BNA report, Dhaka, 15 Nov.2019: Here are the opening Remarks by Foreign Minister at the Inaugural Session of the 6th International Conference on Bangladesh Genocide and Justice, held in today-Thursday, 14 November 2019 at Liberation War Museum, Dhaka.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As-salamuAlaikum and good afternoon to you all.
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be present here at the inaugural ceremony of the 6th International Conference on Bangladesh Genocide and Justice. I express my deep appreciation to all the experts for your presence here. My sincere thanks go to the Trustees and the authority of the Liberation War Museum who has been organizing this bi-annual event on a regular basis.
Ladies and gentleman
Bangladesh is a country which was born out of devastating yet glorious armed struggle led by the greatest Bangalee of all times, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The liberation war of 1971, although ended with our birth as a sovereign nation, left deep scars of genocide and unimaginable human sufferings, perpetrated by the occupation army of Pakistan and their local collaborators.
Today, as we speak on our journey through genocide and justice, I would like to pay my deepest homage to the memory of the martyrs of our liberation war who laid their lives and also our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who had struggled his whole life for the emancipation of the Bangali nation and led towards the ultimate victory.
Bangladesh has experienced worst form of genocide during its birth. During the 1971 liberation war the people of this land witnessed the brutal killing of 3 million people, displacement of 30 million citizens, of which 10 million had to shelter in neighbour India, violation of more than 200,000 women and wide-spread torture, rape and destruction that started with the Operation Searchlight on 25th March night. According to the report of British journalist Simon Dring in the Daily Telegraph at that time, more than 25000 people were killed on the night of March 25 in Dhaka alone.The pattern of killings show clear intention of the Pakistani junta to destroy certain sections of the society, on the ground of religion, race and political belief.
Bangladesh as a victim of genocide remained committed to prevention of genocide anywhere anytime. We also believe accountability and justice are important steps towards preventing genocide. It also plays important role in reconciliation and healing which is important for sustaining peace. Despite obstacles, Bangladesh has made sure that the perpetrators of 1971 genocide are brought to justice. The trial of individuals responsible for the genocide and crimes against humanity by the international crime tribunals mark significant contribution by Bangladesh to the global slogan of ‘never again’.
This daunting task was possible to accomplish due to very strong commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina towards the cause of genocide and justice.
Ladies and gentlemen
As victim of world’s horrific genocide, Bangladesh from the very beginning of its statehood, always has been supporting the oppressed and violated people around the globe. In line of this principle, our Hon’ble Prime Minister decided to open the border for the Rohingyas who are one of the most persecuted nations of the world. Unless she would have opened her borders, world could witness the 2nd largest genocide since World War II. The Rohingya crisis was created by Myanmar and indeed it has been a problem of long decades in Myanmar. The end of this crisis could happen only by the safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable return of the Rohingyas to their own land. However, to stop recurrence of Rohingya persecution, exodus and bringing the perpetrators of this crisis into justice is crucially important.
To that end, we have remained supportive to the international mechanisms currently in the process towards ensuring justice for the Rohingyas.Bangladesh welcomed the initiative of International Criminal Court and and as a state party to Rome statute provided all cooperation to the prosecution so far. We are also encouraged by the recent submission of case by Gambia to the International Court of Justice on behalf of OIC group under the Genocide Convention 1948. We believe, ending of the culture of impunity would bring some positive development towards the solution of Rohingya crisis.
This Conference has been organized at a time when we are preparing to observe the 50th anniversary of 1971 genocide. Such initiatives are important tools for creating social framework for atrocity prevention. It is also a very effective forum for raising awareness on the past incidents of genocide including the one of 1971.
I hope this august gathering of learned and eminent scholars from all around the world will contribute to the efforts of Bangladesh government for the international recognition of ‘‘1971 Genocide’’. Our government and parliament has adopted 25th March as the Genocide Day of Bangladesh.
We also expect the experts to shed light and develop insights into the existing challenges to international justice institutions in dealing with the crime of genocide and other international crimes.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I end, I would like to express my appreciation to the Liberation War Museum which has been preserving the valorous triumph as well as the indescribable sufferings of the people of Bangladesh in 1971. This Museum has been contributing in upholding the spirit of the great Liberation War and making our new generation well and rightly aware of the history of the struggle and sacrifice of the people of Bangladesh. The Museum has been creating bridge between generations and making the new generation prepared for building the nation in line the with the dream for which our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives.
Bangladesh has always been active to establish a culture of peace all around the world. In this regard, I would like to quote from the speech of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered at the UN General Assembly in 1974 where he said, “I know that the soul of our martyrs join us in pledging that the Banglaee nation fully commits itself to the building of a world order in which the aspiration of all men and women for peace and justice will be realized.” I believe all violence & wars emanates for a mindset of intolerance, ignorance and disrespect towards others. Therefore, if we can inculcate a mindset of respect and love for others, irrespective of color, ethnicity and religion. We can establish sustainable world of peace. Let us join together to create such mindset of tolerance & respect for others.
Before conclusion, may I request you to visit the displaced people of Myanmar persecuted Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and listen to their stories, persecution, sufferings, tantamount to genocide & ethnic cleansing.
I wish the Conference success.
Thank you all.
Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.