The first International Seminar of Genocide Museum was held on 25 and 26 November, 1971 at Bangla Academy Auditorium in Dhaka. The title of the two-day international seminar was '1971: Genocide-Torture and Liberation War'. Delegates from India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Cambodia participated in the event.
Professionals from the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Bangladesh who are connected and contributed to the Liberation War, discussed in the day of the inauguration of the seminar, 25 November 2017. National and international experts have called for highlight the horrors of brutal genocide and torture of the Pakistani army and their collaborators worldwide. They also said that even after 46 years of independence, the Pakistani forces are denying the brutal genocide and torture they had pepetrated in Bangladesh in 1971. For this purpose, they had engaged themselves in deception immediately after announcing the verdict of the war criminals. Global public opinion has to be created in this regard. The speakers recalled that unlike the Pakistani forces, inhumane genocide-torture is still going on in many countries of the world. Recent Rohingya genocide in Myanmar is the evidence of it. For this reason, the government of Bangladesh has to focus the horrors of genocide and torture in the international arena. Otherwise, it would be far-reaching to establish peace in the South Asian countries. The speakers also said that Pakistan is being nosy about the trials of their collaborators war criminals in Bangladesh as Pakistani Army had not been punished.
At the seminar, Indian journalist Manash Ghosh presented a piece of new information that the then US President Richard Nixon and Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger tried to kidnap Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed, the then provisional government of Bangladesh.
Lt. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Prime Minister's Advisor on International Relations, Gauhar Rizvi respectively, spoke as the honored guests in 3 separate sessions on the seminar. The seminar was hosted by Lt. Colonel (Retd) Qazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Bir Protik). The 3 sessions were presided over by the Bangabandhu Chair Professor Dr. Muntassir Mamoon, President, 1971: Genocide-Torture Archives and museum trust, renonwed intellectual Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir and Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan respectively.
Shahriar Kabir, the president of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee presented the keynote paper at the seminar. In a separate session, National Research Professor of the Government of India, Jayanta Kumar Roy, Thomas A. Dine, a US politician and Liberation War friend honorees, Hiranmay Karlekar, journalist of India's Liberation War Friend honorees, journalist Manas Ghosh, the UK social worker and Liberation War friend Honorees Julian Francis, a retired Army officer from India, RP Singh, Professor Kaushik Bandyopadhyay of West Bengal State University of India and Professor Mesbah Kamal of Dhaka University presented their papers.
At the seminar, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said that soon after the birth of Pakistan, Bangabandhu realized that there would be no fortune for the Bangali nation in the structure of Pakistan-state. Minister Tofail Ahmed highlighted the struggle of Bangali nation under the leadership of Bangabandhu and the speech given by Bangabandhu on 7th March, which has been recognized by UNESCO recently.
Advisor to the Prime Minister, Gowhar Rizvi said that the genocide and torture of Pakistani army were suppressed after the country became independent. Further investigation and research needs to be done on this subject. The true history will be unraveled from generation to generation only through the research.
He added that, huge propaganda was carried out to suppress the true history of the War of Liberation in the past and it still continues. We have to raise our voice against propaganda. He urged everyone to spread the spirit of the War of Liberation in a louder voice.
Referring to the fact that America help Pakistan to suppress the people of Bangladesh in 1971 brutally, Prof. Jayanta Kumar Roy said that collecting money and weapons for a nine-month armed struggle against a part of their own country would not have been possible without the assistance of the United States. The United States provided $ 1.5 billion worth of weapons in Pakistan for free during the period of 1954-1965.
Tomas A. Dine said that because of US support, Pakistan was able to commit genocide and torture in 1971; but with the friendly support of the Indian government, Pakistan has to back off. Otherwise the liberation war would have been longer.
Indian journalist Hiranmay Karlekar said that there was a lot of work on different sectors of the Liberation War. But researches on refugee life and genocide-torture are not much. Such work has started after a long time, which is certainly a good initiative.
Indian journalist Manas Ghosh said, many books have been published on the history of the Liberation War after the independence of Bangladesh. There is a huge government publication named “Muktijuddher Dolil Patra” (Documents of the Liberation War) in 15 volumes on the Liberation War.
