Key facts of Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence

Updated 15 July 2013
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Key facts of Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence

DHAKA: Here are some key points about Bangladesh's 1971 independence war:
• In 1947, when colonial power Britain withdrew from the subcontinent, modern-day Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan, geographically separated from West Pakistan but governed from Islamabad.
• The 1971 war began after thousands of people were killed on the night of March 25 when Pakistani troops launched Operation Searchlight, a campaign intended to deter Bangladeshis from seeking independence.
• The war ended on December 16 after India invaded the country and helped vanquish Pakistani forces.
• The Dhaka government says three million people were killed and more than 200,000 women were raped during the conflict. Independent researchers put the death toll between 300,000 and 500,000.
• More than 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered at the end of the war. They included 195 officers accused of most of the war atrocities. They were sent back home by 1974 following an Indo-Pakistani agreement and were never prosecuted.
• Bangladeshi Islamic parties including Jamaat opposed secession from Pakistan. Its activists formed the core of the pro-Pakistani militias that took part in mass killings, rapes, arson and religious persecution during the war.
• Independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current premier Sheikh Hasina, ordered the arrest of thousands of collaborators and canceled Azam’s citizenship for siding with Pakistan and committing atrocities. Rahman was assassinated in August 1975 in a military coup before his government could hold war crime trials. A pro-Islamist military junta took over and freed around 11,000 collaborators.
• In 2010 Hasina set up the International Crimes Tribunal, which is a domestic court with no international oversight, to try suspected war criminals to fulfill a key election pledge.


Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

Updated 59 sec ago
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Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

  • Rakhine has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and security forces
  • ‘We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons’

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Myanmar’s army said Friday it killed 13 ethnic Rakhine fighters in counterstrikes after the well-armed group carried out deadly attacks on police posts earlier this month.
Rakhine state has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan Army (AA) — insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists — and security forces.
Many of the battles are taking place in the same region from which more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after August 2017 when the army launched a crackdown the UN deemed ethnic cleansing.
The AA are a more formidable force than the fighters claiming to represent the Rohingya and have inflicted historically higher death tolls on the military.
On January 4, also Myanmar’s independence day, the AA launched pre-dawn raids that killed 13 police officers and wounded nine before the army stepped in, setting off violence that has displaced thousands.
But the army hit back, killing the same number of AA rebels in total in operations from January 5-16.
“We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons,” Major General Tun Tun Nyi said in a rare press conference in the capital Naypyidaw.
“Some officers and soldiers from our side were killed,” he added, without releasing the figures.
Myanmar’s military almost never provides statistics on casualties suffered in fighting against the country’s myriad ethnic armed groups.
The army called a temporary cease-fire against different insurgents in northern Myanmar last month but Rakhine state was excluded from the move because of the AA and the Rohingya militant group, which is called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The troubled state is a complex patchwork of Rakhine, Rohingya, and other ethnic minorities that intercommunal violence has largely driven apart.
Most of the Rohingya in the northern part of the state have been pushed into Bangladesh, where they refuse to return to Myanmar without guarantees of safety and citizenship.
The United Nations has called for Myanmar’s top generals to be investigated for genocide as a result of the operations but they reject the accusation.
The fighting with AA rebels complicates an already fraught repatriation process for the Rohingya.
Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun blamed the AA insurgents for the police post attacks earlier this month and accused them of “stabbing from the back.”