Bangladesh declares March 25 as Genocide Day

11 Mar 2017, 22:54 | updated: 11 Mar 2017, 23:41

Online Desk
File photo

Parliament: Bangladesh parliament on Saturday unanimously adopted a motion to declare March 25 as Genocide Day, mark the start of atrocities unleashed by the Pakistani occupation forces on the people of then-East Pakistan on this date in 1971.

Jasod lawmaker Shirin Akter (Feni-1) on Saturday placed the motion in the House with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair, which was passed by voice vote following a marathon discussion over the proposal.

Immediately after placement of the proposal, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the floor and showed many videos and images depicting the horror visited upon an unarmed civilian population by a professional armed force that disgraced itself

Shirin Akter in her proposal said the March 25, 1971 is a horrible day in the life of Bengalis. Like cowards, the Pakistani army unleashed their ferocity on a sleeping population in the dark of night.    

"History's worst genocide occurred in the form of military crackdown 'Operation Searchlight' conducted by General Tikka Khan, as per the directives of military ruler Yahya," she said.

The Pakistani army had started the crackdown aiming to annihilate the Bengali nation and their actions amounted to 'genocide as defined by the United Nations', the Jasod MP said.

Shirin Akter proposed that Parliament adopt a motion to declare March 25 as Genocide Day to recognise the genocide carried out in Bangladesh in 1971, and to take necessary steps to gather international recognition for it.

Joining the discussion on the motion, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed cited many international news and reports published in 1971 and following years depicting ferocity of Pakistani forces and claiming that more than 30 lakh, or 3 million Bangladeshis were killed in the Liberation War.

"The most surprising matter is that Khaleda Zia raised question about the number of martyred. But there is no doubt about the number of martyred," he said citing many international news. 

Tofail said even Pakistani Jamaat-e Islami leader Maududi's son Haider Farooq Maududi said that Pakistani soldiers killed some 35 lakh people with the help of Al-Badar of Jamaat-e Islami according to statistics of Jamaat's official publication 'Al-Badar' composed by Khurram Murad. "So, we regret those who question the number of martyred," he said.

He also proposed to observe December 1 as the Freedom Fighter Day.

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad MP said what the Pakistani forces did on March 25 in 1971 certainly amounted to genocide, as they wanted to annihilate the nation. "I believe it will get international recognition one day."

He said his life’s greatest regret is that he could not join the Liberation War, as he was in West Pakistan for the duration of the war. He refrained from getting into what exactly was preventing him though. Many known cases exist of Bengalis escaping West Pakistan to make their way back to the country and joining the struggle for independence.

Others tried and failed, most famously Flight Lieutenant Motiur Rahman of the Pakistan Air Force, who tried to take control of a PAF plane and fly home to join the war, granting the freedom fighters their first warplane, but got killed near the Indian border.

The former military ruler said he regrets that he could not declare 'Genocide Day' during his regime. There is no record of him or his party ever trying though, so the regret may just be over not getting the idea first.  

About Bangabandhu, Ershad said, "Were Bangabandhu not born, I wouldn’t become army chief and then President. I'm indebted to him personally.

“I also regret that I could not declare Bangabandhu the Father of the Nation during my regime. I wanted to do so and a proposal was placed in my cabinet in this regard. I wanted to repay my debt to Bangabandhu."

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu said it was a world record that on average highest number of people were killed per day in the Liberation War of Bangladesh.

Earlier on February 15, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned that 25th March is certainly a Genocide Day and underscored the need for pursuing different international organisations to get its international recognition.

On the same day, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed had initiated the discussion referring to the misleading information of a book titled 'Creation of Bangladesh: Myths Exploded' by Junaed Ahmed published from Karachi in Pakistan.

Tofail had demanded the House declare 25th March as the Genocide Day.