Le génocide oublié

NEW DELHI – Il y a exactement 40 ans, en mars 1971, le régime militaire de Yahya Khan lançait l’opération « Searchlight ». Cette offensive était la dernière d’une série de massacres commis pour intimider la population rebelle de ce qui était alors le Pakistan oriental – le Bangladesh indépendant actuel. Ce qui s’ensuivit fut l’un des pires bains de sang de l’histoire de l’humanité, aujourd’hui presque entièrement oublié par la communauté internationale.

Le Pakistan est né de la partition des Indes britanniques en 1947, mais son territoire était divisé en deux enclaves séparées et distantes de plus de 1500 kilomètres l’une de l’autre. Même si les deux parties partageaient une religion commune, l’islam, il existait des différences culturelles et linguistiques importantes entre le Pakistan occidental et le Pakistan oriental.

La population du Pakistan oriental entretenait un très fort sentiment d’appartenance bengalie et une minorité hindoue importante continuait à vivre dans cette province. La population était également exacerbée par le fait que le pouvoir politique était aux mains de politiciens et de généraux de la province occidentale, notoirement insensibles aux demandes des Bengalis. Nombre d’entre eux pensaient qu’avec la création du Pakistan, le Pakistan oriental avait échangé une forme de colonisation pour une autre. Et au fur et à mesure que les revendications en faveur de l’autonomie devinrent plus pressantes, la répression s’accentua.

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