At a time when the world is realizing that dangers of forgetting the lessons of history, I urge your office to co-sponsor, the historic bi-partisan H.Res.1430 - Recognizing the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971, on behalf of the Bangladeshi American Community, the American Hindu community and the broader Asian American diaspora. This resolution sends a much-needed message to the international community on the primacy of human rights in international relations and sets an encouraging and inspiring example for all those who want to build a just international society, based on the principles of mutual respect.
Below are some of the details of the scale and brutality of one of the largest unrecognized genocides of the 20th century:
1. At a meeting on February 22, 1971, then President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan was recorded as saying to his top military brass, “Kill 3 million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Since March 25,1971, 60 to 80 thousand Pakistani soldiers commenced the massacre of Bengali civilians in an operation codenamed “Searchlight”.
2. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee To Investigate the Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees published a report to the Committee on November 1, 1971, which states “Nothing is more clear, or more easily documented, than the systematic campaign of terror—and its genocidal consequences—launched by the Pakistan army on the night of March 25th. Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts, reports of international agencies such as the World Bank, and additional information available to the Subcommittee document the continuing reign of terror which grips East Bengal. Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and, in some places, painted with yellow patches marked ‘H’. All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad.”.
3. In its “Declaration in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Bangladesh Genocide” United States nongovernmental organization Genocide Watch states “Throughout the nine months of their anti-independence occupation of East Pakistan, the Pakistani Military Forces persecuted, tortured, and murdered representatives of Bengali culture and identity, including poets, musicians, professors, journalists, physicians, scientists, writers, and film makers.”
Your support in co-sponsoring this bi-partisan resolution will help bring closure to the millions who lost family and loved ones. This is important not only as a tribute to the innocent victims in Bangladesh, who faced barbaric massacres for ten continuous months, but also in terms of preventing the recurrence of similar crimes against humankind. To that effect, we hope that this resolution will ignite a conversation that will ensure that the Pakistan Army is held accountable for the crimes it has committed over the decades and we all will recommit ourselves to preventing such atrocities from ever occurring again.