The distortion of history is a crime
Anwar A Khan wright for Observer
Genocide specialist Jerry Costello has said, "Genocide is the most potent of all crimes against humanity because it is an effort to systematically wipe out a people and a culture as well as individual lives." It is emboldening that almost after 46 years of our independence Bangladesh's parliament has passed a proposal for a new law to punish those who distort the history of genocide and Liberation War of Bangladesh.
It is also staggeringly goodness to get a line that the Law Ministry has already drafted a bill titled 'Bangladesher Muktijodder Itihas Bikritikoron Oporadh Ain' to check distortion of the history of the 1971 Liberation War. "The draft bill will be placed before the Cabinet soon and it'll be passed in the current parliament" the Law Minister said.
Some countries, including Cyprus have adopted laws that punish genocide denial. In October 2006, the French National Assembly approved the Armenian Genocide denial a crime. On December 22, 2011, the lower house of the French legislature approved a bill making it a crime punishable by a year in prison to publicly deny as genocide the killing of Armenians by troops of Turkey's former Ottoman Empire.
On January 23, 2012, the French Senate adopted the law criminalizing genocide denial. In 2016 the French Parliament completely adopted the new bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial. Besides that, many more countries in the world do have Holocaust denial law.
Bangladesh government has declared March 25 Genocide Day. The systematic mass killings in Bangladesh in 1971 can be classified as genocide. The genocide started with Operation Searchlight, a planned military pacification carried out by the West Pakistani Army on 25 March 1971 to curb the Bengali nationalist movement.
Major human right abuses and killings were a sad reality of the crisis; those killed included all segments of people. The international media and English reference books have published casualty figures to the tune of 3 million, in addition to those who fled the country totalling more than 10 million as a result of Pakistani government brutality. This act of genocide is officially termed "human rights abuses" by the Bangladesh authorities.
The original purpose of the 1948 "UN Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide" was to prevent recurrences of some of the most grievous acts committed by mankind against his fellow man. The Bangladesh massacre is, to this day, seen as one of the greatest failures of the United Nations to recognise. But "Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity" has been correctly spelt out by Herbert Hoover.
Genocide is intentional action to destroy an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group in whole or in part. The word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word génos ("race, people") and the Latin suffix 'cide' ("act of killing"). The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".
The first part of the word 'Holo' means whole, and the second part of the word 'causton' means burnt, so the word 'Holocaust' means 'totally burnt'. Charging genocide is thus claiming great victimisation that confers amoral authority on the victims to be heard and to demand change. Also, it is a powerful indictment of a group that it is committing, or standing by in the face of, mass violence. In the area of law making at least two basic policy changes are called for. These changes are aimed at curbing the escalation of the war on crime in general and to lawfully punish those criminals who dare to deny the 1971 mass killing and similar other grievous crimes in particular.
The intentional systematic annihilation of 3 million Bangladesh's people by the Pakistanis and their collaborators is similar to holocaust. The 1971 Holocaust in Bangladesh is an extreme form of genocide. The Pakistan army and some Bangla-speaking people were the perpetrators, and we were their victims.
Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "We have learned important lessons. We know more keenly than ever that genocide is not a single event but a process that evolves over time, and requires planning and resources to carry out. As chilling as that sounds, it also means that with adequate information, mobilization, courage and political will, genocide can be prevented."
Understanding the way genocide occurs and learning to recognise signs that could lead to genocide are important in making sure that such horrors do not happen again. To deter people from committing crimes of genocide, those responsible for such crimes need to be brought to justice. Fighting impunity and establishing a credible expectation that the perpetrators of genocide and related crimes will be held accountable can effectively contribute to prevention.
Senior journalist Nadeem Qadir said, "There are many other attempts to distort history, including the number of people killed in the genocide carried out by the Pakistani army. Those who try to distort this history are Pakistani puppets, or they have not seen Bangladesh painted red during 1971 with the blood of Bengalis. I have seen, and I will never forget. Let this law take effect quickly with harsh punishments for those resorting to distortion."
Anwar A Khan is freelance contributor