Report By Humayun Kabir from Lisbon, Portugal. Bangladesh Embassy in Lisbon observed the genocide Day with due honour and solemnity on 25 March 2023 reminiscing the brutal and cowardly attacks by the Pakistani occupation forces on the unarmed Bangalees. In profound remembrance of the victims of the Bangladesh genocide, a seminar, a photo exhibition and a candlelight vigil were organised at the Embassy premises.
The seminar titled “Bangladesh at 52: Looking back on the Freedom Struggle and Genocide“was held at the Embassy in the evening. University teachers, students from different Portuguese University, scholars, academics, members of expatiate Bangladeshi community and officials of Embassy attended the seminar. The seminar began with observance of one-minute silence in honour of martyrs of Bangladesh Liberation War.
In his opening remarks, the Ambassador of Bangladesh Tarik Ahsan paid rich tribute to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and all the martyrs and Biranganas of the liberation war. He said that just because Bangalees asserted their democratic right to form the government after election victory, Pakistan military started genocide in the name of infamous “Operation Searchlight” in the black night of 25th March 1971. He added that killing, rape, arson and plunder continued throughout 9 months of War of Liberation till surrender of Pak military on 16 December 1971. Mass graves and killing fields are spread all over Bangladesh and new ones are still being discovered. He regretted that although the Bangladesh genocide had been the worst since World War II, it has not been properly recognised by international community. He viewed that insufficient recognition of Bangladesh genocide is thought to be the cause of many succeeding occurrences of genocide around the world. He called for recognition of Bangladesh genocide to let souls of victims rest in peace.
In the panel discussion, Director of Lisbon University Mr. Shiv Kumar Singh presented the keynote speech. Mr. Singh elaborated the aspects of dehumanization, extermination and denial of Bangladesh genocide and remarked that Pakistan should formally apologize to Bangladesh for what they did in 1971. He urged the international community, particularly United Nation to recognize Bangladesh genocide immediately.A student activist from the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Politicas da Universidade de Lisboa Mr. Sergiu Senciuc also spoke on this occasion. In his remarks, Mr. Sergiu Senciuc paid homage to the victims of the black night and martyrs of the liberation war. He remarked that the international community should recognize immediately the genocide committed by the Pakistani military on the people of Bangladesh. He lauded Bangladesh highly for the outstanding achievements of Bangladesh in recent years and viewed that Bangladesh has created a position in the global stage. He also expressed solidarity with Bangladesh and other countries that had to face the international crime of genocide.
A video documentary containing genocidal incidents of 25th March of 1971, war-time footage of genocide captured byinternational media and case for recognition of Bangladesh genocide were screened during the seminar. Booklets titled “Bangladesh Genocide Revisited” and “Recognizing the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide” and the resolution tabledat the US congress recognizing the genocide of Bangladesh were also distributed among the guests.
After the discussion session, the attractive part of the programme “question and answer session” took place where the participant students asked the panellists different question on the genocide of Bangladesh and regarding recognition of the genocide by the international community.
After the discussion session, all guests walked in a procession of a candlelight vigil in the premises of the Chancery and placed candles before the portraits of victims of Bangladesh genocide that were displayed as part of the photographic exhibition titled “1971 Genocide”. The visitors were appalled to witness the horrors of the atrocities perpetrated by Pakistani military and local collaborators.