The facts of 1971 Genocide are well documented, yet it has not been recognised in the UN discourses, says Bangladesh.
"We believe UN's mandate to advance prevention will be incomplete if the past tragedies, such as ours, remain un-recognized," said Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations.
She made the remarks at a virtual seminar on "Genocide prevention: recognition of past tragedies and restoring dignity of victims" organized by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN in New York as part of the observance of the National Genocide Day 2022.
Professor John Hubbel Weiss, of Cornell University was the key-note speaker of the discussion while Ambassador Sven Alkalaj, Permanent Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador SovaanKe Permanent Representative of Cambodia and Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul, Prosecutor, International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh attended as panelists. Under Secretary General Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide also delivered a statement at the event.
Ambassador Fatima presented the historical context of the 1971 genocide, and the savages that were launched with "Operation Searchlight" on the 25th of March 1971 that left 3 million civilians killed, 200,000 women raped and 10 million people forcibly displaced across border.
"The mass killings of 25th of March, which was intended to crush our aspiration for political freedom and independence once for all, turned instead into a nine-month long war of liberation, culminating in the birth of independent Bangladesh, led by the clarion call for independence by our Founding Father," said Ambassador Fatima.
In her statement, Under-Secretary-General Nderitu stated that the crimes of genocide and atrocity crimes are the most gruesome ones and Bangladesh knows from its own history the enduring scars of these grave violations.
She emphasized on strengthening early warning system and combat hate speech to prevent genocide.
Professor John Hubbel Weiss from Cornell University, in his keynote address elaborated the legal and historical aspects of other genocides committed elsewhere and how recognition of those contributed to the restoration of dignity of the victims.
Sharing his experience of visiting the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh, he praised Bangladesh's efforts in memorialization of the genocide.
Ambassador Sovaan Ketermed the 1971 genocide as the second largest genocide in the history after the holocaust. He also shared the experience of Cambodia, especially in ensuring justice to help the victims heal of genocide.
The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina shed lights on the failure of international community in preventing genocide in Srebrenica and urged all to recognize and address the early warning signs.
Barrister Tapas kanti Baul, Prosecutor of International Crime Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICTBD) highlighted the good practices from the trial of the individuals accused of genocide and other international crimes under the principle of complementarity and suggested formation of national tribunals to ensure better connection with and healing of the victims of genocide.
Later in the afternoon, the Permanent Mission observed the 'National Genocide Day' at its Bangabandhu Auditorium.
At the beginning of the event, a minute of silence was observed to commemorate the day, and candles were lit in memory of the martyrs of the genocide.
After that, the message of the President and the Prime Minister was recited and special prayers were offered in memory of the martyrs.
Ambassador Rabab Fatima delivered the welcome address in the open discussion session.
"We are working with the United Nations for international recognition of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh, and we will continue our effort until this genocide is recognized internationally", she said.
In both events, documentary video on the 25 March genocide was displayed.