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The Politics of Genocide Scholarship

The politics of genocide scholarship: the case of Bangladesh

Donald Beachler

Abstract

The massive communal violence that occurred in East Pakistan in 1971 received worldwide attention at the time, but has been largely ignored since. Some scholars and other writers have denied that what took place in Bangladesh was a genocide. Journalists’ reports, expatriate testimony, refugee reports and an investi- gation by the International Commission of Jurists in 1972 all indicate, however, that the Pakistani army did commit genocide in Bangladesh in 1971. The political and ideological circumstances that led to the secession of East Pakistan were conducive to religious and ethnic genocide. Beachler examines the treatment by memoirists and scholars of the 1971 crisis in East Pakistan and seeks to explain the reasons why the genocide in Bangladesh has been largely ignored since the early 1970s. No ideological or partisan faction in the United States has stood to gain much from the study of the Bangladesh genocide. And the governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan have not been interested in promoting study of the mass murder and rapes that took place in 1971.

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