It is past time that the atrocities committed against Bangladesh by Pakistan in 1971 get universal acknowledgment. While genocides from Armenia to Rwanda are read, analyzed, and debated around the world, the horrifying genocide in Bangladesh is regrettably seldom ever denounced or even brought up.
A resolution urging the US President to recognize the atrocities committed against ethnic Bengalis and Hindus by the armed forces of Pakistan in 1971 as a genocide was initially introduced on October 15 by Congressmen Steve Chabot and Ro Khanna, both of Indian descent.
The US House of Representatives’ resolution unequivocally demands that Pakistan apologize to Bangladesh for the atrocities.
The horrifying genocide in Bangladesh was started in 1971 by the Pakistani army under the cover of Operation Searchlight. Numerous Bangladeshis were ruthlessly murdered, and tens of thousands of Bengalis also perished.
During the massacre, the Pakistani Army attacked academics, university students, teachers, and members of the Hindu community. The Pakistani military elite was certain that it could brutally put down the Bengali nationalist movement. But with India’s assistance, East Pakistan managed to free itself.
The events that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971 should be classified as genocide under the 1948 UN Convention on the Convention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). There have been more than 50 years. The genocide committed by Pakistan in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) has not been acknowledged as such by Washington or the UN.
For obvious reasons, the US has not focused on the genocide committed in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) by the country’s former ruler, West Pakistan. The US authorities were told by Archer Blood, the country’s ambassador to India at the time, but because Pakistan was a Cold War ally, the US declined to comment.
The bloodshed was just overlooked by President Nixon. Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state, criticized the development as immoral, but the US administration decided not to label the slaughter as genocidal.
The Republican lawmaker who introduced the resolution in Congress, Steve Chabot, tweeted, “The Bangladesh Genocide of 1971 must not be forgotten. I and @RepRoKhanna filed legislation to recognize that the widespread atrocities committed against Bengalis and Hindus in particular were in fact a genocide with assistance from my Hindu neighbors in Ohio’s First District.
The remembrance of the millions that were killed must not be lost to time. By acknowledging the genocide, we may improve the historical record, inform our fellow citizens, and send a message to future offenders that their actions will not be accepted or forgotten, Chabot continued.
“Proud to join @RepSteveChabot in introducing the first resolution commemorating the 1971 Bengali Genocide,” tweeted Khanna, a Democrat candidate for the US House from California’s 17th congressional district. “Millions of ethnic Bengalis and Hindus were killed or displaced in one of the most forgotten genocides of our time.”
According to the resolution submitted by the pair, the US-based NGOs Genocide Watch and Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention have urged that the atrocities committed by Pakistani forces be recognized as genocide on a worldwide scale.
Even now, the genocides and holocausts occurring elsewhere are fiercely denounced and chastised, mostly because the US and other major nations promptly recognized them and made them well-known.
The country that makes the largest contributions to UN peacekeeping missions and other international endeavors is still waiting for justice more than 50 years later. The American congressmen have made a significant move that merits praise, but Dhaka needs to do more to advance it.
It is crucial that both the US and UN acknowledge the atrocity. Bangladesh will demand an apology and compensation from Pakistan’s obstinate military government once they have acknowledged it. Bangladesh should now draw attention from throughout the world by pursuing justice.
Islamabad has tried to improve relations with Dhaka in recent years, but neither side has offered an apology. According to the military establishment in Rawalpindi, they can get away with having this mindset. Bangladesh battled for freedom and is still fighting for justice. Dhaka has undoubtedly gained pace as a result of the resolution in the US House of Representatives.
Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan is a Development worker and independent researcher, Dhaka, Bangladesh.