‘Policy of the present government is to work on 1971 Genocide’

Geneva, June 13 (BASUG/OurVoice): State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Shahriar Alam exchanged views on the position of the present government on 1971 genocide in Bangladesh with different groups working on the issue in and outside Bangladesh.

The Minister appreciated the initiative of the Netherlands-based diaspora organisation BASUG in taking up the 1971 Genocide issue to the UN. It may be mentioned that BASUG, which enjoys the Special Consultative status of the United Nations, known as ECOSOC, had submitted a statement to UNHRC demanding the international recognition of the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh. The written statement had been accepted by the Secretary General of the UN for the 50th session, which begins on 13 June and continues till 8 July.

Based on the statement of BASUG, Centre for Genocide Studies, Dhaka University organized a hybrid meeting on Sunday at the Dhaka University Vice Chancellor’s official residence. Among others, the meeting was attended and addressed by the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Dr Md Akhteruzzaman, Trustee of Muktijoddah Museum Mafidul Huq, Director of Centre for Genocide Studies, Dhaka University Professor Imtiaz Ahmed,  Coordinator of Amra Ekattor Mahbub Zaman (first General secretary of Dhaka University Students Union/DUCSU), Engineer Helaluddin, Coordinator of Amra Ekattor, award winning film makers Tanvir Mokkammel and Kawsar Chowdhury, intellectual Prof M A Akash and member of 71 vicitm families columnist Engineer Pradip Kumar Dutta. Chairman of BASUG Bikash Chowdhury Barua from the Netherlands and Dr Taweed Reza Noor from the US joined virtually.

Speakers in the meeting including the State Minister for Foreign Affairs highly appreciated the initiative of BASUG and thanked the organisation for taking the issue up to the United Nations. This is for the first time that the issue 1971 Genocide could be submitted in writing to the UN by any Bangladeshi organisation. The Foreign Minister wanted to hear from BASUG chair, who joined the meeting virtually, the whole submission process of the statement. He wanted to know what BASUG wanted to do now and said that the present government would give all cooperation in this regard.

He added, it is the policy of the present government to take the 1971 Genocide issue to the international level and we have been working with other organizations, who are working on the issue in Bangladesh. The Minister said, his government will provide all cooperation to make sure that the Genocide issue is raised at the UN level. He also wanted to know the fate of the statement and sought BASUG’s suggestions on the next step or at the present stage. The Minister informed that he had instructed his mission in Geneva and the persons concerned to contact BASUG in this regard.

BASUG Chair informed the meeting that he was called by the Bangladesh representative at the UN Geneva Mr Baky on 11 June and sought suggestions what mission could do at this stage. BASUG chair said to him, since the statement had been accepted by the Secretary General of the UN Human Rights Council and he (Mr Baky) was going to attend the session in person), he could, if possible, draw the attention of the chair about the statement and distribute the hard copies of the statement among the participants. BASUG chair said to the Minister that Bangladesh missions abroad can play an important role to take forward the campaign on 1971 genocide. He suggested the Minister for more publications in English language. In reply the Minister Shahriar Alam said, MOFA had published a booklet on Genocide in English. Such booklets should be published in Arabic and other important languages to make the world aware.

Speakers in the meeting said that there should be more collaboration of the government with the organisations in and beyond Bangladesh to work on the issue to draw the attention of the international community. While appreciating the initiative of BASUG one speaker in the meeting said, the statement missed some points. For example, he said, it did not mention about the local collaborators, who were also responsible for the genocide in 1971 in Bangladesh. About the 1971 Genocide Denial Act writer and columnist Engineer Pradip Kumar, a member of the Genocide victim family, said, this act has never been implemented, while we see many people publicly deny the 1971 genocide. This should be implemented, he said.

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