On Friday, The Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) and HinduPACT held a press conference at the National Press Club which was attended by members of the media, human rights activists, academics, entrepreneurs, members of the Bangladeshi diaspora community and Bangladesh’s consul general to Florida, to discuss the recent introduction of the bipartisan H.Res. 1430 by Congressman Steve Chabot, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and Co-Chair of the Bangladesh Caucus and co-sponsored by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA).
In 1971, the Pakistani army and its allies brutally raped more than 200,000 women and girls and slaughtered approximately 3 million people. Ten million people were displaced and had to seek asylum in neighboring India. The Pakistani military and its allies also carried out the targeted assassination of more than 1,100 Bengali intellectuals and professionals, including journalists, professors, physicians, attorneys, and writers, in order to create an intellectual vacuum in the country. In Bangladesh, 1,942 mass graves were discovered.
The Bangladesh government started to prosecute war criminals who collaborated with the Pakistan army and the Government of Bangladesh formed the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh. Since then, it has tried 49 war criminals. More than 500 instances are currently under investigation, while 36 cases are ongoing in court.
Speakers discussed and answered questions about the impact of this historic resolution on the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific and on radical groups originating from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar, distinguished professor emeritus at SUNY, recalled his family’s personal experience as victims of genocide and destitution.
Dwijen Bhattacharjya, a lecturer at Columbia University and General Secretary of the Bangladeshi Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council in the United States, complimented both Congressmen for presenting this resolution and departing from the 1971 United States policy on the genocide in Bangladesh.
Mr. S.M. Alam, Consul General of Bangladesh at the Miami consulate, thanked Congressman Steve Chabot and Congressman Ro Khanna for introducing this resolution and invited the Bangladeshi community to engage with additional congressmen to pass it. He urged community leaders to unite as Bangladeshis to bring out the best outcome for this historic effort.
Saleem Samad, Gen. Sec. of the Forum for Freedom of Expression and who also serves as the Bangladesh Correspondent for Reporters sans Frontieres, asserted that the Pakistani Army and radical Islamists from Jamaat-e-Islami, Al-Badr, Al-Sams, and Rajaker employed rape as a method of war and ultimately extermination. He decried this horrible crime against humanity and urged everyone to recruit additional co-sponsors for the resolution. He recalled that the Pakistani military and their Bangladeshi collaborators did not target Christians and Buddhists in the same manner as they did Hindus.
President of ISPAD and community leader Dilip Debnath expressed appreciation to the two lawmakers for proposing this resolution in the United States Congress. He urged community members to take action to adopt this Resolution.
Razzak Baloch, organizer, Baloch Human Rights, condemned the Pakistani Army for its genocide in Bangladesh in 1971. He said that the failure of the global community to hold the Pakistan Army accountable after 1971, led to violence against Baloch communities that continues even today.
Munawar “Sufi” Laghari, the Executive Director of Sindhi Foundation, echoed Razzak’s views and promised to work with the Bangladeshi community to get the resolution passed.
The press conference was moderated by Adelle Nazarian, Media Fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategy (GIIS) and Communication and Legislative Director at HinduPACT. She expressed appreciation for the participants’ insightful comments and urged all humanitarians, and the Bangladeshi diaspora in the United States in particular, to work with their local representatives and requested that they support the resolution. Additionally, she requested all journalists to cover this resolution as she understands the importance of the media following her own successful career in broadcast and online journalism.
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