Sunday 16 August 2020

Martyrs of the Liberation War (Bangladesh, 1973)

We had a stamp from India not so long ago which was issued as a kind of tax to raise funds for refugee relief. The refugees in question were Bangladeshis fleeing the conflict between West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh).

The 1970 elections in East Pakistan led to a stalemate. Military action against Bengalis led to an upsurge in nationalism. On 25 March 1971, West Pakistan launched a brutal campaign of genocide against Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, religious minorities and armed personnel. The next day, Bangladesh declared its independence and in April, it declared a provisional government in exile in India. As we saw in the previous stamp, it was brutal: some 10 million Bengalis fled to India and 30 million were displaced within Bangladesh and Pakistan. India entered the conflict in December 1971 and this additional force was enough to push Pakistan to surrender. The majority of member states of the UN recognised Bangladesh as a nation in 1972.

The stamp is simple, poignant and lyrical; a pause for thought.

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