Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK SaidaMunaTasneem has said there are strong documentary and eyewitness evidence that genocide was committed on Bangladeshi soil in 1971, yet the world has failed to recognise it.
She made the remarks at a special discussion, titled ‘1971 Bangladesh Genocide and International Recognition’.
Observing the Genocide Day (March 25), Bangladesh High Commission in London hosted the discussion at the ‘Bangabandhu Lounge’ of the mission. Eminent Bangladeshi journalist and columnist Syed Badrul Ahsan delivered the keynote speech at the event.
The Bangladesh high commissioner cited several international media reports on the genocide, including Anthony Mascarenhas' lead article in the Sunday Times headlined "Genocide" and similar reports on mass atrocities by The Telegraph and BBC that shocked the world and prompted global leaders to act.
The envoy said, “In April 1971, Sir Peter Shore, MP, who was chair of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee, moved a motion in the UK parliament condemning atrocities committed in erstwhile East Pakistan, followed by another motion, moved by Action Bangladesh and supported by over 233 cross-party members, calling for the end of genocide in East Bengal and the recognition of Bangladesh.”
The high commissioner commended the US Congress resolution led by Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Steve Chabot, which she said needs to be emulated in the British parliament, and reaffirmed her commitment to working with British parliamentarians towards the recognition of the Bangladesh genocide in the UK parliament.
Expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for declaring March 25 as Bangladesh Genocide Day, the High Commissioner said: "Bangladesh High Commission, London has organised many events including one with the University College, London for creating global awareness about the 1971 Bengali genocide and getting international recognition of it.”
She called upon British-Bangladeshi politicians, academia, professionals and community leaders to create greater awareness of the Bangladesh genocide amongst British political, humanitarian and think-tank circles.
Syed Badrul Ahsan in his keynote speech said, “Successive Pakistan governments and state failed in their moral, ethical and legal obligations to seek apology for the atrocities committed in Bangladesh in 1971.”
He said, “The massacre of 1971 in Bangladesh is in no way less significant than those in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda,” and suggested coordinated diplomatic efforts in Bangladesh and abroad for international recognition of the genocide.
British-Bangladeshi social activist Shahina Chowdhury and a prominent British-Bangladeshi community leader Abdul Ahad Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion, paying their respects to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the martyrs who were killed in the genocide and during the nine-month long Liberation War.
Messages from the president and prime minister on the day were read out and special prayers were offered, seeking eternal peace for Bangabandhu, his martyred family members, the martyrs of March 25 and the Liberation War.
A one-minute silence was observed in honour of the martyrs of 1971 genocide. A documentary on the Bangladesh genocide was also screened.