Within the last century the concept of a global village has taken off more than it did in the previous generations. More people, from all walks of life are aware of what this concepts means. The era of social media, with Facebook and twitter becoming more popular by the minute has enabled people to feel more akin to the global village than ever before. News which occurs on one end of the world can be heard of and seen within minutes, on the other side of the world. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other disasters are more widely reported and in turn has made us become more interconnected than we have ever been, thanks to the growing influence of media in our lives. The front-runner for this cause being the internet.
Those of us who have had the fortune of living life before the birth of the internet can assertion that news about currents events was not as readily available as it is today. We are now in a phase of the world where a person sitting in his living room in china, can view the bedroom of another person in america, via the internet video streaming utility. This has led to the world becoming more of a global family in every sense of the word. Bringing the world more closer and making the civilian population more vigilant about events. As compared to previous generations who may have had the misfortune of dealing with problems/disasters on a local/national level only.
This interconnectedness, being part of a greater picture, – the global village, gave birth to the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’. A fairly recent term coined after the Rwandan genocide. ‘Crimes against humanity’ defines the weight of crimes committed by a group of people, and places the scales of accountability on the shoulders of the unjust and oppressive ruler.
The epitome of the concept of a global village was seen perfectly flourishing during in the Rwandan Genocide period and the Bosnian Genocide. We saw the world come together and pull a united front against the oppressors. Although many would argue practically nothing was done to protect the
mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda.
Due the wide media coverage and the interconnected nature of a global village, people were nonetheless able to fully appreciate the gravity of the situation and in turn be aware of what was happening in other parts of the world, namely Rwanda. It is a different matter and a point of discussion for another time, as to what actually was done to prevent any further mass murders from taking place. In the same token of gesture, the Bosnian Genocide also attracted a large media attention, by which eventually something had to be done to stop the massacre. By all accounts the definition of ethnic cleansing covers the following area;
A purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas
With this in mind, we as muslims are quick to take up arms at the sight of oppression committed by non-muslims upon muslims. The plight of the Palestinians’ is illustrative enough of the idea. In more recent times, we have also seen that we support the oppressed muslims even if the oppressor is another muslim and not just the non-muslims. Again this boils down to the wide media coverage of the recent arab spring. It gave and continues to give hope to those who saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Where all was seemingly lost. However, what if i was to say, that a catastrophe, a genocide was to take place, where there is no mass media coverage, where the concept of a global village does not exist. Where the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ does not exist. Would you be interested or even want to hear of the story of a group of people, oppressed and subjugated, seen as the scum and dirt of the earth by another group of people? The answer would probably be no, ‘i’m not interested!’.
Now, picture a genocide happening in the late 60s and early 70s where the group of people being oppressed, raped, slaughtered and bodies maimed and mutilated just because they were from another ethnic minority. Who were only seeking to have equal rights as their next door brethren! On top of that, imagine this mass murder being carried out by other so-called muslims. In due process wiping out almost 3 million muslims off the face of the earth! How would you feel? would you feel the way you do now, when you see oppression and injustice? The feeling of sadness and remorse for the oppressed?
With no mass media coverage, the blogosphere or the social media to cover the unfolding events and set a blaze people twitting, facbooking, and reporting their absolute disgust and abject horror at the oppression. How many people do you think will be aware of such catastrophe during that era, in the late 60s and early 70s? Hardly anyone. Those who do know will most likely be people in their mid 40s and 50s. The young being completely oblivious to the inhumane crimes being orchestrated.
This was the exact case and scenario when Pakistan and Bangladesh, then known as east pakistan were in bitter dispute. The war broke out on 26 March 1971 as army units directed by West Pakistan launched a military operation in East Pakistan against Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, and armed personnel who were demanding separation of the East from West Pakistan, due to the constant oppression, vilification and repression of the Bengali populace. This eventually led India coming into the war and supporting the east Pakistanis, to liberate themselves and rightfully earn the right to an independent nation. On 25 March 1971, rising political discontent, fueled by;
Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s first Governor-General, declaration in 1948. In which he declared in Dhaka that “Urdu, and only Urdu” would be the common language for all of Pakistan.
This proved highly controversial, and cultural nationalism in East Pakistan was met by brutal suppressive force from the ruling élite of the West Pakistan establishment in what came to be termed Operation Searchlight. The spark for a war and a new country was set.
The violent crackdown by West Pakistan forces [Much like the crackdowns during the arab spring] led to Awami League leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declaring East Pakistan’s independence as the state of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971.
All these attempts at ethic cleansing and repression occurred in an era where there was no Facebook or twitter, and the internet was in its early stages of infancy. I end with what i began with, we as muslim can become very narrow-minded and rigid. We are quick to take up arms in defence of the oppressed muslim, only if the oppressor is a non muslim. And now only recently, are doing the same with the muslim oppressor. But, would we do the same things if these ethnic cleansing and oppressions were done by muslims to other muslims back in the late 60s and early 70s, without the social amd mass media to fuel our interests? Or, will we turn blind eye and say, ‘that’s their problem, let them sort it out.
One of the main reasons why i finally decided to write this after a few months of careful consideration was because of the continued onslaught of racism and insults the Bangladeshis are having bare the brunt of. By the so-called Pakistani ‘brethren’! The recent final cricket match between Bangladesh and pakistan in the asia cup, set the spark of discontent and nationalism going off again. Where many Bangladeshis were abused with the term ‘east Pakistanis’ being used to refer to the Bangladeshis, and their former deranged and subjugated state.
Finally, this article is not to critize any group of people nor, is it to show support for one group of people over the another. This is simply laying the facts and letting the younger generations who would not have been around at the time to know about the Pakisani Genocide and let see what they make of it. Presented in a clean cut, simple and straight forward manner, for the minds and hearts of the new generations.