Over 90 religious freedom and human rights groups call on President Biden to recognize 1971 Bengali Hindu genocide

In a letter dated March 25, 2021, a diverse coalition of over 90 religious freedom, human rights, and civil liberty organizations signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to recognize the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army in Bangladesh in 1971 as genocide.

The letter to President Biden refers to “one of the greatest humanitarian disasters and crimes against humanity of the 20th century: the Bengali Hindu Genocide.” “This year, on March 25, 2021, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide. On that night, the West Pakistan military launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ in the capital city Dhaka, unleashing a campaign of targeted killings and massacres against the Bengali Hindu population, leaving thousands dead overnight,” the letter states.

The coalition letter led by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is signed by over 90 US and international non-governmental organizations representing multiple faiths and communities, as well as over 625 religious freedom advocates from over a dozen countries around the world.

“After fifty years, the time has come to affirm this horrific event which remains one of the greatest unrecognized crimes against humanity of the 20th century. Therefore, we urge you to issue a public statement commemorating March 25th as Bengali Hindu Genocide Remembrance Day,” the letter states.

HAF held a virtual commemoration on March 23, 2021, where statements from Members of Congress were delivered urging US recognition.

“We are grateful to all of our coalition partners who have come together for the greater purpose of upholding human rights and demanding justice for the unspeakable crimes that befell the Bengali people, particularly Hindus, in 1971,” stated HAF Managing Director Samir Kalra, Esq.

A copy of the letter is here. Full text of the letter is below:

March 25, 2021

President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to you today to draw your attention to one of the greatest humanitarian disasters and crimes against humanity of the 20th century: the Bengali Hindu Genocide. This year, on March 25, 2021, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide. On that night, the West Pakistan military launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ in the capital city Dhaka, unleashing a campaign of targeted killings and massacres against the Bengali Hindu population, leaving thousands dead overnight.

In the ensuing months, historians estimate that 2-3 million people, primarily Bengali Hindus but also Bengali Muslim intellectuals and secular nationalists, were killed. About 200,000-400,000 women were raped and over 10 million people were displaced throughout the region, mostly in neighboring India. At the time, the U.S. and the world were aware of the atrocities being carried out. In a telegram titled “Selective Genocide” to the U.S. State Department, American Consul General Archer K. Blood wrote “Here in Dacca we are mute and horrified witnesses to a reign of terror by the Pak military. Moreover, with support of Pak military, non-Bengali Muslims are systematically attacking poor people’s quarters and murdering Bengalis and Hindus. Full horror of Pak military atrocities will come to light sooner or later.”

After fifty years, the time has come to affirm this horrific event which remains one of the greatest unrecognized crimes against humanity of the 20th century. Therefore, we urge you to issue a public statement commemorating March 25th as Bengali Hindu Genocide Remembrance Day.

In so doing, your words will help bring a semblance of justice to millions of victims and their survivors around the world, including tens of thousands residing in the U.S.