Home HUMAN RIGHTS Bengali community in Belgium joins human rights activists in calling for international recognition of Pakistan’s 1971 Genocide against Bangladesh

Bengali community in Belgium joins human rights activists in calling for international recognition of Pakistan’s 1971 Genocide against Bangladesh

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According to the United Nations, the word “genocide” was first coined by Polish lawyer Raphäel Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.

The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention explains that the word “consists of the Greek prefix genos, meaning race or tribe, and the Latin suffix cide, meaning killing.

“Lemkin developed the term partly in response to the Nazi policies of systematic murder of Jewish people during the Holocaust, but also in response to previous instances in history of targeted actions aimed at the destruction of particular groups of people. Later on, Raphäel Lemkin led the campaign to have genocide recognised and codified as an international crime.”

On March 25th the Office on Genocide Prevention, on its official Twitter account, noted its work with the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, the “Nobody’s Listening” immersive virtual experience to create greater awareness of the 2014 terror campaign against the Yazidi people and other minority groups in Iraq, and a meeting with Peter Lundberg UN Resident Coordinator for Montenegro.

The fact that March 25th marked the anniversary of Pakistan’s 1971 Genocide of the Bangladeshi people did not even merit a mention, despite the fact that as many as three million died during the pogrom. The UN has, to this day, failed to recognise the atrocity as an act of Genocide.

In 1971, the self-appointed president of Pakistan and commander-in-chief of the army General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan and his top generals prepared a careful and systematic military, economic, and political operation against East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). They planned to murder that country’s Bengali intellectual, cultural, and political elite. They planned to indiscriminately murder hundreds of thousands of its Hindus and drive the rest into India. And they planned to destroy its economic base to insure that it would be subordinate to West Pakistan for at least a generation to come. This despicable and cutthroat plan was outright genocide.

Rudolph Joseph Rummel, author, ‘Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900’ (1994).

On the day of anniversary members of the Bangladeshi community in Belgium gathered outside the Berlaymont – headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels – to mark the day, as U.S. President Joe Biden met inside with European leaders.

Andy Vermaut, Head of Belgian human rights NGO Post Versa, which organised and hosted the event for the second year in a row, made an impassioned speech condemning the failure of the global community to recognise the Genocide.

I’m still perplexed as to how this could have happened despite the formation of the United Nations. Let us allow the European Union to gloat about its moral leadership today despite the reality that individual European governments kept mute after they all fled Bangladesh in 1971… For more than 50 years the people of Bangladesh have waited for recognition of the crimes and tragedies committed against them.

Andy Vermaut, Post Versa.

Also present was Manel Msalmi, International Affairs Advisor to Members of the European Parliament and herself a prominent human rights activist.

She discussed the appalling horrors inflicted on women during the Genocide: between between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women are believed to have suffer rape at the hands of Pakistani soldiers.

The United States has also failed to recognise the Bangladesh Genocide: it has been widely speculated that this may be as Washington has considered Pakistan as a strategic partner, and therefore wished to avoid causing embarrassment to Islamabad.

Following the manifestation, members of the Bangladeshi community along with human rights activists and journalists participated in a seminar/conference, also in Brussels.

The keynote speaker at the event was Minister of Information and Broadcasting Muhammad Hasan Mahmud (pictured) who joined via Zoom.

The highly respected minister reinforced the call for International recognition of the Genocide before then engaging with delegates.

Delegates agreed that the recognition was important not only to that generation who had survived the Genocide, and there are many today who still carry the memories and the scars of those dreadful events, but also the youngest, as well as the future generations.

Video: Bangladeshi survivors speak out.

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