Virtual Conference on
"1971 Bangladesh Genocide and International Recognition”
Organized by Bangladesh High Commission, London
In collaboration with the Centre for Genocide Studies, University of Dhaka
Thursday, 25 March 2021 at 1330-1500 hrs. (GMT)
Sachi G. Dastidar
Distinguished Professor, State University of New York, Old Westbury
Chair, Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project, New York
· Dear Organizers:
Let me first wish two Shuvo Janmadins or Happy Birthdays to Bangladesh and pronam as well to Bangabandhu. Our Partition Center celebrated his centennial at our Annual Conference and the nation’s triumph rising from the genocide.
· I thank Bangladesh Embassy called High Commission of U.K. and Ireland, Her Excellency Tasneem, the Ambassador or High Commissioner for organizing this very important event. Thank you first secretary Hoque. It is great to see Dr. Momen and Dr. Jahan after a long time. I like the word Embassy and Ambassador than the colonial words as my didima-dadu, grandma-grandpa, two mama uncles, spent years and years in British prison for their activism for India’s independence from Faridpur and Dhaka now in Bangladesh and Kolkata now in West Bengal. It brings to my memory how Bangabandhu and other freedom lovers spent time in Pakistani prison for Bangladesh independence, and not accept Pakistani symbolism.
· I feel passionately about this issue of non-recognition of Bengali genocide. It feels like Bengali lives don’t matter! I know people who lost lives and cleansed in 1971. For me there are layers within this genocide. Within Bengali genocide I believe there was a Hindu extermination campaign by Pakistan Military and their Bengali allies. There was an extermination campaign for Bengali Muslim intelligentsia. Then there was an attempt for extermination of secular Muslims and non-Muslims, and there was an attempt to destroy the pro-independence Awami League. This is not that different from Nazism when not only the Jews, but also Gypsies, disabled, socialists, homosexuals were exterminated, and all fought to recognize that.
· At this 50th Anniversary let me thank India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, peoples of Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura for supporting Bangladesh Liberation War and giving shelter to ten million genocide-surviving oppressed Bangladeshis seeking shelter there. I cannot express enough my gratitude to Indian armed forces, including my friend Swapna’s older brother an Indian Army officer for liberating Bangladesh. I offer my pronam to those who gave their lives for Bangla freedom. We should create a memorial for them in Dhaka.
· I also believe that unless we are able to prosecute the genocide, and bring murderers to justice, instability in Bangladesh and attack on Hindu minority and secular Muslims like Bangabandhu and his family, and later Mrs. Wazed, may continue. Thus, I fully support the trial of war criminals by Prime Minister Wazed’s government. Dhanyabad! Thanks! Pronam Janai! And Bravo!
· The genocide in Bangladesh is unparalleled in human history. Whenever I get chance, I express my feelings openly. When an American politician protected a mass murderer, I protested. I understand he called a civil rights group to say that he won’t support killers any more. When a noted Washington D.C. think-tank invited a Hindu-named woman to promote Pakistani mass murder’s innocence, I protested by phone and in writing. They wrote back apologizing, but didn’t invite secularists yet. Twice I reminded this during Congressional Hearing. I am pleased to say that after the second hearing, a few days before the current administration came to power in Bangladesh, they followed most of my recommendations.
· I still can’t believe three million killed and quarter million girls and mothers abused and the world can’t call it a genocide? This is sad! This is bad! This is unacceptable.
· After the Jagannath Hall massacre on the first day, 3 million more were killed in only 9 months, a very high per day killing rate. Yet, no Pakistani was tried. Pakistan, Muslim-majority nations, U.K., Canada and the U.S. gave asylum to mass murderers. China supported the genocide.
· Why non-Bangladeshis complain? Why Bangladeshi-Indian-Hindus who ran two states in India didn’t mobilize? Why American activists are not protesting? I wonder.
· On a related issue let me thank the first Awami government when they replied to my request in 1996 to repair the 350-year old Mahilara Mott in Barisal where we later built a school in 2001 named after my mother and mother-in-law. Killers wouldn’t have allowed that. And Just this month we repaired our 15th Century Sri Bishnu murti in Barisal. I am trying to recover my wife’s family’s Bishnu Murti of Mahilara that is now kept in Barisal.
· I understand that a Hindu civil rights group in America has asked U.S. President to recognize the genocide. Hindu America Foundation memorialized the genocide two days ago. I learned that many U.S. representatives have wrote statements for Congressional Record.
· After waiting 50 years, I strongly believe that we need a coalition of Bangladeshis, Americans, Europeans, Indians, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, refugees in India and asylum-seekers in America, secularists and devotees to join hands to defeat the pro-genocide camp. For me, if any of these groups push for genocide recognition alone, it will be fine. We shouldn’t wait for another 50 years. Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project supports this cause as our own.
Let me quickly go through 24 slides
covering such a vast world-neglected issue, but more importantly, censored by
Pakistan, Islamists, China, World Press, Muslim-majority nations and democratic West. Joi
The conference started with a song dedicated to Bangladesh Liberation, followed by Welcome Remarks of H. E. Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Director, Centre for Genocide Studies, University of Dhaka and moderator of the event. Some of the speakers at the conference included, Keynote Speaker Dr. Rounaq Jahan, Distinguished Fellow & Visiting fellow, Columbia University, New York, who spoke on “1971 Bangladesh Genocide and International Recognition”, followed by this writer, Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury, Daughter of martyred intellectual of 1971 Genocide Dr Alim Chowdhury, Professor Joann Digeorgio-Lutz, Department Head, Department of Liberal Studies, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Author of “Women and Genocide: Gendered Experiences of Violence, Survival, and Resistance”, Professor Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, Arizona State University, Prof Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs and Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, attorney Sultan Shaiff, and others. This was followed by a brief question and answer. Shockingly, one Indian-American professor defended the mass murderers which brought uproar from Dr. Rahman and Mr. Shaiff who followed the speaker, and from others on tweet. The speaker also gave false data on Assam, India that was pointed out by this writer. Attendees sought ways to bring to justice all the mass murderers and prosecution by Pakistan. Issue of reparation wasn’t discussed.The conference ended with vote of thanks from Her Excellency Tasneem.
Here is a report from a daily: https://www.observerbd.com/news.php?id=305356