Genocide of Bangladesh
Genocide of Bangladesh
In the beginning of 1971, West Pakistan attempted to eliminate the Bengali culture in Eastern Pakistan. With the formation of the Bengali nationalists creating their own country, the liberation war occurred in Bangladesh which caused the genocide. In reality the liberation war was a smoke screen to hide the genocide that was being committed on the Bengali people, from the Pakistan government. Over three million people were killed and over fifteen million people were displaced and seeking refuge in the nearby country of India for protection.
The United Nations failed to act reasonable during the Bangladesh genocide in 1971 which resulted in long lasting negative impacts on the country such as the separation between the Islamic and Hindu people. A negative impact that occurred during the Bangladesh genocide was the fact that United Nations did not intervene, let alone condemn the killing. When the Pakistani army attacked the Bengali nationalists, it was considered a civil war within the country. Countries such as India and USSR, who were allies at the time, could not step in and try to keep peace within the country.
Due to national sovereignty, this gives the right for nations to make their own decision and govern their own citizens without outside interference. This is an important principle of international law. (Jahan 298) On March 25, 1971, General Yahya Khan ordered the strike against the population of Dhaka where many educated Bengalis lived. Over seventeen professors and two hundred educated students at the University of Dhaka were killed in cold blood. Many citizens were killed and houses and communities were burnt to the ground as well.
On March 26 1971, media coverage broke out such as the Boston Globe releasing statements such as “bloody clashes between staff and students” (Moses,261) and, Sydney Schanberg at the New York Times which wrote “The Pakistani Army is using artillery and heavy machine guns against unarmed East Pakistani civilians to crush the movement for autonomy in this province of 75 million people. ”(Moses,261) This became a problem for the Pakistan government, which resulted in them expelling all foreign journalists and allowing Pakistan to publicise their own information which allowed them to hide the massacres occurring within their borders.
When Anthony Mascarenhas decided to be the one reporter to not show the Pakistan propaganda, he released information such as his own accounts of the brutality of “kill and burn missions”, the devastation of the Pakistan army on villages and towns, and even traveled to London and told them he is an eyewitness to a huge “systematic killing spree” and heard many army officers describe their killings as a “final solution. ” (Dummett. BBC) This was the first time that the Western World was able to see what was occurring in Bangladesh without the Pakistan propaganda.
Given only some information from within, American Consul General in Dacca at the time sent a telegram to Washington with the title “Selective Genocide. ” (Moses,261) India also released a statement accusing Pakistan of “massacre of defenceless people and that amount to genocide. ”(Moses,263) In Britain, awareness of the events occurred in Bangladesh were increasing. British students in London conducted a hunger strike for the British government to recognize the Bangladesh genocide and to raise the matter in the United Nations.
While there was a large quantity of media coverage on the genocide occurring in Bangladesh, the UN did not consider the crack down on the Pakistani army. Only in May did United Nations send a team of officials to Bangladesh for a week on the purpose of humanitarian mission, and not a human rights issue. This means that there was no peace keeping in the element and that they had no authority to stop the Pakistani army from their actions because of nation sovereignty, and were not licensed to lecture Pakistan about their domestic politics.
This is where United Nations failed to act responsibly and protect human rights in the Bangladesh community. They knew about the events occurring in Bangladesh, but couldn’t intervene due to national sovereignty laws. National sovereignty laws allow a country to make their own decisions, and govern their own citizens without outside interference. This means countries can use their armies to conduct large scale killing such as the Pakistani government in 1971 on the Bengali people without outside countries interfering with them.
Most of the guilty parties that participate in acts of genocide are the leaders of the states, and cannot be touched due to political laws. During the Bangladesh genocide, individuals such as General Yahya Khan who was the president of Pakistan during the time, and his General Tikka Khan led genocide crimes against the Bengali people. (Jahan 304) National sovereignty then prohibits human organizations such as the United Nations to enter their country and to investigate into human rights being violated.
After human rights are violated and crimes against humanity such as genocide occur, the United Nations usually comes in and gives aid to the people people that have been affected. Yes, the United Nations raised over 1. 3 billion dollars for Bangladesh, but the UN would not have to raise this massive amount of money to support the country if they could past national sovereignty laws and prevent the genocide from occurring in the beginning. (Jahan 305) Before the Dhaka massacre, India was in contact with United Nations officials about the occurring conflict in Bangladesh, but the United Nations did not intervene.
