The Hague, December 01 (EBF/OurVoice): The international conference in the Hague, known as the city of Justice, demanded of the international community to recognise the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh committed by Pakistan soldiers and put pressure on the Pakistan government to offer unconditional apology to Bangladeshi people for the crime committed against humanity during the 9-month long liberation war in Bangladesh.
The conference was organized by the Europe-based Bangladeshi diaspora organisation European Bangladesh Forum (EBF) in collaboration with Switzerland Human Rights Commission Bangladesh on 30 November at Nieuwspoort, the Internationaal Perscentrum (attached to the Dutch Parliament building) in The Hague. It may be mentioned that the Hague conference was the follow-up of the Geneva conference held on the same issue on 30 September at the Geneva Press Club in Switzerland. A documentary film titled, ‘War Crimes 1971’ was screened at the start of the conference.
In 1971 Pakistan military and their local collaborators committed one of the worst mass atrocities that the world witnessed in the 20th century. The Pakistani occupation army in 9 months killed approximately 3 million people, violated over two hundred thousand girls and women and forced 10 million people to cross the border and take shelter in India. This number of people killed by the Pakistani Army is the highest in the world in such a short period of time. The 1971 Genocide by the Pakistan Army is well documented and reported in the international media and also in the diplomatic correspondences during that period.
Speakers opined that international recognition of any crime against humanity, in this case here against Bangladesh is of immense importance and absolute necessity to show respect and honour to the three millions victims and their family members by recognizing the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh. Recognition of Genocide is essential to create a world free from violation of human rights and for the safety of our next generation across the whole world. Because, they argues, if the world community don’t recognize a crime as a crime, the world community keep the door open for that crime to happen in the future and that is exactly what is happening in Pakistan today in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and other parts of the region. Unfortunately, Bangladesh genocide has today become a forgotten chapter in the history and we know the common phrase, ‘Justice delayed, justice denied’.
A number of experts with international reputation working on ‘Genocide’ issue from the U.K., Hong Kong, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Canada and Bangladesh took part in the discussion. Besides, speakers from different ethnic groups including Afghan, Sindh, Baloch and Pashtun also spoke on the occasion. The speakers included Bangladesh Ambassador in the Netherlands M. Riaz Hamidullah, Christopher A. Alexander, PC, former Canadian Ambassador in Kabul & former Minister of Canada, Prof Dr. Nuzhat Chowdhury, member of a Genocide victim family from Bangladesh, Dr. Ahmed Ziauddin, Board Member, International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF), Belgium, Chris Blackburn, Communications Director, Swiss InterStrategy Group and ‘Friend of Bangladesh’ Award Recipient, UK, Baseer Naveed, Executive Director, International Human Rights Council, Hong Kong (Sindh), Aurang Zeb Khan Zalmay, Editor, Pashtun Times and Researcher, Germany, Dr. Rayhan Rashid, Trustee Board member, International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF), UK and Bikash Chowdhury Barua, President EBF Netherlands. Dr. Mojibur Doftori, writer, senior researcher and HR activist from Finland facilitated two separate sessions, while Anar Chowdhury, Board member of EBF gave welcome speech.
Speaking on the day from Canada via online former Canadian Ambassador in Afghanistan and former Minister of Canada Christopher A. Alexander, PC said `1971 was not just a tragedy for Bangladesh, it led the Pakistani army to refocus its efforts away from conventional warfare and towards regular war`. `The ISI policy has been ignored for far too long and some have denied it, some have fallen victim to disinformation, some have been lobbied to turn a blind eye, but those days are ending.`
Bangladesh ambassador in the Netherlands M Riaz Hamidullah said, the first step is `to understand what we are here for`. And because we live in a world of competitive issues, we have to come to the point where we say, how much, and how far we can go. He underscored the need for creativity, strategization and imagination to build public opinion on 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh.
Communications Director of Swiss InterStrategy Group and ‘Friend of Bangladesh’ Award Recipient Chris Blackburn while addressing the conference said, ‘we can’t rest on our laurels, the issue of recognition for the genocide of 1971 is very important. We know that this issue has been fought over and sabotaged. Pakistan needs to apologise. As activists we need to keep having meetings like these. We need to keep informing people about 1971. We need to consolidate and make new friendships with like-minded people like Afghans, Baloch and Hazaras especially.’
Professor Dr. Nuzhat Choudhury, a member of the 1971 Genocide victim family in a video message sent from Dhaka said, what the Pakistani army did with us in Bangladesh, are now doing the same thing in Baluchistan. She added, Pakistan has become the credal of terrorists, they helped the Taliban to develop. Pakistan is causing terrorism not in its own country, but it is spreading terrorism across the region particularly its Secret service ISI are still causing disruption in Bangladesh in the name of religion and their continuing to do so in the west as well.