Wali-ur Rahman went to Switzerland in 1969 to join the Pakistan Embassy in Bern. In 1971, he resigned from the Government of Pakistan in protest against the Atrocities perpetrated by the Pakistan troops in former East Pakistan.
What did you do after the Pakistani troops invaded Bangladesh in 1971?
I declared my allegiance to the Government of Bangladesh in exile in 1971 and shifted to Geneva. The apartment at 7, Rue Robert De Traz, Rue Florissant, Rive Gauche, was both my residence and the Bangladesh mission for over nine months.
So, you sought political asylum in Switzerland?
Yes. I was given political asylum by the Swiss Federal Government without much hassle. The Foreign Minister Mr. Pierre Graber and head of the Federal Immigration Department, Mr. Hans Momenthaler was particularly helpful to me and my family. During the war of liberation, the Swiss people and the Government showed unprecedented solidarity with the struggling people of Bangladesh. The German part, Italian part and the French region all got together in support of the cause of the people of Bangladesh. Most importantly, vital support was provided by the Swiss Red Cross, The League of Red Cross Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Caritas.
Do you remember other individuals or institutions which supported Bangladesh's cause?
The Swiss Radio, Television and Press came out in full support to our cause, the cause of the Bengalee freedom. The name of a few persons will ever remain in the history of Swiss-Bangladesh relations. Dr. Victor Umbricht, Director, Ciba-Geigy and adviser to the Federal Government and Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General, was of crucial help to us. In addition Mr. Edmund Kaiser of Terre Des Hommes, Jean Ziegler, Member of Parliament and President of the Pro-Bangladesh movement in Switzerland made invaluable contribution to our cause. The list goes on.
What was your most emotional moment in Switzerland during the war of Bangladesh's independence?
When I became a refugee, it was an uncanny feeling, a refugee who did not yet have a country, the country we are fighting for. At one point in November, 1971, I was invited to the Plaza before the Swiss Parliament, as a guest to the pro-Bangladesh rally, organized and attended by men, women, young boys, girls and children. I was moved. I cried when the children sang our national anthem and held Bangladesh flag in their hands.