As the UN marks International Day of Victims of Genocide on Wednesday, India called for paying homage to the three million people killed and hundreds of thousands of women raped by the Pakistan Army and religious militias in the 1971 Liberation War , describing it the “most horrific episode in human history”.
The war in 1971 began after the sudden crackdown at midnight on March 25 that year in erstwhile East Pakistan by Pakistani troops and ended on December 16 as Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising Bengali freedom fighters and the Indian Army.
Officially, three million people were killed during the nine-month-long war.
“UN International Day of Victims of Genocide on 9 Dec. Let’s pay homage to 3 million killed & 200,000 or more women raped in erstwhile East Pakistan by the Pakistan army & religious militias in 1971 in most horrific episode in human history. Never again,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti tweeted, with the hashtag #PreventGenocide.
The International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime is observed on December 9.
In his message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said genocide was the most heinous of crimes, encompassing all it touches in a tsunami of hate and destruction.
“It is an assault on our most fundamental shared values,” he said.
The Genocide Convention, adopted in December 1948 in the aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II, was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly, he said, adding that it remains as relevant as ever.
“We work to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes — crimes which are sadly still being perpetrated with impunity and no regard for the sanctity of human life,” Mr. Guterres said.
Also read: Comment | The road to genocide
During her address to the UN General Assembly in September 2017, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Pakistan’s Army had launched a “heinous” military operation in 1971 which triggered a “genocide” during the liberation war , killing three million innocent people.
“In the 1971 war of liberation, we endured an extreme form of genocide. In the nine-month-long war of liberation against Pakistan, three million innocent people were killed and more than 2,00,000 women were violated,” Ms. Hasina said.
“The Pakistan military launched the heinous ‘Operation Searchlight’ on 25 March, which was the beginning of the 1971 genocide. The 1971 genocide included targeted elimination of individuals on the grounds of religion, race and political belief. The intellectuals were killed brutally,” Ms.Hasina had said.