Washington DC: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents the 18th Congressional district of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday 23 March remembered the 50th Anniversary of the “selective genocide” of Bengali Hindus by the Pakistani Army in what was then East Pakistan in 1971.
Addressing the House, Ms Lee recalled the brutality that was “unleashed by the Pakistani army and the targeting of Bengali Hindus simply because of their religion” and said it must be strongly condemned as religious freedom is one of the most sacred of human rights.
Speaking about the genocide, Ms Lee said more than two million Bengali Hindu persons were systematically killed by the Pakistani Army when it launched a 10-month offensive and a reign of terror known as “Operation Searchlight”.
March 25th officially marks the beginning of the genocide in East Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh.
In a soul stirring address in the House of Representatives, Ms Sheila Jackson Lee said:
“Over that time, approximately 2 to 3 million people were killed, over 200,000 women were raped in organized rape camps, and over 10 million people were displaced, most finding refuge in India. I offer my prayers and condolences to the victims and their families who still feel the very real effects of this heinous crime against humanity.
It has been 50 years since the genocide in Bangladesh, and the survivors and their descendants are still fighting for recognition; they are still fighting for an apology from Pakistan, as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh formerly asked her Pakistani counterpart as recently as January of 2021; and they are still fighting for justice and for closure.
On March 28, 1971, Archer K. Blood, U.S. Consul General stationed in Dhaka, East Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh, during the genocide, sent a cable back to Foggy Bottom with the subject reading “Selective Genocide.”
In his cable, the Consul General informed his superiors at the State Department that “Here in Dacca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak military,” and that the full horror of its atrocities “will come to light sooner or later.”
That is why I rise; to remember and acknowledge that history so that victims and survivors of the Bengali Hindu Genocide know that the people of the United States stand in solidarity with them.”