The United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Various other definitions can be found in scholarly literature, but they have no legal weight. National Genocide acts framed within the spirit and principles of the UN convention are enforced in the legal process. The list of genocides by death toll includes death toll estimates of all deaths that are either directly or indirectly caused by genocide. It does not include non-genocidal mass killing such as the death and destruction by invaders like Chengis Khan and Mughal advances in India, the Thirty Years’ War, Japanese War, the atrocities of the Congo Free State, the 1955-65 Indonesian War or the Great Leap Forward of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign by the Communist Party of China from 1958 to 1962.
The worst among them according to scale of atrocities are the Holocaust in Germany and subjugated Europe from 1942 to 1945 with 11,000,000 killed, i.e. 80% of the Jewish people living there; Holodomor in Ukrainian Soviet Republic from 1832-1833 with 7,500,000; Cambodian Genocide from 1979 to 1997 that killed 33% of local population; Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Empire i.e. territories of present-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq; Rwandan genocide from 1994 to 1999 having 1,000,000 or 70% of Tutsis in Rwanda killed; Greek Genocide including the Pontic people from 1914 to 1922, Assyrian Genocide from 1914 to 1920 that killed 750,000 Assyrians; Zunghar genocide in the Zunghar Khanate, with 600,000 killed; Porajmos (Romani genocide in Nazi controlled territory having 50,000 or 25% Romani killed; Genocide by the Ustaše in Croatia from 1941 to 1945; and Bangladesh Genocide during 9 months in 1971 with 3,000,000 people killed. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-organised, persecution and murder of approximately 6 million Jews by the GermanNazi government and its collaborators. Initially it was carried out in German-occupied Eastern Europe by paramilitary death squads (by shooting or, less frequently, using ad hoc built gassing vehicles, and later in extermination camps by gassing. By extending its definition the Holocaust may also refer to the other victims of German war crimes during the rule of the Nazis, such as the Roman Genocide victims, Poles and other Slavic civic population, POWs and victims of Germany’s eugenic programmes against political opponents.
About Bangladesh Genocide, Wikipedia writes, “Bangladesh genocide. Massacres, killings, rape, arson and systematic elimination of religious minorities (particularly Hindus), political dissidents and the members of the liberation forces of Bangladesh were conducted by the Pakistan Army with support from paramilitary militias – the Rajakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams - formed by the radical Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami.
Bnagladesh Jatiya Sansad has unanimously passed a motion moved by MP Shirin Akhter after a seven-hour discussion on Saturday, 11 March 2017. With Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury in the chair, 56 MPs, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Raushan Ershad, took part in the discussion to support the motion. The motion reads: “It is Parliament’s opinion that Mar 25 be declared Genocide Day to commemorate the genocide conducted by the atrocious Pakistani forces on the black night of Mar 25, 1971, and necessary steps are taken to have the Day recognised internationally.” MP Shirin moved the motion under Rule No. 147 of the parliament’s rules of procedure, which allows MPs to move motions for consideration on the ground of public interest. Now that the resolution has got through, it is the executive which is responsible to take the next step for its proper implementation.
The Pakistan Army mercilessly cracked down on the unarmed innocent Bengali civilians on the night of 25 March1971 to suppress their struggle for freedom. Through the so-called ‘Operation Searchlight’ they carried out genocide in the first hours of that fateful night in Dhaka. Bengali elements in the Pakistan Armed Forces together with the freedom-loving youth put up a valiant resistance and snatched victory after about nine months Liberation War on 16 December the same year. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formally declared independence before being arrested by the Pakistani forces on that night through clandestine channels, followed by broadcast from the Kalurghat Radio Station on 27 March.
However, the undisputed leader of the Bengalis had effectively declared the nation’s independence in the historic 7 March mammoth public meeting at the Race Course grounds, when he unequivocally declared: “This time, the struggle is for our freedom. This time, the struggle is for independence.” Abandoning the negotiation for a peaceful solution at Hotel Intercontinental, President Yahya Khan and the West Pakistan majority leader Zulfiqer Ali Bhutto left Dhaka un-noticed before Army mayhem started and they arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmondi residence and had him flown to Islamabad. Bangabandhu was confined in Lrkana throught the war time.
Workers Party President and Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon called for steps to get international recognition of the Day.
This demand is justified by acts. Among worst genocides in history in terms of number of death the German Holocaust comes first with 11,000,000, followed by Holodomor in Ukraine with 7,500,000 and Cambodian genocide with 3,000,000, which equals that of Bangladesh. In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”). The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the Genocide Convention and its role in combating and preventing the crime of genocide, as defined in the Convention, and to commemorate and honour its victims. In adopting the resolution, without a vote, the 193-member Assembly reiterated the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, which entails the prevention of such a crime, including incitement to it. “Member States and the international community must honour the suffering of the victims of genocide, and of their families, by working even harder against expressions of hatred, intolerance, racism and xenophobia.” said the former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. As regards the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971, it is worthwhile to pursue internationalisation of the commemoration of the day. Bangladesh Parliament is going in the right direction. For world-wide commemoration of the day we have to start a vigorous campaign, of course not forgetting the painful fact that we have not yet been able to bring any Pakistani perpetrators to justice, while we satisfied ourselves by taking some of the local collaborators to the gallows.
The writer, a former civil servant, is Executive Director, Centre for Governance Studies