Int’l recognition of 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh demanded

Published : 01 Jun 2023 09:29 PM | Updated : 01 Jun 2023 09:30 PM

1. The Bangladeshi diaspora organization, Stichting BASUG (Bangladesh Support Group) with Special Consultative Status of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations along with Aamra Ekattor (an organisation for upholding the values of Bangladesh liberation war and achieving a secular and progressive Bangladesh), Projonmo '71 (an organization of the children of martyrs in Bangladesh Liberation War), European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) and Seraji Foundation e. V. (both Diaspora organisations of Bangladeshi origin in Europe) has issued the following statement reiterating their demand for the „International Recognition of the 1971 GENOCIDE‟ committed against the Bengali nation by the Pakistani occupation army and their collaborators during Bangladesh War of Independence. 

2. We must recall that the 1971 GENOCIDE in Bangladesh conceived by the Pakistani authorities, planned and perpetrated by the Pakistani military aided by their Bihari and Bengali collaborators is one of the world‟s gravest mass atrocities witnessed after the Second World War. According to Bangladesh Government estimates 3 million people were killed, over two-hundred thousand women were sexually and physically violated, and 10 million people were forced to cross the border into India, leaving behind their ancestral homes and worldly possessions just to save their lives and dignity of their women. Over 20 million citizens were internally displaced in search of safety. Newspapers, magazines and publications which are available in libraries and archives all around the world bear testimony to the fact. Senator Ted Kennedy's visit to the Bangladeshi refugee camps in India, Pakistan‟s refusal to let him enter occupied Bangladesh for fact-finding and his subsequent speeches, deliberations and report to the US Senate are ample proof of Pakistan's atrocities. International Commission of Jurists formed an inquiry body which could not complete its mission due to Pakistan‟s non cooperation. Finally, the report was published in 1972. The detailed report explains legal points pertaining to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the war of Bangladesh Independence. Reports sent by US mission in Dhaka (then Dacca) through its dissent channel and the Testimony of Sixty compiled and published by UK charity Oxfam were other documents that prove the Genocide. 

3. The history of the nation of Bangladesh is inevitably tied to the 1971 Liberation War, which is a story of immense violence and bloodshed. The nascent state of Bangladesh emerged from the remnants of the carnage that was carried out by the West Pakistani armed forces. The population in East Pakistan had little choice but to rise above the systematic subjugation by its western counterpart. Their leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the Independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of 26 March after the Pakistani army struck with all their might to destroy the non-cooperation movement launched by Bangabandhu's Awami League when the Party was denied a smooth transfer of power, despite a clear win in the national elections. Operation Searchlight went underway on the evening of 25 March marking the beginning of 1971 Genocide. 

4. The United Nations helped form an international team of abortion specialists to deal with the fallout from the Pakistani rape camps. The „Birangonas‟ (brave or courageous women), were the victims of a systematic campaign organized by the Pakistani military. A specially designed act of evil committed by the Pakistani military in their barbaric and foolish attempt to change the Bengali race. The Pakistan Army used organized systematic rape as a weapon of war. Young girls and women were abducted and repeatedly gang-raped in special camps run by the Pakistani servicemen. 

5. The Pakistani Army and its jihadi stormtroopers, namely Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams, under orders from the Pakistani Army High Command, systematically killed intellectuals and professionals of Bangladesh. This spiteful and evil act stood out amongst the mass-indiscriminate killings of civilians. This act was designed to cripple the country intellectually, devoiding it of a bright future.

 6. The 1971 GENOCIDE by the Pakistan military and their allies is well documented and reported in the international media. Diplomatic correspondences and parliamentary reports during that period acknowledged what was taking place. The world media, including The Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, The New York Times, TASS, AFP and other news agencies worldwide reported the Bengali massacre by Pakistan Army. Some stories reached their front pages, The Sunday Times of London was the first to state it was a GENOCIDE, in block capitals, in an article by Pakistani journalist, Anthony Mascarenhas. Mascarenhas, a Pakistani citizen himself had to flee Pakistan for speaking this truth to the world. US Diplomat Archer Blood‟s telegrams are seen most strongly worded expression of dissent in the history of the U. S. Foreign Service. Within these messages Mr. Blood criticised his Government‟s apathy to the mass atrocities and lack of intervention during this conflict, accusing them of appeasing the West Pakistani-dominated government. Massacre that started on the night of 25 March 1971, whose codename was Operation Searchlight, and which continued onwards was highlighted worldwide by the international media. 

