his attention, and he arrived in Kolkata in late November 1971.
He journeyed inside to refugee camps and liberated zones. His expedition began at Sherpur, and after crossing the mighty Brahmaputra river, he witnessed the decisive battle of Jamalpur, which he extensively documented.
The majority of these are still unpublished to this day.
When the all-out Indo-Pakistan war broke out on 3 December, he entered Bangladesh with an advancing Indian army backed up by Bangladeshi freedom fighters.
He was one of the first photographers to enter Dhaka and capture the city's liberation with his camera.