Daniel Halliday
Jan 30 · Last update 2 days ago.
What caused the 1971 Bangladesh genocide?
This genocide, perpetrated during the Bangladesh War of Independence, is heavily contested with casualty estimates ranging from the tens of thousands to half a million. But what is clear is that the widespread killing of Bengalis and Biharis during this time amounts to a war crime. How did this genocide and one of the largest systematic rape campaigns in history unfold during the Bangladesh Liberation War? Which parties are to blame for these horrific acts of mass murder?
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Support from the United States
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Pakistani government
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Operation Searchlight
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Support from the United States

The victims of the Bangladesh Genocide are often lost in the murk of the Cold War, and despite the supportive roles played by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissenger in the atrocities, this genocide remains widely overlooked. In the context of the Cold War the Nixon administration sided strongly with the government of Pakistan, and Nixon maintained a personal relationship with President Yahya Khan, in efforts to gain closer ties to China, a key Pakistan ally, as a response to India’s relations with the USSR. United States' compliance with the violence in Bangladesh extended to secret weapons supply to the military of West Pakistan from Iran, Turkey and Jordan, paid for by the US, despite it being illegal to do so. Nixon’s and Kissenger’s knowledge of this atrocity and willingness to overlook and downplay the events in order to forward their own agenda led to one of the first dissent telegrams, “The Blood Telegram”, and this represent one of many overlooked chapters of US support of genocide and human rights abuses.

nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB79 thedailystar.net/news/americas-role-in-mujib-murder

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Pakistani government

Without doubt the government of Pakistan caused this genocide by being unable to deal with the 1969 uprising in the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) region. But it was directly the actions of Pakistan’s subsequent president Yahya Khan who created this tragedy by giving the military more power to violently suppress any “rebellion”, despite the rebellion being continued by his delaying the transition of power. Khan’s guilt is made clearest by his own words, saying at a conference in 1971: “kill three million of them, and the rest will eat out of our hands” [1]. independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-war-bangladesh-can-never-forget-8501636.html

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Operation Searchlight

In March 1971 Major General’s Khadim Hussain Raja and Rao Farman Ali of the West Pakistani Army planned the Bengldesh Genocide under the name Operation Searchlight. Operation Searchlight was a campaign of systematic killings aimed at Bengali intellectuals, academics and the Hindu population of East Pakistan, but descended into indiscriminate violence and rape as the West Pakistani military attempted to stamp out Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh). The Pakistani military are undoubtedly the orchestrators of the Bangladesh genocide; with the authorisation of free and great force to be utilised, many individuals of the military are directly responsible as orders were passed down the chain of command.

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