In a move to formally recognise the atrocities committed against ethnic Bangalis and Hindus by the Pakistani armed forces in 1971 as a "genocide" and "crime against humanity", two US lawmakers on Saturday introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives.
This is a major development in earning global recognition of massacres by the Pakistani army on unarmed civilians in 1971 as genocide, observes Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, director of the Centre of Genocide Studies at Dhaka University.
If the resolution is passed in the US senate and approved by the US president, Bangladesh could go to the UN seeking recognition of the 1971 genocide, Professor Dr Imtiaz told The Business Standard.
At the same time, Pakistan would be compelled to offer an apology for its heinous activities in 1971, he added.
Congressman Steve Chabot and Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna introduced the resolution in the US House of Representatives on early 15 October 2022, calling on Pakistan to offer apologies to the people of Bangladesh for its role in such a genocide, reports UNB.
The Bangladesh Genocide of 1971 must not be forgotten, Chabot said.
"With help from my Hindu constituents in Ohio's First District, Rep Ro Khanna and I introduced legislation to recognise that the mass atrocities committed against Bangalis and Hindus, in particular, were indeed a genocide," he said.
Chabot said they must not let the years erase the memory of the millions who were massacred.
"Recognising the genocide strengthens the historical record, educates our fellow Americans, and lets would-be perpetrators know such crimes will not be tolerated or forgotten," he tweeted.
"Proud to join Rep Steve Chabot in introducing the first resolution commemorating the 1971 Bangali Genocide in which millions of ethnic Bangalis and Hindus were killed or displaced in one of the most forgotten genocides of our time," Khanna said.
The 8-page resolution titled "Recognising the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971" calls on the government of Pakistan, in the face of overwhelming evidence, to offer acknowledgement of its role in such genocide, offer formal apologies to the government and people of Bangladesh, and prosecute, in accordance with international law, any perpetrators who are still living, reports UNB.
It condemns the atrocities committed by the Armed Forces of Pakistan against the people of Bangladesh from March 1971 to December 1971; recognises that such atrocities against Bangalis and Hindus constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide; recalls the death and suffering of the countless victims of such atrocities and expresses its deep sympathy for the suffering.
Asked how Bangladesh will benefit from global recognition of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh, Pradip Kumar Dutta, a campaigner for the cause, said it will help in three ways. Firstly, Pakistan will face pressure from the international community to offer Bangladesh an unconditional apology for the atrocities unleashed by its army in Bangladesh during the 1971 liberation war.
Secondly, he added, it will make the call louder for reparation from Pakistan to the genocide victims including those who were martyred, tortured, raped and forced to roam around for safety within the country or take refuge in camps across the border in India.
"By UN definition, around 6 lakh people who died in Indian camps during the liberation war were also genocide victims," said Pradip, whose father was martyred in Chattogram during the liberation war and who is associated with the Netherlands-based community organisation Bangladesh Support Group that raised the issue at the United Nations.
"Finally, UN recognition, once gained, will make strong ground for Bangladesh to demand bringing the perpetrators of 1971 genocide to trial, no matter they are alive or dead," he said, referring to instances of prosecution of the 2nd World War criminals.