Even in today’s society, massacres are occurring in Darfur and the United Nations can’t intervene on the situation due to the national sovereignty law. After the genocide occurred, the relationship between the Hindu and Islamic people changed due to the genocide. The ideology that Pakistani people and the Islamic people are far more superior to the Hindu people occurred during the genocide. This still exists today in society. (Jahan 300) This has created tension among the two cultural groups.
When Pakistan and their allied countries such as China never recognized Bangladesh as a country and blocked them from entering the United Nations council for over a year, this created an unfriendly relationship after the genocide. With the educated people going back to schools in Bangladesh, new conflict was created among the Hindus and Islamic people. Colleges and Universities became a very dangerous place for students and teachers that were familiar with the use of weapons and the guerilla tactics during the genocide used their education to create conflict among their culture groups. Jahan 306) With the students using their education to kill each other and creating the atmosphere that universities and colleges were one of the most dangerous places to be in the country; this became a negative impact on the countries growth and ultimately resulted in a lower standard of educational institutions. Another example of the sadistic relationship among the Pakistani and Bengali government resulted in violence once again.
When the peace treaty was being formed between the Pakistan and Indian government, Pakistan threatened to kill over 400,000 Bengalis who were stranded in West Pakistan. The reason why Pakistan threatened to kill over 400,000 Bengalis, because they felt they were superior to the Bengalis and felt that they were not at the same social class as the Pakistani. (Genocidebangldesh) In retaliation, the Bengalis threatened to kill Pakistan army officials who were arrested in Bangladesh during the genocide.
The army officials that were captured by the Bangladesh government was prisoners of war during the genocide. Not only did the Pakistani threaten to kill the Bengalis nationalists that were stranded in West Pakistan, but the Islamic militant groups placed in Bangladesh during the genocide from the Pakistan army, created fear among the Hindu people. (Narain. Icpsnet) Groups such as the Al – Badr and Al – Shams, who slaughtered Hindus in the name of Islam, were never found guilty of their involvement during the genocide. However they created fear in the Bengali people. Jahan 304) Bengali people feared that another genocide would occur again soon, with perpetrators of the Al – Badr and Al – Shams walking among them and never found guilty of their actions and involvement during the genocide.
With the Bihari people still living in Bangladesh today, there was the major impact that separated the Hindu and Islam people and created tension between Bangladesh and Pakistan countries. Even in today’s society, Bihari people are still titled as collaborators of genocide and informants for the Pakistani army. Jahan 305) With the Bihari people still living in Bangladesh, Bengalis are reminded every day of the genocide that occurred over three decades ago and still have hatred for the Bihari people who are a Muslim based culture. This results in acts of violence towards the Bihari people. A year after the Bangladesh genocide occurred, a peace treaty was signed between Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. This led to the principles that would allow the countries to govern their future relations; it also encourages steps to be taken toward further normalization of mutual relations.
In the end, it bounded the two countries together and ended with Bangladesh sending all prisoners of war back to Pakistan. Pakistan and the contributions of their allies recognized Bangladesh and stopped the blockage of allowing Bengali government to enter the UN council. Since the peace treaty, there has been signed three more agreements created and made progress in relations. In August 1975, Pakistan extended its hand in peace by sending Bangladesh 50,000 tonnes of rice and 15 million yards of cloth while the Bengali people were suffering from a famine. Nidhi Narain) Relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh still continue and prosper today with both countries participating in official meetings and discussing new peace agreements and other government policies. In the 1980s, Pakistan sent a good will gift for the Bangladesh government by sending six F-6 fighter aircrafts to the Bangladesh air force. (Nidhi Narain) The relationship improved between Pakistan and Bangladesh, but they will never forget that the genocide occurred. Bangladesh people will forever think about all the families that were lost due to the ideology that Pakistani people thought they were superior.
