Abu Sayeed Chowdhury

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Abu Sayeed Chowdhury
আবু সাঈদ চৌধুরী
Abu Sayeed Chowdhury at the office of the Vice-Chancellor of Dacca University, November 1970.png
41st Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Preceded byPieter Kooijmans
Succeeded byHéctor Charry-Samper
3rd Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
In office
August 1975 – November 1975[1]
PresidentSheikh Mujibur Rahman
Preceded byKamal Hossain
Succeeded byMuhammad Shamsul Haque
President of Bangladesh
In office
12 January 1972 – 24 December 1973[2]
Prime MinisterSheikh Mujibur Rahman
Preceded bySheikh Mujibur Rahman
Succeeded byMohammad Mohammadullah
1st Bangladesh High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
In office
1 August 1971 – 8 January 1972
PresidentSheikh Mujibur Rahman
Succeeded byS.A. Sultan
Vice Chancellor of the University of Dhaka
In office
2 December 1969 – 20 January 1972
Preceded byM Osman Ghani
Succeeded bySyed Sajjad Hussain
Personal details
Born(1921-01-31)31 January 1921
Kalihati Upazila, Tangail District, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died2 August 1987(1987-08-02) (aged 66)
London, England
Political partyAwami League
ParentAbdul Hamid Chowdhury

Abu Sayeed Chowdhury (31 January 1921 – 2 August 1987) was a jurist and the President of Bangladesh.[3] Besides that, he held the positions of the Chairmen of the United Nations Commission on Human rights, the vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh and the first Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Chowdhury was born on 31 January 1921 in a Zamindar family of Nagbari in Tangail District.[4] His father Abdul Hamid Chowdhury apart from being a Zamindar become the speaker of the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly later on in his life. He was given the title "Khan Bahadur" by the British Empire, a title which he later renounced to give his voice to the movement against British atrocities and the British Empire.[citation needed]

Chowdhury graduated in 1940 from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He obtained his master's and law degrees from University of Calcutta in 1942 and after the second world war he completed bar-at-law in London.[4]


Lord James, leader of the British Educational Survey Team at the office of Chowdhury (1970)

Chowdhury joined the Calcutta High Court Bar in 1947, and after the partition of India he came over to Dhaka and joined the Dhaka High Court Bar in 1948.[4] In 1960, he was appointed as the advocate general of East Pakistan. He was elevated to the post of Additional Judge of the Dhaka High Court on 7 July 1961 by the then Pakistani President Ayub Khan and was confirmed as judge of the Dhaka High Court after two years. He had been a member of the Constitution Commission (1960–61) and chairman of the Bengali Development Board (1963–1968).

Chowdhury was appointed as the vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka in 1969.[4] In 1971, while in Geneva he resigned from the post as a protest against the genocide in East Pakistan by the Pakistan army.[3] From Geneva he went to the UK and became the special envoy of the provisional Mujibnagar Government. An umbrella organisation, The Council for the People's Republic of Bangladesh in UK was formed on 24 April 1971 in Coventry, UK, by the expatriate Bengalis, and a five-member steering committee of the council was elected by them. He was the High Commissioner for the People's Republic of Bangladesh, London from 1 August 1971 to 8 January 1972.[5]

President of Bangladesh[edit]

After liberation, Chowdhury returned to Dhaka and was elected as President of Bangladesh on 12 January 1972. On 10 April 1973,[4] he was again elected as President of Bangladesh, and in the same year (December) he resigned and become special envoy for external relations with the rank of a minister. On 8 August 1975, he was included in the cabinet of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as minister of ports and shipping. After Rahman was assassinated, he became the minister for foreign affairs in the cabinet of President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad in August 1975, a position which he held till 7 November the same year.[4]

UN Committee[edit]

In 1978, Chowdhury was elected a member of the United Nations Sub-committee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.[4] In 1985, he was elected chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission.[3] He was honoured with the insignia of Deshikottam by Visva-Bharati University. Calcutta University awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Law.

Death and legacy[edit]

Chowdhury died of a heart attack in London on 2 August 1987 and was buried in his village, Nagbari of Tangail.[6]


Right after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Abu Sayeed Chowdhury joined the cabinet of the new government as the foreign minister and praised the mastermind of the assassination Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad by saying, "President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad believes in democracy and he wants to restore democratic atmosphere in the country."[7]


  • Probashe Muktijuddher Dinguli
  • Manobadhikar
  • Human Rights in the Twentieth Century
  • Muslim Family Law in the English Courts[8]


  1. ^ "List of Former Ministers/ Advisers". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 17 July 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Leaders of Bangladesh". Archived from the original on 28 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Death anniversary of Abu Sayeed Chowdhury today". The Daily Star. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Choudhury, Justice Abu Sayeed". In Islam, Sirajul; Haq, Enamul (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  5. ^ "List of the High Commissioner". High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, London. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, 66; Was President of Bangladesh". The New York Times. AP. 3 August 1987. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Who Said What After August 15". The Daily Star. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Abu Sayeed's birthday today". The Daily Star. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2017.

External links[edit]