Anthony Mascarenhas, a Pakistani journalist from West Pakistan was sent to East Pakistan to highlight what a good job was being done by the West Pakistanis. But what he saw however shocked him. He wrote an article GENOCIDE that he knew will not be published in Pakistan. Anthony is forced to flee to Britain and his article is printed in London in the Sunday Times. It was an expose that shook the entire world. The BBC reported “There is little doubt that Mascarenhas‘ reportage played its part in ending the war. It helped turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraged India to play a decisive role.”
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told the then editor of the Sunday Times, Harold Evans, that the article had shocked her so deeply it had set her “on a campaign of personal diplomacy in the European capitals and Moscow to prepare the ground for India’s armed intervention,” he recalled.Not that this was ever Mascarenhas’ intention. He was, Evans wrote in his memoirs, “just a very good reporter doing an honest job“.Mascarenhas’ reportage played its part in ending the war. It helped turn world opinion against Pakistan and encouraged India to play a decisive role.
Meanwhile in the US, there was a sharp criticism of President Nixon’s position on the Pakistani situation. The American people held demonstrations in solidarity with the Bengalis and raised aids for the refugees. The US Congress pushes a bill to ban arm sales to Pakistan. India invites also invited delegates and political leaders from around the world to refugee camps to draw attention to the alarming humanitarian tragedy.United States Senator Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy visited the refugee camps in India get a first hand experience of the situation.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi expressed her full support for the independence of East Pakistan. The Indian parliament shocked by the atrocities committed, passed a resolution calling upon West Pakistan to transfer power to the people of East Pakistan.
Soon after this, Ghulam Azam (Bangladeshi politician convicted of war crimes) met Tikka Khan (army general in the Pakistan Army who served as the first chief of army staff) to assure the latter of his full support and cooperation and labeled the liberation war a blatant act of “Indian interference and infiltration” and declared, “patriotic people of our province will help the armed forces to counter and destroy the evil designs of India”. (The Dainik Pakistan, April 7, 1971). Meanwhile refugees begin trickling into India. A Government-in-exile was soon formed and headquartered at Theatre Road.
The Blood telegram
Written by Archer Blood, the US Consul General in Dacca it is one of the most strongly worded Dissent Channel messages ever written by a Foreign Service Officer to the State Department in Washington. The reports describe the killings in gruesome detail and urge the strongest possible intervention to bring the carnage to an end. The consulate’s cables are met with what Blood later called a “deafening” silence from Washington.
News from Baltimore Audio
Two benefit concerts called The Concert for Bangladesh was organised by former Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The shows raised international awareness to fund relief efforts for refugees from East Pakistan. The concert was also launched as live albums and made into a concert documentary in 1972. This concert featured maestros like Ali Akbar Khan, Ringo Starr (member of Beatles), Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and Badfinger.
Shankar decades later said: “In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh. It was a fantastic occasion …”
The concerts were attended by a total of 40,000 people, and raised close to US$250,000 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. By 1985, through revenue raised from the Concert for Bangladesh live album and film, an estimated $12 million was sent to Bangladesh in relief
Concert For Bangladesh
In November, “Concert in Sympathy” was held at seven cities in United Kingdom participated by artists from Bangladesh, India and Great Britain. Leading Indian artists like Lata Mangeskar, Waheeda Rahman and Sharmila Thakur organized concert “Strings and Stars – A cry for help” for raising fund for Bangladesh independence.
In West Bengal, intellectuals and musicians like Tarasankar Bandopadhyay, Dipen Mukhopodhya, Suchitra Mitra consistently fought for liberation war through writings and musical soirees.
American poet Allen Ginsberg visited refugee camps and wrote his famous poem
“September on Jessore Road.
“Millions of souls nineteen seventy one
homeless on Jessore road under grey sun
A million are dead, the million who can
Walk toward Calcutta from East Pakistan
Where are our tears? Who weeps for the pain?
Where can these families go in the rain?
Jessore Road’s children close their big eyes
Where will we sleep when Our Father dies?
Ring O ye tongues of the world for their woe
Ring out ye voices for Love we don’t know
Ring out ye bells of electrical pain
Ring in the conscious of America brain
How many millions of children die more
before our Good Mothers perceive the Great Lord?
How many good fathers pay tax to rebuild
Armed forces that boast the children they’ve killed?
Millions of babies in pain
Millions of mothers in rain
Millions of brothers in woe
Millions of children nowhere to go”
New York, November 14-16, 1971
France was among the first to recognise the independence of Bangladesh after December 16, 1971 and appointed their ambassador in Dhaka in 1972. Great French philosopher Andre Malraux, declared his readiness to join Bangladesh liberation war.
French author and former French minister of culture André Malraux during the war of independence was so moved by the liberation war that he wrote about his desire to mount an Indian army tank and wage war against the military oppressors of Pakistan. He was honoured in 1973 by the Govt of Bangladesh.
The Diaspora Engagement
The Bangladesh Liberation Council of the Intelligentsia was an organization of displaced teachers, scientists, poets, artists, writers, journalists and actors of Bangladesh who escaped the clutches of the West Pakistani army during the war. The council was formed with the objective of supporting the war efforts of the Bangladesh Government, to press to the attention of the world to the case for independence, document crimes of the Pakistan Army, do educational work among the freedom fighters, find for their members means of subsistence while they work for the liberation movement.
Bengalis settled in UK organised rallies were held in major cities of UK. In April the Steering Committee of Bangladesh Action Committee for People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed at Coventry. They also formed a Trust Fund with Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, John Stone House MP and Donald Chesworth as Trustee. Fund was sent to help refugees and support freedom fighters.
Before the start of the genocide in March, the East Pakistan League of America was renamed as Bangladesh League of America. A huge rally was held in Washington DC and letters were sent to Senators, Congressmen and the President in support of the independence movement. Bangladesh League of America, Bangladesh Friendship Association and Joint Committee of Indian Organization organised a mass rally for the support of the cause of Bangladesh was held in New York in June, 1971.
“…Mr. Sheikh Ahmed Jalal, upon receiving instructions from the Bangladesh Government in Exile as early as May 1971, vigorously participated in the public opinion mobilization campaign. He actively maintained unofficial contacts with the Japanese government authorities, and carried out energetic lobbying among the civil society and general masses of Japan contributing immensely to early recognition of independent Bangladesh by the Government of Japan. He did his utmost to mobilize support in Japan in favor of the war, the freedom fighters, the displaced people and the refugees of Bangladesh.”
the address of H.E. Mr. Matsushiro Horiguchi, Ambassador of Japan in Bangladesh