More than 1,500 anti-war crime campaigners in Bangladesh took to the streets to to press for their demands to attain the recognition of March 25 as the International Genocide Day by the UN.
Professionals including university teachers, journalists, lawyers, writers, doctors, engineers, took part in as many as 34 different protest rallies simultaneously on Thursday evening in university campuses, in front of press clubs, and in front of Shaheed Minars across the country.
Under the banner of “One Bangladesh”, a platform consisting of pro-liberation professionals, the protesters carried posters that read “UN should recognise March 25 as International Genocide Day”, “We demand an official apology from Pakistan”, and “Dear Pakistan, stop smear campaign against 1971 war crimes trials”.
Wearing masks and maintaining health protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the demonstrators also lit candles in memory of the 3 million victims and the half a million women violated by Pakistani occupation forces during the nine-month Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Lashing out at Pakistan’s barbaric and gruesome killings, Md. Rashidul Hasan, President of the organisation, said: “Since Bangladesh now celebrates its Golden Jubilee of Independence and graduates from a ‘Least Developed Country to a ‘Developing Nation’, the spotlight is firmly on the genocide that led to its creation in 1971 over ‘an ocean of blood’.”
“We demand the UN take into account the details available in open sources and push Pakistan to disclose its confidential archives to get a fullest possible account of the genocide and then recognise the genocide unleashed upon us as one of the worst of its kind in the history of mankind,” said protester Ayesha Zaman Shimu.
“Apart from bringing this issue to the deserved global attention, such recognition will also put under scanner the activities of Pakistan’s armed forces to suppress democratic struggles of ethnic minorities the Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun, and Gilgit-Baltistan Shias,” said another protester, Shahnaz Parvin Dolly.
The recognition of the 1971-genocide will complete the loose ends of history-writing in post-colonial South Asia and will also help mount pressure on Pakistan to abandon its policy of using terror and military brutality as an instrument of national policy, according to history professor Muntasir Mamun.
The UN would have thus done a huge service to mankind in general and South Asia in particular by recognizing the 1971-East Pakistan Genocide and Pakistan must be made to come up with a formal apology like the Japanese have for the 1937 Nanking massacre and rapes and the Germans have for the Holocaust, said Barrister Tureen Afroz, who was the lead prosecutor at the 1971 War Crimes Trials .
Her book on the subject is a magnum opus on the brutalities perpetrated by the Pakistan Army in 1971.
The protests were staged just a day before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in Dhaka to participate in the country’s 50th Independence Day celebrations.