“The people of Bangladesh must respond to those who have been lost in their love for Pakistan. They must be punished. We must make them forget their love for Pakistan,” she told a Genocide Day event on Sunday.
“If we cannot do it, we will cease to exist,” she told the event organised by the Awami League at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka to remember the victims of the genocide carried out by Pakistan on Mar 25, 1971.
Awami League President Hasina said Bangladesh moved backwards after the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
She called ‘lovers of Pakistan’ BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, who grabbed power after the assassination of Bangabandhu, and his wife Khaleda Zia, who is the current chief of the party.
“The entire history changed after ’75. Even the words ‘Pakistani occupation forces’ could not be uttered. People had to call them only ‘occupation forces’ in an effort to make them forget that the forces were Pakistani, such was the love for Pakistan,” Hasina scoffed.
The prime minister said those who came to power after 1975 never wanted the people’s fate to change.
“They did not want the country to progress. They were implementing the agenda of the Pakistani occupation forces.
“Pakistan would be happy if Bangladesh became a failed state and they (Bangladeshi rulers after 1975) wanted to make Pakistan happy,” she said.
She also mentioned HM Ershad, who came to power after Ziaur Rahman, and said, “All of them had the same agenda.”
Ershad, the chief of a key ally of the Awami League, now serves as a special envy of the prime minister.
When the Bengalis saw no option but independence from Pakistan, the Pakistani occupation forces swooped down on the unarmed Bengalis on the night of Mar 25.
Bangladesh is observing the day as Genocide Day for two years now after parliament passed a motion recognising the day.
Bangladesh has been demanding that the United Nations declare the day as the World Genocide Day as a sign of protest against the genocides carried out around the globe.
The United Nations, however, in September 2015, recognised Dec 9 as International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime.
Dec 9 is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide or the ‘Genocide Convention’.
Hasina noted in her speech the UN had already declared Genocide Prevention Day and added, “But different countries separately observe the day of the beginning of genocides they had suffered.”
For the genocide Bangladesh has gone through, she said, the local collaborators of the Pakistani forces were equally responsible.
“Their trial on this soil must continue. They don’t deserve forgiveness,” she said, referring to ongoing war crimes trial.