London High Commission commemorates 50 years of Bangladesh Genocide calling for international recognition
Bangladesh High Commission, London in collaboration with Centre for Genocide Studies of the Dhaka University today observed 50 years of Bangladesh Genocide in a commemorative event titled “1971 Bangladesh Genocide and International Recognition”, calling for international recognition of the genocide and mass killings of Bangalees by the invading Pakistan army fifty years ago on 25 March 1971. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland Saida Muna Tasneem chaired the event.
Dr Rounaq Jahan, professor of international affairs and senior research scholar at the Columbia University, also an eyewitness of 25 March 1971, delivering the keynote speech, presented a comparative narrative of contemporary genocides since the Second World War, international legal jurisprudence and legal opinions on the recognition of the Bangladesh genocide of 1971.
International genocides and war crimes experts, including Professor Joann Digeorge-Lutz, Head of the Department of Liberal Studies of Texas A&M University, Ms Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History and Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies of Arizona State University and Dr. Sachi Dastagir, professor of State University of New York College and Chair, Indian Subcontinent partition documentation project speaking as panellists recommended a number of strategies used by genocide victims such as Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia which could create greater awareness about their genocide atrocities.
Dr Mizanur Rahman, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of International Affairs and former chairman of the National Human Right Commission, Dr Imitaz Ahmed, professor of the International Relations and Director of Centre for Genocide Studies of the Dhaka University, Sultan Mahmud Sharif, a leading organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War in the UK, freedom fighter Dewan Gaus Sultan and Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury, daughter of 1971 martyr intellectual Dr Alim Chowdhury also spoke as panellists.
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem in her opening remarks said: “On the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of Bangladesh’s glorious independence inspired by the theme ‘The Eternal Mujib’, Bangladesh High Commission London paid deep homage to the 3 million victims and 200,000 Biranganas of the 1971 genocide committed on the soil of Bangladesh during our 1971 War of Liberation”,
Expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for declaring 25 March as the Bangladesh Genocide Day, the High Commissioner said: “The government headed by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina started the 1971 war crimes trials through the independent International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh. It is now the responsibility of our generation to create global awareness about international recognition of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide and prevent genocide never happens anywhere else.”
The High Commissioner said the massacre of 1971 is in no way less significant than those in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia; and pledged to create greater awareness on Bangladesh genocide amongst British political, humanitarian and think-tank circles and said today’s event is part of the effort.
Dr Mizanur Rhaman spoke on international legal provisions for recognition of Bangladesh genocide of 1971 and said that the recognition of Bangladesh genocide is indispensable for sake of justice.
Dr Imitaz Ahmed said Bangladesh 1971 genocide should get interanional recognition as the mass killing on 25 March and the following months was intendent to destroy the entire Bengalee nation.
Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury described the brutal intellectual killings on 14 December 1971 and demanded an unconditional apology from the Pakistan army and their collaborators.
Earlier, messages from the hon’ble President and Hon’ble Prime Minister on the Day were read out and special prayers were offered, seeking eternal peace for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his martyred families, the martyrs of March 25 and the glorious liberation war. A one-minute silence was observed in honour of the martyrs of 71 genocide. A documentary on the genocide was also screened. Dedicating to the 1971 martyrs, Political Counsellor Dewan Mahmudul Haque recited a famous poem of eminent poet Shamsur Rahman.
Members of the British-Bangladeshi diaspora joined the virtual event and paid their profound respects to the Father of the Nation and the martyrs killed on March 25 genocide and during the nine-month glorious liberation war.