7. Academic research and scholarship related to the study of genocide has largely recognized the historical event of 1971 as GENOCIDE. Non-governmental organizations dedicated to working on genocide prevention and accountability, such as the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, Genocide Watch and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience recognised the 1971 GENOCIDE in statements released at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. The recent issuance of a statement by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) recognises the Genocide and calls for action by world bodies. This itself is a great achievement, demonstrating the fact that truth cannot be buried underneath lies and falsehood for long. The world body of Genocide scholarship is fully convinced of the fact that documentation available on Bangladesh Genocide in 1971 is quite adequate for recognition by the UN and countries across the globe. The Government of Bangladesh on different occasions has acknowledged to the activists to this petition and other civil society activists that seeking recognition for Bangladesh Genocide by Pakistan is not easy in a complex geopolitical world and within its foreign policy. In meetings with activists, the government also recognizes and appreciates the voice of the civil society groups in Bangladesh and the diaspora of Bangladeshis in raising the issue at the UN, EU and other international bodies. 

8. A bipartisan resolution calling for the recognition of the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh by Republican Congressman Steve Chabot and Democratic Congressman Rohan Khanna has been tabled in the US House of Representatives. A European delegation comprising of former Parliamentarian, Genocide scholars and human rights activists have just completed a Bangladesh visit to know more about the Bangladesh Genocide in 1971 and see for themselves the killing fields, talking to victim families and survivors and exchanging views with press, civil society and other stakeholders in an International conference, symposium and two separate meet the Press events in Dhaka and Chattogram. The International conferences were held under the auspices of Dhaka University, Aamra Ekattor, European Bangladesh Forum, Projonmo 71 and Chittagong Seniors„ Club. The delegation members were assessing the possibility of raising the Bangladesh Genocide Recognition issue in Dutch, British, EU and other parliaments in Europe. They, specially the team leader, former Dutch MP for nearly 20 years, Mr Harry van Bommel sounded very optimistic about the chances of success. 

9. We reiterate our demand for a UN Resolution without further delay recognising the 1971 GENOCIDE in Bangladesh. There is an urgent need for an UN-sponsored resolution condemning atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army and their allies in 1971. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, an unconditional apology by the Pakistan Authorities must be sought, and proper compensation must be delivered to the Genocide victims. Without these, a justified closure of the miserable GENOCIDE is inconceivable. 

10. New generations across the world must know what happened in Bangladesh in 1971. We must learn from atrocities in the past to prevent future ones to achieve the universal goal of “Never again”, which was the prime goal while enacting the UN Genocide Convention. Early recognition of Bangladesh Genocide is crucial today to champion the cause of protecting human rights, practicing what we preach, and preventing more genocides to happen in the future while holding perpetrators accountable for the crime they committed. 

11. Therefore, we strongly demand that the 1971 GENOCIDE be recognized to give justice to the victims of the atrocities and bring the perpetrators to justice. We also call upon the United Nations General Assembly and other international entities to formally recognize the Bangladesh GENOCIDE of 1971 – one of the darkest yet most overlooked chapters in the human history. We believe that only through confronting the past with sincerity and truth, rising above narrow political interests, we can acknowledge our shared humanity and join hands for a safer, peaceful world. 

Aamra Ekattor (an organisation for upholding the values of Bangladesh liberation war and achieving a secular and progressive Bangladesh), Projonmo '71 (an organization of the children of martyrs in Bangladesh Liberation War), European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) (Diaspora organisation of Bangladeshi origin in Europe), Seraji Foundation e. V. (Diaspora organisation of Bangladeshi origin in Europe), NGO(s) without consultative status, also share the views expressed in this statement.