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Killing Grounds of 1971

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                  • Stories on Bangladesh Liberation war

                    The Bangladesh freedom fighters. Photo: Magnum Photos
                    The Bangladesh freedom fighters. Photo: Magnum Photos

                    What the Pakistani troops carried out in the then East Pakistan was the worst genocide in modern times, causing the greatest human displacement. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from systemic slaughter streamed over the border into India. The occupation army tried its best to cover up their massacre, but journalists of different international news organisations risked their lives and sent out their dispatches to let the world know the brutality with what the Pakistani government and its military tried to snuff out the Bangalees’ uprising.

                    Hours after the Pakistani occupation forces swooped on the innocent Bangladeshis in the night of March 25, Deseret News, a US news organisation based in Utah, published a report. “Civil war broke out today in East Pakistan and the East Pakistani leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared his province’s independence from West Pakistan,” reads the first line. The event grabbed headlines of the world’s top newspapers the next day. As the people put up resistance responding to the call of Sheikh Mujib, the international media came up with hundreds of reports portraying the atrocities carried out by the occupation Pakistani forces and their local collaborators.

                    Journalist Anthony Mascarenhas wrote a report in the UK's Sunday Times on June 13, 1971 exposing for the first time the scale of the Pakistan army's brutal campaign to suppress its breakaway eastern province in 1971. There is little doubt the report played its part in ending the war by helping turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraging India to play a decisive role. Publication of the report forced the family of the reporter, who was a Pakistani, into hiding and changed the history.

                    Then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi played a key role in drumming up world support for Bangladesh’s cause, told Harold Evans, the then editor of the Sunday Times, that the article had shocked her so deeply it had set her "on a campaign of personal diplomacy in the European capitals and Moscow to prepare the ground for India's armed intervention."

                    Skeletons of atrocity victims found after the liberation, in a field near Dhaka. There were pits full and scattered bodies all over Shialbari area in Mirpur, around the ruins of burned out villages. Photo: Magnum Photos
                    Skeletons of atrocity victims found after the liberation, in a field near Dhaka. There were pits full and scattered bodies all over Shialbari area in Mirpur, around the ruins of burned out villages. Photo: Magnum Photos

                    Besides campaigns by sympathisers, the media reports played a very crucial role in bringing world attention to the Pakistan occupation force’s massacre as the valiant freedom fighters fought a brave fight to free their homeland from their clutches.

                    Days after the Pakistani commander AAK Niazi surrendered with his troops on December 16, the international media continued to report from amongst the rubble the atrocities and destruction carried out by them as the new nation started to rebuild.

                    We have collected the foreign newspaper reports from different sources and categorised them under five groups – 1971 in International Media Reports, Articles, Interviews, Autobiographies and Book Reviews. If you have any such reports which you think will enrich our collection, please email those to reliving1971@gmail.com and be part of our initiative.

                    Curation: Zaid Kalam, Shamim Ashraf, Imrul Kayes Chowdhury

Chronological list of the archives:


1971 in International Media Reports

March, 1971

April, 1971

May, 1971

June, 1971

July, 1971

August, 1971

September, 1971

October, 1971

November, 1971

December, 1971

Articles

Interviews

Autobiographies

Book Reviews

ABOUT FREEDOM IN THE AIR

Freedom in the air is a non-profit project aimed at building a rich repository for all sorts of contents on Bangladesh's Liberation War of 1971. Besides producing exclusive video interviews of war heroes and experts and a turn-by-turn daily interactive calendar of 1971, The Daily Star Online gathered very rare declassified diplomatic cables, the sensational Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report that proved genocide by Pakistan army, significant collection of rarely seen photographs and international newspaper reports. There is an exceptional collection of TV reports, video footages and documentaries which The Daily Star does not own but using with courtesy of the original owners and those who uploaded.