40 Years After Horror, Bangladesh Is Free

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I get very squeamish over military intervention. Often it results in more human rights violations that it was intended to stop. But the case of Bangladesh makes me less cynical about military-led humanitarian interventions than I would otherwise be. Bangladesh is better off than it could possibly have been under the brutal military rule of Pakistan.

On December 16, 1971, a dramatic ceremony took place at the Rama Race Course in what was then East Pakistan. The picture was beamed across the world showing Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi signing an “instrument of surrender” with Indian General J.S. Aurora watching. Forever more, Bangladeshis know this day Bijoy Dibosh or Liberation Day.

As George Harrison put it succinctly in his song during the now iconic Concert for Bangladesh in the summer of 1971, something needed to be done:

In Solidarity with Garment Workers in Bangladesh

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UPDATE: For more stuff about human rights in South Asia (Bangladesh and India, in particular), follow acharya_dude on Twitter!

In the days around Bangladesh’s Liberation Day (Bijoy Dibosh) celebrations, the country has been convulsed by a number of protests and human rights violations that will have grave implications for the future direction of the country if the government does not immediately take steps change course.

The government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has taken a number of important steps in ensuring the protection of human rights.  But, the recent crackdown against opposition protests and the pettiness of a squabble over housing for politicians threaten to derail gains made.  Worst of all, is the deaths arising from both recent fires in garment factories and from violent street clashes between police and garment workers in Dhaka.