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Bangladesh envoy calls for a motion at British parliament recognising 1971 genocide

Bangla Mirror Desk:

 

High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem has called for a fresh motion at the British Parliament recognising the 1971 genocide, recalling the early day motion adopted at the British Parliament in June 1971 that ‘stopping the genocide in East Bengal and recognising Bangladesh’.

In her welcome remarks at a high-profile commemorative event at the British Parliament on Bangladesh Genocide Day 2024 hosted today by the Bangladesh High Commission, London, the High Commissioner said, “There is strong documentary and eyewitness evidence that genocide was committed on Bangladesh soil in 1971, yet the world has failed to recognise it”.

Senior British parliamentarians, eminent academics, legal experts, freedom fighters and community leaders participated in the commemorative events titled ‘Remembering the Bangladesh Genocide 1971: The Road to International Recognition”.

The High Commissioner cited several international media reports on the Bengali Genocide, including Anthony Mascarenhas’s lead article in the Sunday Times headlined “Genocide” and similar reports on mass atrocities by The Telegraph and BBC that shocked the world and prompted global leaders to act.

The envoy said, “Sir Peter Shore, MP, who was chair of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee in 1971, moved a motion in the UK parliament condemning atrocities committed in erstwhile East Pakistan, followed by another motion, moved by Action Bangladesh and supported by over 233 cross-party members, calling for the end of genocide in East Bengal and the recognition of Bangladesh”.

Expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for declaring 25 March as Bangladesh Genocide Day, the High Commissioner said: “Bangladesh High Commission, London has organised many events including one with the University College, London for creating global awareness about the 1971 Bengali genocide and getting international recognition of it.”

The High Commissioner commended the US Congress resolution led by Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Steve Chabot, which needs to be emulated in the British parliament.

She called upon British-Bangladeshi politicians, academia, professionals and community leaders to create greater awareness of the Bangladesh genocide amongst British political, humanitarian and think-tank circles.

Speaking on the occasion, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh and Vice Chair of the APPG on Bangladesh Tom Hunt MP said, “The atrocities that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971 during the War of Liberation was an unforgettable event”. He assured that he would be working with the Bangladesh High Commission, London and the diaspora towards creating awareness about the 1971 genocide and introducing a new motion in the UK Parliament to recognise it.

Lord Rami Ranger, Patron of Conservative Friends of India and the cohost of the event expressed his support for getting its international recognition.

Chairman of the British Asian Conservative Link Lord Suri urged the UK policymakers to bring a fresh motion in the parliament in favour of international recognition of the genocide in Bangladesh during the 9-month War of Liberation in 1971.

Professor of International Law and Human Rights of the University of Birmingham Professor Mohammad Shahabuddin said that the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh by the Pakistan army fulfilled all criteria to be recognised by the UN.

Val Harding, a Swadhinata Trust, UK trustee who served as a nurse in a refugee camp in Calcutta during the 1971 War of Liberation, recalled seeing thousands of traumatised and distressed people who sought refuge in India after fleeing atrocities committed by the Pakistani invading army and their local collaborators.

Professor Nazia M Habib of Cambridge University, daughter of a freedom fighter, remembered how her father witnessed the intellectual killing at Dhaka University in 1971 and demanded justice for the victims. Her suggestion was to make systematic efforts, collect more evidence, and collaborate with diplomats and lawyers to obtain UN recognition for the Bengali genocide.