The International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF) has demanded constitutional recognition of genocide perpetrated during 1971 in Bangladesh and making “Global Recognition of Bangladesh Genocide” an inseparable part of foreign policy.
The ICSF, which maintains a global connection amongst the pro-liberation individuals and organisations, also laid emphasis on expressing the lessons learned from previous genocides in conducting state affairs.
Bengali diaspora can be a formidable force in terms of securing the global recognition of genocide perpetrated in Bangladesh during 1971, said a media release on Friday.
ICSF, along with members of Australian Bangladeshi diaspora, arranged a programme to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the genocide and independence.
As a part of the programme, ICSF and members of Australian Bangladeshi diaspora arranged an online discussion event titled, “Global Recognition of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide” on March 25, which has been declared “Bengali Genocide Remembrance Day” by the government.
Viewers from at least 26 cities of Bangladesh, Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan logged in to participate in the programme.
The discussion started at 4pm Bangladesh time and was broadcast live through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Columnist Dr Ezaz Mamun from Canberra inaugurated the discussion with his welcome speech.
He provided the historical context of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide and its global recognition. It was followed by one-minute silence in remembrance of the genocide, and then a critically acclaimed documentary titled “Creed for Justice” was played.
At this point, the main discussion began where discussants talked about various dimensions of global recognition of Bangladesh Genocide.
Former Chair of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission Prof Mizanur Rahman moderated the discussion.
At the beginning of the discussion, trustee of ICSF Dr Rayhan Rashid, expounded on organisational stance on global recognition of Bangladesh genocide.
On behalf of ICSF, three specific recommendations were made to the government: Genocide perpetrated during 1971 needs to be included in the constitution of Bangladesh to secure its constitutional recognition; “Global Recognition of Bangladesh Genocide” should be treated as an inseparable part of foreign policy; and there should be reflections of the lessons learned from previous genocides in conducting state affairs.
Bangladeshi parliamentarian Shirin Akhtar mentioned that the parliamentary resolution taken in 2017 on Genocide Remembrance Day is legally non-binding. This is why she promised to discuss with the Prime Minister the point of including the matter of 1971 genocide into the constitution.
She also expressed her willingness and resoluteness to work toward global recognition of the Bangladesh genocide along with her like-minded colleagues.
Member of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission Dr Namita Halder commented that genocide was the highest form of human rights violation. She also promised to ask the government through BHRC to get further involved in the work of securing global recognition of 1971 Bangladesh Genocide.
In response to questions/points raised on behalf of ICSF, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Australia reassured that Bangladesh Foreign Ministry will certainly work with the diaspora to secure the global recognition of Bangladesh genocide.
He mentioned that all the diplomatic missions of Bangladesh around the globe can work in tandem and utilise their networks to further the cause of this global recognition of Bangladesh genocide.
Professor Emeritus of Macquarie University echoed ICSF’s proposal saying that it is especially important for the issue of global recognition of Bangladesh genocide to become a part of Bangladesh’s foreign policy.
He also stressed the importance of quality academic research work on Bangladesh genocide.
Another trustee of ICSF said that to secure global recognition, we will have to talk about our own genocide, do our own research, and continue the movement. No one else will do it for us.
Among the members of the Bangladeshi Australian diaspora, Lilac Shahid, Dr Kamal Uddin, Dr Abu Taher Mollick, and Ignatious Rozario also spoke during the discussion.
The moderator took questions from Facebook, zoom, and other social media platforms all throughout the programme and had relevant discussants respond to them.
After the discussion, moderator Prof Mizanur Rahman provided a summary and said, “Till now, 1971 Bangladesh genocide has failed to get recognition. We don’t want to understand politics; we don’t want to become a part of geopolitics and its myriad equations; we just want justice for the crime and savagery perpetrated on our people, on our country, on our motherland.”
Towards the very end, former professor at Queensland University Dr Mohammad Alauddin thanked all the organisers, volunteers who worked behind the scenes, and all the people who actively asked questions and made comments.
He also expressed his hopefulness as he concluded the programme.
Apart from the discussion, ICSF arranged a couple of other events to commemorate March 25: Genocide Remembrance Day.
One of them was a call to don profile picture on social media platforms with hashtags #recognise1971genocide and #recognisebangladeshgenocide to bring people together to demand global recognition of Bangladesh genocide.
The other one was a virtual candlelight vigil – a call to post a short video clip or a still of a candle at the first hour of March 25 to commemorate the genocide and show respect to the martyrs.
Thousands of Bengalis responded to this call from all over the world.
The ICSF is an independent global network of experts and activists operating in the interest of justice for the victims and a long-time campaigner for recognition of international crimes committed against the Bengali populace in 1971.