UK Parliament urged to recognise genocide in Bangladesh in 1971

The Bangladesh High Commission in London hosts a commemorative event at the British Parliament

Published : 25 March 2024, 10:17 PM
Updated : 25 March 2024, 10:17 PM

Bangladesh has urged the British House of Commons to bring and pass a fresh motion recognising the genocide carried out by Pakistani forces during the Liberation War in 1971. 

The High Commissioner in London Saida Muna Tasneem made the call at a commemorative event hosted by the mission at the Parliament on Bangladesh’s National Genocide Day on Monday, the high commission said in a statement. 

“There is strong documentary and eyewitness evidence that genocide was committed on Bangladesh soil in 1971, yet the world has failed to recognise it,” she said. 

British MPs, academics, legal experts, freedom fighters and community leaders participated in the event titled ‘Remembering the Bangladesh Genocide 1971: The Road to International Recognition”. 

The high commissioner cited several international media reports on the Bengali Genocide, including Anthony Mascarenhas's lead article in the Sunday Times headlined "Genocide" and similar reports on mass atrocities by The Telegraph and BBC that shocked the world and prompted global leaders to act. 

The envoy said, “Sir Peter Shore, MP, who was chair of the UK’s Foreign Affairs Committee in 1971, moved a motion in the UK parliament condemning atrocities committed in erstwhile East Pakistan, followed by another motion, moved by Action Bangladesh and supported by over 233 cross-party members, calling for the end of genocide in East Bengal and the recognition of Bangladesh”. 

The high commissioner commended the US Congress resolution led by Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Steve Chabot, which needs to be emulated in the British parliament. 

She called upon British-Bangladeshi politicians, academia, professionals and community leaders to create greater awareness of the Bangladesh genocide amongst British political, humanitarian and think-tank circles. 

Speaking on the occasion, UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh and Vice Chair of the APPG on Bangladesh Tom Hunt MP said, “The atrocities that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971 during the War of Liberation was an unforgettable event”. 

He assured of working with the Bangladesh High Commission and the diaspora towards creating awareness about the 1971 genocide and introducing a new motion in the UK Parliament to recognise it. 

Lord Rami Ranger, Patron of Conservative Friends of India and the cohost of the event, expressed his support for getting its international recognition. 

Chairman of the British Asian Conservative Link Lord Suri urged the UK policymakers to bring a fresh motion in parliament in favour of international recognition of the genocide in Bangladesh during the nine-month War of Liberation in 1971. 

Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Birmingham Mohammad Shahabuddin said that the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh by the Pakistan Army fulfilled all criteria to be recognised by the UN. 

Val Harding, a trustee of Swadhinata Trust, UK who served as a nurse in a refugee camp in Kolkata during the 1971 War of Liberation, recalled seeing thousands of traumatised and distressed people who sought refuge in India after fleeing atrocities committed by the Pakistani invading army and their local collaborators. 

Professor Nazia M Habib of Cambridge University, daughter of a freedom fighter, remembered how her father witnessed the killings of intellectuals at Dhaka University in 1971 and demanded justice for the victims. Her suggestion was to make systematic efforts, collect more evidence, and collaborate with diplomats and lawyers to obtain UN recognition for the Bengali genocide. 

Organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War Overseas Freedom Movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif, Freedom Fighter and Study Circle Chair Syed Mozammel Ali, Patron of Oxfam UK Azizur Rahman, President of Sammmilito Sangskrtik Jote UK Golam Mostafa and Director of the Swadhinata Trust Ansar Ahmad Ullah also spoke on the occasion.  One minute of silence was observed to commemorate the victims of genocide.