With the Bihari refugee issue still being a concern in today’s society, the Bangladesh people are still tormented by their involvement in the genocide, and the fact they live among each other is still an insult to the memory of their deceased relative. With the Bangladesh genocide occurring three decades ago, the impacts of the genocide are still being dealt with today within the country. This has had a negative effect and has stunt the growth of the country. According to human rights organizations, “human rights violations have been increasing and have been on a close watch from organizations. (Catherwood 43) In 2002, human rights organizations accounted more than four hundred and twenty deaths and eighty seven thousand people injured due to political motivated violence. This includes security forces committing a number of extrajudicial killings and assaults on Bihari refugees. In the Bangladesh constitution, it states that “it prohibits torture and cruel treatment to their people or prisoners” (Catherwood 43) but reports indicate that police use these same tactics.
This includes threats, psychological torture, and electric shock baton which are a famous tool of violence in the Bangladesh society. (Catherwood 43) Not only did security forces commit extrajudicial killings, but resulted for the death of over eighty three people in 2003. Fifteen of whom died in the anticrime drive called “Operation Clean Heart. ” (Nidhi Narain) This was an anti-crime operation that ran nationwide in 2002–2003. This resulted in new laws to prohibit law suits for the prosecution of human rights violations during that period.
This is a significant example of how human rights are being broken, even though they are part of the United Nations. Once again, national sovereignty allows the country to govern their own citizens without outside interference and impacting the progression of the Bangladesh country. With reports being released into the public that government officials have been conducting massacres upon their own citizens, the government has used their power to control over the use of reporters and their information. Bangladesh has been banning and hiding information from he public that criticizes the government and their actions. (Catherwood 43) In 2003, reporters were subjected to imprisonment if they criticize the government publicly. The same year, three reporters were killed while reporting the corruption and growing power of militant Islam within the country. Discrimination and violence against women have also increased since the genocide was committed. During the genocide over two hundred thousand women were raped which created dishonour within the female community.
With the amount of rape that was conducted within the genocide, the rates of suicide increased among women. Not only were women being affected by dishonour of the Pakistani raping, but their own people started to discriminate against them. Bengalis would ignore their own women that were sexually tortured by the hands of the Pakistani army. Women were then use for prostitution and subjected to male aggression. Women’s trafficking is increasing every year and sexual slavery is forced upon the victims. This has increased the spread of aids and other sexual transmitted diseases.
This has caused human rights organizations to try and stop human trafficking within the Bangladesh country, and to stop the spread of deadly sexual transmitted disease such as aids and HIV. (Jahan 306) The abuse of women has also increased leading to women rights and human violations, and thus resulting in years of education and equity among sexes to be forgotten. Not only has the status of women changed within the country, the government has become strict towards their people and their actions, and the human rights that are being broken have stunt the growth of their country.
All the killings that took place during the genocide created a negative impact on the country for years after the genocide. When the genocide ended and Bangladesh people tried to return back to their daily routine, farm lands were flooded with bodies. Many pits of dead bodies were discovered and agricultural lands were spoiled due to dead corpses. This resulted in a famine within the country which lasted for ten months. With the famine occurring, another 1. 5 million people died within Bangladesh. This resulted in over five million people dead in five years.
This created a ruined economy for the Bangladesh government and was a long lasting impact on the country. In 1972 when Bangladesh was recognized and allowed to enter the UN after the peace treaty was signed between Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, the country has made some growth within its own society. This has resulted in increasing friendly relations with the Pakistan state, and has been a positive impact since the genocide occurred. Bangladesh has also been able to stop majority of the violence among the Hindus and Islamic people within their educational system.
This advancement also led to the new creation of an educational institution where it is safe to go to school. These have been positive impacts since the genocide occurred, but the human rights violations have increased and are not being addressed properly to stop these issues from continuing again. For years now we have been learning the equality of males and females, but in Bangladesh the new generation has forgotten and not been educated enough about how both sexes are equal to one another.
This leads to women human rights being violated through sexual slavery and abuse. The Bangladesh genocide that occurred in the 1971 led to the liberation war which was fought for the independence of Bangladesh to protect their people from the human rights that were being violated by the Pakistani army. This resulted in the United Nations failing to protect human rights because of the law of National Sovereignty, which prohibits the interference for a human rights organization to enter a county against their wishes.
This created a negative impact between the Hindu and Islamic culture as well as the relations among Pakistan and Bangladesh. If United Nations was able to get past national sovereignty, Bangladesh would never have lost over five million people in the span of five years, and generations of families would not have been lost due to the ideology that the Pakistani government were superior to the Bengalis. This is why United Nations should act responsibly and politics should not be involved when human rights are being violated.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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