The Politics of Bangladesh’s Genocide Debate

What does this article tell us about the role of history in creating a national identify? What does this tell us about how current circumstances shape our perceptions of the past?

Is it ever ethical to censor scholarship or the media? What if the three million figure was accurate? Inaccurate?

Is it ethical to make illegal debates and scholarship questioning the death toll of the Holocaust (it is illegal in much of Europe but not in the United States)?

“Where does the truth about the numbers lie? The three million figure was popularized by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League in 1971, the country’s first president and the father of the current prime minister. Mujib, as he is popularly known, is a revered figure, particularly within the Awami League. But his biographer, Sayyid A. Karim, who was also Sheikh Rahman’s first foreign secretary, viewed the number as ‘a gross exaggeration.'”

“For others, however, questions are necessary on this and other aspects of the 1971 war, including the widespread killings of members of the Bihari ethnic group, who supported the Pakistanis during the conflict, by Bengali nationalists. We should question this because nationalist narratives about the past often serve contemporary political interests, and we should beware of an orthodoxy being used to silence dissent.”

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