Manash Ghosh said that now he wants to tell about an incident that may have never been published in any book. He said, during the War of Liberation, Nixon and Kissinger tried to kidnap Tajuddin Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the Mujibnagar government of Bangladesh. Some members of the US intelligence agency kept a close eye on Tajuddin Ahmed at a hotel opposite of Tajuddin Ahmed's building (Aravinda Bhawan) in Kolkata. The US intelligence agents also set up electronic devices at the hotel. Manash Ghosh also added that the plan was to abduct Tajuddin Ahmed from the building in a helicopter and took him to the seventh fleet in the sea. But before the Indian BSF forces received the news, the agents left their devices and fled. He claimed that he had known the information from a former officer in charge of the Aravinda building in Kolkata.
Emphasizing the importance of preserving the history of the Liberation War, Manash Ghosh added that there are still many people who are witness to many unknown events. If not collected, with the deaths of those people those histories will also be lost forever.
Professor Kaushik Bandyopadhyay from India said that despite of sharing the same emotions, the peaceful bonds of language and culture between the people of Bangladesh and West Bengal, West Bengal is still behindhand about the history of genocide, torture and liberation war of their neighboring country. The history of genocide and torture is closely linked to the question of the trial and punishment of war criminals. It is to be seen, therefore, that this practice should not in any way to be influenced by the Bengali sentiments of the Liberation War or by the pride of the Indian role in the War of Liberation; On the contrary, there should be a prospect to explore this emotional and vainglory psychology.
Shahriar Kabir said that all attempts to eliminate the veracity of the spirit of the war of liberation war, genocide and torture must be resisted. The Pakistani government is still conspiring against Bangladesh. He also emphasized on the trial of Pakistanis for genocide and war crimes.
Professor Muntassir Mamoon said that the Zia-Nizami gang had developed a Pakistani-minded class by being in power for 30 years. It is about 30 percent. For this reason, the spirit of the Liberation War has to be spread more and more, from generation to generation. Otherwise, the country's development and progress will be hindered.
Professor Mesbah Kamal said that all marginal people including farmers, workers are missing in the history of the War of Liberation. The marginalized people have to give importance to spread out the spirit of the War of Liberation.
On the closing day of the seminar (26 November), prominent people from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Cambodia and Bangladesh delivered their speeches on the same stage. Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik presided over the first session of the day. Cambodian human rights activist Mann Sokkieyan, Fauzul Azim from Bangladesh and Barrister Turin Afroz presented their essays. The closing session was presided over by Shahriar Kabir, the president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (Committee for Resisting Killers and Collaborators of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971) where Thomas A. Dine from the United States, Prof. Jayanta Kumar Roy from India, Mann Sokkiyan from Cambodia, Julian Francis from the United Kingdom and Professor Muntassir Mamoon presented their speeches.
Dr. Muntassir Mamoon said that the BNP-Jamaat is in favor of genocide. But it is the right of the valiant martyrs to have justice. Therefore, there should be a trial of the BNP-Jamaat. Even those who support genocide have to be judged too. The genocide of 1971 is still relevant. Because Pakistan is still making statements against genocide happened in Bangladesh.
Shahriar Kabir said the Pakistani Razakars and their collaborators should be brought to justice. This requires international cooperation. The genocide of Armenia, Rwanda have been recognized, why the case of Bangladesh will not be recognized?
Tomas A Dine said that, there were genocide happened in Bangladesh. At that time India gave shelter to the people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has also contributed to the human rights by providing shelter and protection to the Rohingya.
Jayanta Kumar Roy said he has read many books about the liberation war in Bangladesh. He thinks that the book ‘Birangana’ needs to be distributed by the government of Bangladesh. He also added that the power against the liberation war had to be uprooted completely.
British human rights activist Julian Francis has demanded international recognition for the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh on his speech. The genocide has not yet been acknowledged and it must be acknowledged.
Former Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik Congratulated and thanked India for their cooperation in the liberation war on his speech. He also said that India is our best friend.
Barrister Turin Afroz said that the term 'Gonohotta' as a Bengali translation of 'Genocide' is not accurate. Genocide means not only murder, but also torture and rape. And a brutal genocide was carried out on the people of Bangladesh in 1971.
At the seminar, Fauzul Azim, chief research officer of the Law Commission of Bangladesh, said the state had made 20 allegations at the International Criminal Tribunal in Bangladesh. Out of which, one was proved.
This International Seminar, organized by the Centre for Genocide-Torture and Liberation War Studies and ‘1971: Genocide-Torture Archives and Museum Trust’, has repeatedly focosed on the horrific crimes committed by the Pakistani invaders and their collaborators during 1971.