Two-page document that touches justice
A mind unsettled at the zero hour
Dec 31 – the last day of 2021. The clock soon would announce the zero hour in Bangladesh to embrace a new year! The Dhaka dwellers were in a joyous mood to welcome 2022. But I was then a bit unsettled, counting time with a split mind. The dark skies of the capital city blinked with colourful fireworks. Even the heavy air due to the clamours of the crackers in fits and starts could not properly engage me. Surpassing all these lights and noises, my ears rather remained alert to get a ‘ting’ sound from my mobile phone, and my heart started beating fast. These led me away from concentrating on the entering as well as engaging moments of a new year as I was then yearning for something more blissful to arrive electronically from a land several thousand miles away from Dhaka. I was basically waiting for a very important document containing an endorsement of the horrific barbarities that took place all over Bangladesh back in 1971 – the genocide.
The two-page document
In fact, at the time of its birth – Bangladesh had to experience one of the worst genocides of the century, one that still is not duly recognised all over the globe. On the last day of Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention (LIGP), a US-based organisation focused on researches to prevent genocide, cracked the recognition deadlock by issuing that very document. I was communicated beforehand to receive that, due to which my mind got split at the time of marking the start of the new year. Irene Victoria Massimino and Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, the co-founders and co-presidents of the Institute, know quite clearly through their work how genocide occurred in Bangladesh in 1971. The team at Lemkin Institute worked hard to come up with the wordings of this document titled Statement on the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971. Basically, in response to my appeal and continuous exchanges with them which I started in mid-November last year as a member of a victim family and a citizen of Bangladesh, LIGP decided to respond positively. As a result, this two-page document finally reached me with a clear recognition of the atrocities and crimes committed all over Bangladesh in 1971 as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention (LIPG) works with people around the world to promote genocide prevention, human security, restorative dialogue, mental health literacy, and peace-building education and training as well as to offer tools for grassroots responses to conflict. In the process, it seeks to inform the world about global grassroots efforts to end the cycle of genocide. The LIGP is driven by the belief that the most important prevention work happens at the grassroots level. The approach to human security that LIGP follows is based on the observation that true long-term human security grows from the grassroots and is built over time through broad, internal, social and cultural commitments to justice.
To celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s Liberation War as well as the 50th anniversary of the genocide, it collaborated with the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka to run an important project titled 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh: A Micro-course. The project contains five micro-courses that cover five vital aspects of the Liberation War and the genocide. These are: the emergence of Bangladesh and its historical struggle towards independence, the refugee crisis, the victims of sexual violence, the killing of intellectuals, and the International Crimes Tribunal.
Alongside this, the LIGP has been working on the issue of the Bangladesh genocide for a while both in historical and legal terms. They are convinced that what happened to Bengalis in 1971 was genocide and that West Pakistan’s policies prior to 1971 were genocidal in intent and nature.
A historic move
Due to their capacity and clarity on this very case, they did serve this vital statement with confidence, and probably this is the first document of this nature from any international organisation. Undoubtedly this is a historic move, which is not only a great tribute to the innocent millions who were the victims of the Bangladesh genocide, but also it paves the way to all other organisations and countries to come forward to endorse the Bangladesh case as genocide. Finally, the LIPG statement is an instrumental addition to the long journey of achieving due international recognition of the Bangladesh genocide.
(c) 2022, BD News