The birth of Bangladesh in 1971 was a unique phenomenon in that it was the first nation-state to emerge after waging a successful liberation war against a postcolonial state. The nine-month-long liberation war in Bangladesh drew world attention because of the genocide committed by Pakistan, which resulted in the murder of approximately 3 million people and the rape of nearly a quarter-million girls and women. Ten million Bengalis reportedly took refuge in India to avoid the massacre of the Pakistan army, and thirty million people were displaced within the country (Loshak, 1971; Mascarenhas, 1971; Payne, 1973; Ayoob and Subrahmanyan, 1972; O'Donnell, 1984).
Written three decades after the genocide, this chapter addresses the following: the historical forces that led to the genocide; the nature of the genocide (why, how, and who committed the genocide); the world response; the long-range impact of the genocide on the victims; the way the genocide is remembered today; and some lessons that can be drawn from the 1971 Bangladesh genocide.
Though the liberation war in Bangladesh lasted only nine months, the nationalist movement that preceded the war spanned the previous two