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Bangladesh Parliament passes motion to mark March 25 as Genocide Day
Monday, March 13th, 2017 08:53 pm
Parliament has passed a motion declaring Mar 25 as Bangladesh’s Genocide Day to commemorate one of the worst atrocities in human history unleashed by the Pakistani occupation forces on that night in 1971.
The legislators unanimously passed the motion moved by JaSoD MP Shirin Akhter after a seven-hour discussion on Saturday.
A total of 56 MPs, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Raushon Ershad, took part in the discussion.
The motion, placed before the house after the session started at 3pm with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury as chair.
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. The executive will take the next step after the passage now.
The Pakistan Army swooped on the unarmed innocent Bengalis on the night of Mar 25, 1971, to subjugate their struggle for freedom.
Codenamed ‘Operation Searchlight’ they carried out genocide in the first hours of that night in Dhaka.
Bengalis put up a valiant resistance and snatched victory on Dec 16 after nine months of Liberation War.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence before being arrested by the Pakistani forces on that night.
But, the undisputed leader of the Bengalis had effectively announced the nation’s independence at the historic Mar 7 rally at the Race Course grounds, when he unequivocally uttered: “This time, the struggle is for our freedom. This time, the struggle is for our independence.”
After the discussion, Shirin Sharmin put the motion for voice-vote, and it was passed with the Speaker declared the motion passed unanimously. The MPs thumped the table in support of the motion.
In the discussion, Prime Minister Hasina urged the MPs to pass the motion. “There is no need of proof of this genocide. Several media around the world depicted how the genocide was committed,” she said.
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad said, “This is genocide because they wanted to erase the Bengalis as a nation. And we achieved independence in exchange for this blood. If we insult this blood, it will be an insult to the independence and Bangabandhu.”
“The proclamation of independence came well before that time, on Mar 7,” he said.
However, ousted military dictator Ershad is often criticised for returning to West Pakistan without taking part in the Liberation War. He also headed the Pakistan Army tribunal to try Bengali officers for deserting and fighting against the Pakistani forces.
Speaking about the matter, Ershad said, “It’s the biggest regret of my life that I could not take part in the Liberation War. I became a lieutenant colonel in 1969 and transferred to Karachi on Dec 29, 1970. I took a month of leave in 1971 and returned to Karachi in February. The war began in March.”
“I called General Osmani on the phone at the time. He said, ‘The War is yet to start. You are a soldier. You must follow the order,” Ershad said.
The leader of the Opposition, Raushon Ershad, said, “We’ll have to know the correct history of the Liberation War and pass it to the next generation.”
“It’s needless to say that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the Father of the Nation. The debate of the matter should stop. I saw him closely, and I feel blessed for this. We bear the Mar 7 speech in our hearts,” she said.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed criticised BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for doubting the number of Liberation War martyrs.
According to him, ‘even’ a son of Jamaat-Islami founder Syed Abul A’la Maududi referred to a publication of the party and said the Pakistani forces killed 3.5 million Bengalis in 1971. Jamaat is the party that opposed Bangladesh’s independence.
“I condemn those who raise question over the number,” Tofail said.
The Awami League leader also proposed to observe Dec 1 as ‘Freedom Fighters’ Day’.
Workers Party President and Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon called for steps to get international recognition of the Day.
“Pakistanis are still conducting genocide, in Baluchistan now,” he said.
JaSoD president Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said, “The ghost of Pakistan is still in Bangladesh. The Day has to be observed so that the anti-liberation forces cannot come to power anymore.”