Bangladesh Liberation War
The Bangladesh Liberation War (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ Muktijuddho), also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh, was a revolution and armed conflict sparked by the rise of the Bengali nationalist and self-determination movement in what was then East Pakistan and the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. It resulted in the independence of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The war began after the Pakistani military junta based in West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against the people of East Pakistan on the night of 25 March 1971. It pursued the systematic elimination of nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The junta annulled the results of the 1970 elections and arrested Prime minister-designate Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The war ended on 16 December 1971 after West Pakistan surrendered.
- Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy, (...) But we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely an internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected.
- Archer Blood, "The Blood Telegram" (U.S. Consulate (Dacca) Cable, Dissent from U.S. Policy Toward East Pakistan, April 6, 1971, Confidential, 5 pp. Includes Signatures from the Department of State. Source: RG 59, SN 70-73 Pol and Def. From: Pol Pak-U.S. To: Pol 17-1 Pak-U.S. Box 2535;) DISENT FROM U.S. POLICY TOWARD EAST PAKISTAN (PDF) April 6, 1971
- In East Pakistan, the army began a brutal campaign of repression designed to cow the Bengali dissidents. The Consulate General's reports from Dacca were graphic and disturbing. On March 28 the report from Dacca began: "Here in Dacca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak military." During the following week, the Consulate General reported that the army was setting houses on fire and shooting people as they emerged from the burning buildings and that the army had killed a large number of unarmed students at Dacca University. On March 28, Nixon and Kissinger discussed the reports of atrocities in East Pakistan in a telephone conversation. Nixon said: "I wouldn't put out a statement praising it, but we're not going to condemn it either."
- Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, , and The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J. Bass
- 'Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Where so many people are dying fast
And it sure looks like a mess
I've never seen such distress
- George Harrison, "Bangladesh"
- And the students at the university
Asleep at night quite peacefully
The soldiers came and shot them in their beds
And terror took the dorm awakening shrieks of dread
And silent frozen forms and pillows drenched in red
When the sun sinks in the west
Die a million people of the Bangladesh
- Joan Baez, in the Song for Bangladesh (1971)
- 200,000, 300,000 or possibly 400,000 women (three sets of statistics have been variously quoted) were raped. Eighty percent of the raped women were Moslems, reflecting the population of Bangladesh, but Hindu and Christian women were not exempt. ... Hit-and-run rape of large numbers of Bengali women was brutally simple in terms of logistics as the Pakistani regulars swept through and occupied the tiny, populous land ...Rape in Bangladesh had hardly been restricted to beauty... Girls of eight and grandmothers of seventy-five had been sexually assaulted ... Pakistani soldiers had not only violated Bengali women on the spot; they abducted tens of hundreds and held them by force in their military barracks for nightly use.... Some women may have been raped as many as eighty times in a night
- Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
- The human death toll over only 267 days was incredible. Just to give for five out of the eighteen districts some incomplete statistics published in Bangladesh newspapers or by an Inquiry Committee, the Pakistani army killed 100,000 Bengalis in Dacca, 150,000 in Khulna, 75,000 in Jessore, 95,000 in Comilla, and 100,000 in Chittagong. For eighteen districts the total is 1,247,000 killed. This was an incomplete toll, and to this day no one really knows the final toll.
- R. J. Rummel, Death By Government, p. 331.