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Session Overview
Session D3 3: Fifty Years of Bangladesh Genocide and Aftermaths
Wednesday, 21/July/2021:
7:30pm - 9:00pm

Session Chair: Adam Jason Jones, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Canada
Location: Room 3


Fifty years of Bangladesh genocide and aftermaths

Chair(s): Adam Jones (University of British Columbia)

This year Bangladesh observes its 50th birth anniversary. The country came into being through a barbaric genocide in 1971 that causes lives of certainly well into seven figures. This is a thematic panel discussion dedicated to the Bangladesh case entitled Fifty years of Bangladesh genocide and aftermaths. With Professor Adam Jones, a renowned genocide expert, in the chair – the panel consists of four scholars from Bangladesh, affiliated with reputed international universities, as presenters. The titles of the papers include: i) Intergenerational memory of genocide in digital age: The case of Bangladesh; ii) Factors and perceptions of 1971 genocide among Bengali young people: an ethnographic study; iii) Justice for the victims of 1971genocide: Achievements, challenges and the future; and iv) Bangladesh genocide: Recognition at home and abroad.


Presentations of the Symposium


Intergenerational Memory of Genocide in Digital Age: The Case of Bangladesh

Shahriar Islam
Binghamton University

Even after 50 years of experiencing genocide, Bangladesh still looks to answer some pertinent questions regarding the memory of that horrific violence across generations. In this research, I focus on the intergenerational memory of genocide in Bangladesh to understand digital media's role where different generations have exposure to the growing digital platforms in the 21st century. My presentation will portray a part of my field research in Bangladesh that I conducted to collect data on intergenerational memory and its impact on trust in governance for my doctoral thesis. In the data analysis, I found that different generations perceived the high school textbooks as a lesser credible source of memory of genocide that transmits across generations. However, as different generations perceived that their genocide memory heavily relies on movies, novels, and familial interaction, we need to understand how digital media affects such perceptions. In my presentation, I depict how digital growth affects intergenerational memory, which is critically informed by movies, novels, and familial interaction and, to some extent, the high school textbooks to contribute to the 1971 genocide's socio-political recognition within the country, which would prevent intractable conflicts.


Factors and perceptions of 1971 genocide among Bengali young people: An ethnographic study

Md Asaduzzaman
Arizona State University

Bangladesh is going to celebrate its fifty years of independence. Behind this, history was shaded by 3 million deaths and brutal genocide by the Pakistani Army in 1971. This study explores how young Bengali people perceived that history and genocide after 50 years. This study examines what factors and perceptions are significant to perceived genocide history and how this history is roaming on Bengali young's social and cultural domain through the anthropological theoretical lens of historical particularism. In this study, data gained by interviews, observation, autoethnography methods and analyzed relevant secondary sources.


Justice for the Victims of 1971Genocide: Achievements, Challenges and the Future

Emraan Azad
University of Cambridge

Throughout the history of independent Bangladesh, different political factors have impeded and delayed international justice process for the victims of 1971 genocide committed against the Bengali population by the Pakistani military forces in association with the local collaborators. One early legislation known as the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order 1972 and the tribunals established under this law were abrogated by the military-backed government of 1975 immediately after the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Even the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 which was made to prosecute international crimes of 1971, was kept non-functional until 2010 only when the first ever international criminal tribunal was established to try accused individuals responsible for committing genocide. Even many of the anti-liberation forces who once opposed the independence of Bangladesh and assisted the Pakistani perpetrators to commit international crimes, were officially forgiven, received with state honour and gradually rehabilitated in national politics by almost all the post-1975 governments – both military and civil ones. This array of political favouritism then actually provided a stamp of legitimacy to the culture of impunity in the socio-political history of Bangladesh. In this backdrop, the present paper intends to analyse the historical evolution of international justice process in Bangladesh, specifically outlining its core achievements, challenges and the future. In doing so, the paper also discusses notable political impediments that were state-sponsored to slow down the whole justice process since the time of independence.


Bangladesh genocide: Recognition at home and abroad

Tawheed Reza Noor
Binghamton University

Bangladesh emerged in 1971 experiencing horrific genocide perpetrated by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators. Although during its emergence, this case received intense media coverage, and got recognized as one of the most concentrated act of genocide in the twentieth century but over time many factors (including deadly denial) played roles due to which the Bangladesh case lost its importance at home and abroad. Bangladesh’s birth was a unique phenomenon as it was the first nation-state that emerged through a successful liberation war against a neo-colonial state. In 2021, Bangladesh fulfils its 50th year but unfortunately despite a body of good literature that endorse Bangladesh case, hardly it is considered as ‘genocide’ in the global forum/arena/listing. While genocide has become a much-studied topic in the academia, very little attention is paid to Bangladesh case – one of the most horrific episodes in twentieth century. At this outset, the present paper explores and analyzes the recognition aspects of Bangladesh genocide, particularly pinpointing the key issues, and challenges for achieving due recognition of this very case. The paper concludes with the expected strategies that may help achieving the long awaited recognition of Bangladesh genocide.