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Recognise Pakistans 1971 atrocities as genocide

Published : Sunday, 31 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 451

Recognise Pakistans 1971 atrocities as genocide

Recognise Pakistans 1971 atrocities as genocide

That past cannot be confined to Bangladesh alone; everyone in the global community must remember it. The 1971 genocide in Bangladesh orchestrated and executed by the Pakistani military with the support of its Bihari and Bengali collaborators constitutes one of the most horrific atrocities since World War II. As recorded by Robert Payne author of Massacre: The Tragedy at Bangladesh and the Phenomenon of Mass Slaughter Throughout History, General Tikka Khan, then-chief of the Pakistan armys eastern command, ordered his forces, "I want the land, not the people."

The 25th of March, 1971, infamous "Operation Searchlight" marked the beginning of one of the worlds worst genocides, directed by Pakistani General Yahya Khan and ended in the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Following the war concluded, evidence of rape camps, mass graves, detention centers, and torture camps began to resurface.

Crimes committed against the Bengalis were highlighted in media outlets, and testimonies from survivors and victims family members indicated that what happened was a genocide. They murdered 3 million people and raped 2-3 lakh women and children. Researchers and freedom fighters claim there remain more mass graves at the district and Upazila levels that have not been adequately documented.

What is considered "Genocide"?: Genocide refers to the intentional and systematic destruction of individuals because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-descent jurist who advised the United States Department of War during World War II, is credited with first coining the term "genocide." Genocide is, first and foremost, a crime against humanity that may result in indictment, trial, and punishment at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was defined by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal (Nürnberg Charter).

Atrocities in Bangladesh followed a similar pattern to other genocides, such as those that took place in Armenia and Rwanda, in which an entire population was persecuted because of their ethnicity, nationality, or political views. As members of a religious minority, the Hindu community of Bangladesh and anti-Pakistani were prime targets by the Pakistani military and its collaborators from the inception of Bangladeshs liberation war.

Similarly, mass killing and widespread violence are frequently observed characteristics of genocide. Pakistani military and its collaborators Al Badr, Razakar, Bihari, and Jamaat e Islam have been accused of committing brutal killings, massacres, and other forms of violence in Bangladesh. The number of Bengalis murdered during the War of Liberation has been calculated to be three million.

Likewise, systematic and organized execution is an inherent characteristic of genocides. If we look at history, systematic perception and prejudice propelled the plot of the War of Independence in 1971. The crimes perpetrated by Pakistani forces in Bangladesh were a component of a broader campaign of oppression and violence orchestrated by the Pakistani military and its allies.

As is typical of genocides, sexual assault was rampant during the atrocities in Bangladesh. Bengali women have been the victims of a high number of reported cases of sexual assault, including rape. The Pakistani military and its collaborators sexually assaulted between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women throughout the fight for independence. Again, there were around 170,000 abortions among the raped women. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 raped women committed suicide after being subjected to torture and humiliation by the Pakistani military and Razakar.

Criteria of genocide mention the targeted population is often compelled to be forcibly displaced. Millions of Bengalis were uprooted from their residences in Bangladesh, with many searches for shelter in neighboring India. An estimated 30-40 million people were internally displaced, while another 10-15 million were seeking refuge in neighboring India.

Genocide often involves the destruction of the targeted groups cultural and intellectual assets. The Pakistani military in Bangladesh deliberately sought out and killed Bengali intellectuals as a means of destroying the countrys knowledgeable, civilizing, and societal aristocracy.

Pakistani military and collaborators murdered 1,112 Bengali intellectuals and professionals, including teachers, doctors, attorneys, and authors, leaving an empty spot in Bengali societys academic structure.15 Over 200 intellectuals were targeted in the first two weeks of December and kidnapped, tortured, and executed after being placed on a hit list by Pakistani military generals. Pakistani forces and their local allies were responsible for the deaths of 4.2% of Bengali University professors during the liberation war.

Atrocities perpetrated by the Pakistani military against the Bengalis in 1971 have been widely highlighted by international media, academic researchers, and several politicians. In 1971, the American consulate general in Dhaka, Archer Blood, outlined the scenario as "selective genocide" in a telegram. He said, "Our Government has failed to denounce atrocities... We have chosen not to intervene, even which, unfortunately, the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state.

Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional public servants express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nations position as a moral leader of the free world."

On June 13, 1971, Pakistani journalist and author Anthony Mascarenhas penned a 16-column (2-page) article headlined "Genocide" in The Sunday Times of London concerning the atrocities being committed in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Again, New York Times journalist Peggy Dubbin described the war of 1971 as "one of the bloodiest slaughters in modern times". R.J. Rummel, a political scientist and genocide specialist, expressed that the events that took place in Bangladesh were a "democide" (state-sponsored genocide).

In 2017, the Parliament of Bangladesh declared March 25 "Genocide Remembrance Day" to bring attention to these crimes and pledge Bangladesh to strive tirelessly to eliminate genocide globally. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, have investigated and criticized human rights violations committed during the war in 1971. After investigating the situation in Bangladesh, the International Commission of Jurists concluded in 1973 that genocide had occurred.

Furthermore, two influential US lawmakers introduced Resolution 1430 in the House of Representatives, demanding the US President recognise the crimes perpetrated against ethnic Bengalis and Hindus by the Pakistani military forces in 1971 as genocide in 2022. At the same time, the Dutch governmentis contemplating officially recognizing Pakistans participation in the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide. Bangladesh urged the United Kingdom Parliament to acknowledge the 1971 genocide.

Previously, Pakistan formed a War Inquiry Commission (also known as the Hamoodur Rahman Commission) to probe the atrocities committed during the war. The panel concluded that the Pakistani army was responsible for perpetrating widespread atrocities and genocide.

The posthumous book of former Pakistani General Khadim Hussain Raja A Stranger in My Own Country: East Pakistan, 1969-1971" is a testimony to the homicidal philosophy of General Niazi (former commander of the eastern front). General Raja said, "What Genghis Khan would have been hesitant to say, Niazi may say it with impunity." He further noted that Niazi intended to let his troops unleash on the Bangalee women.

In conclusion, we can say that evidence and analysis justify the conclusion that the Pakistani unlawful acts in Bangladesh ought to be labeled as genocide since they were perpetrated with the explicit goal of wiping out the Bengali people as a nation, ethnicity, or race. In this regard, along with ethnic cleansing, prejudice based on religion, and sexual assault committed by Pakistani forces against the people of Bangladesh constitute genocide.

The writer is a freelance contributor

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