Lucy Halt, a forgotten friend of Bangladesh


Lucy Helen Francis Halt came to then East Pakistan in 1950, aged just 20, and stayed back due to her love for the people of this region PHOTO/Dhaka Tribune

Lucy Helen Francis Halt was honored along with 39 other freedom fighters at a ceremony marking the Victory Day by Barisal Metropolitan Police this year.

Soon after the birth of Bangladesh, people came to know about the heroic and sometimes risky stand taken by foreigners who defied threats from Pakistani forces.

These brave individuals wholeheartedly supported the people of Bangladesh and extended their help to the freedom fighters and people who needed medicine, food and shelter during the Liberation War of 1971.

But what about a British national who had no previous interaction with people from Bangladesh before? Would such an individual risk her own life to support the people of a country she hardly knew? Most of the time, the likely answer will be in the negative. But for Lucy Halt from the UK, this was not the case.

During the Liberation War, she worked in Jessore’s Fatema Hospital to treat injured freedom fighters and the common people. Through her letters which she sent to her mother and sister back home, she informed them about the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani army during the war and tried to gather public sympathy for the people of Bangladesh. She also resisted pressure from her family and friends to go back to the UK. In her letters, she also praised Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his wife.

She is still in possession of a letter signed by Sheikh Rehana dated August 20, 1973. Lucy did not show the letters which she had in her possession to anyone for 47 years.

Her contributions were not recorded officially anywhere. She did not get any award for her efforts either.

However, she is facing difficulties to spend Tk38,000 annually to renew her visa.

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