Genocide Watch has recognized the crimes committed by the Pakistani forces during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971 as genocide.
Source: Genocide Watch
Download full report at Genocide Watch Declaration on 50th Anniversary of the Bangladesh Genocide 2021
Declaration in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Bangladesh Genocide
Pakistan’s crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War
included Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes
- Prior to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, East Pakistan, today’s Bangladesh, was dominated by West
Pakistan, following the British colonial partition of 1947.
- During this second neo-colonial rule, discriminatory policies against the people of East Pakistan, both Hindus
and Muslims, were established by the West Pakistan military junta. They included imposition of Urdu as the
only official language of Pakistan from 1948 – 1956, violent persecution of the civilian Bengali population, and
repression of dissidents and social movements that defended Bengali identity and culture.
- Testimonies by the survivors of Pakistani military rule provide thousands of accounts of widespread
persecution from 1947 through 1971 committed by Pakistan against the Bengali people as an ethnic, national,
and religious group.
- These crimes were planned and led by Pakistani General Yahya Khan. He imposed martial law in 1969,
dissolved Pakistan’s parliament, and abrogated Pakistan’s constitution.
- Following the East Pakistan Awami League’s victory in the 1970 all Pakistan parliamentary elections, the
West Pakistani military junta under General Yahya Khan organized to prevent the Awami League from
forming a Pakistani government.
- Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made an historic speech on 7 March 1971 declaring
Bangladesh Independence at midnight on 26 March 1971.
- Instead of handing over power to the elected civilian political leaders of Bangladesh, the Pakistani Military
Forces and local collaborators launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ against the Bengali population on the night of
25 March 1971 and pursued a brutal annihilation campaign throughout Bangladesh until 16 December 1971.
- The United States supported Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War. President Nixon and Secretary of
State Kissinger directed the United States to secretly encourage shipment of arms from Iran, Turkey, and
Jordan to Pakistan, reimbursing those countries despite US diplomatic and Congressional objections.
- Throughout the nine months of their anti-independence occupation of East Pakistan, the Pakistani Military
Forces persecuted, tortured, and murdered representatives of Bengali culture and identity, including poets,
musicians, professors, journalists, physicians, scientists, writers, and film makers.
- During their occupation of East Pakistan from 25 March 1971 to 16 December 1971, attacks by Pakistani
Military Forces and their allies forced approximately ten million Bengalis to flee to neighboring India. This
forced exodus constituted the crime against humanity of deportation and forcible transfer of a substantial part
of East Pakistan’s population.
- Pakistani policies were intentionally planned and organized in “clearance operations” to change the
demographic composition of East Pakistan, through the brutal forced displacement and mass murder of a
substantial part of East Pakistan’s Bengali national and ethnic population.
- The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) held in its 1972 Report that attacks by Pakistani Military Forces
included “indiscriminate killing of civilians, including women and children; the attempt to exterminate or drive
out of the country a large part of the Hindu population of approximately 10 million people; the arrest, torture
and killing without trial of suspects; the raping of women; the destruction of villages and towns; and the looting
of property. The scale of these crimes was massive….”
- The International Commission of Jurists report concluded “[i]n addition to criminal offences under domestic
law, there is a strong prima facie case that criminal offences were committed in international law, namely war
crimes and crimes against humanity under the law relating to armed conflict, breaches of Article 3 of the
Geneva Conventions of 1949, and acts of genocide under the Genocide Convention.”
- These crimes by the Pakistani Military Forces constituted the crimes against humanity of murder,
extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of
physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance of persons, and other
- Strong evidence supports the conclusion that the crimes committed against the Bengalis of East Pakistan
during 1971 were widespread and systematic and carried out by the Pakistani Army, other militia forces
(Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams etc.), and pan-Islamic political forces (including Jamat e Islam, Nezam e Islam
and the Muslim League).
- The crimes of the Pakistani Military Forces in Bangladesh in 1971 constituted war crimes under the laws of
war, including: wilful killing; torture; inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering; destruction and
appropriation of property; compelling service in hostile forces; denying a fair trial; unlawful deportation and
transfer; attacking civilians; attacking civilian objects; attacking personnel or objects in humanitarian
assistance; excessive incidental death, injury, or damage; killing or wounding a person hors de combat;
attacking protected objects; mutilation; treacherously killing or wounding; destroying or seizing property;
depriving nationals of the hostile power of rights; compelling participation in military operations; pillaging;
outrages upon personal dignity; rape; sexual violence; starvation as a method of warfare; murder; cruel
treatment; and sentencing or execution without due process.
- Conclusive research by internationally recognized genocide experts indicates that the nature, scale and
organization of the Pakistani Military operations demonstrates planning and intentional design by the
Pakistani junta leadership and military command to destroy a substantial part of the Bengali ethnic and
national group and a substantial part of the Bengali Hindu religious group.
- These crimes included all the processes of genocide: Classification into West Pakistanis vs. East Pakistanis
(Bengalis); Symbolization on ID cards and in government records, existing different dress, language, and
culture; Discrimination against Bengalis in Pakistan government and military leadership; Dehumanization in
ethnic slurs against Bengalis, disparagement of Bengali Islam as “false Islam corrupted by Hinduism” and
racism due to skin color; Organization in the West Pakistani dominated military; Polarization by language
(Urdu vs. Bengali) and geography; Preparation in planning by Yahya Khan and the Pakistani Military Forces
of “Operation Searchlight”; Persecution by murders, rapes, torture, destruction of property, and deportation;
Extermination by mass murder of from 300,000 to 3 million Bengalis; and Denial by Pakistan, the US, the UK,
and the UN during the genocide and to the present.
- This intentional Pakistani state planning of systematic, coordinated, simultaneous massacres by Pakistani
Military Forces indicates the level of state intent required to prove the crime of Genocide.
Therefore, Genocide Watch:
- Recognizes the crimes committed by the Military Forces of Pakistan against the Bengali population in
Bangladesh in 1971 as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
- Calls upon the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a resolution recognising the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh.
- Urges the member states of the United Nations, especially the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan, to recognize the crimes committed by Pakistani Military Forces in Bangladesh in 1971 as
genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
- Urges member states of the United Nations to take necessary measures to recognize these crimes in appropriate
fora, and to charge surviving leaders of this genocide in national courts with universal jurisdiction.
- Requests proper reparations for these crimes from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of
Adopted as an official declaration of Genocide Watch in this 50th anniversary commemoration year of the
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton