Der vergessene Völkermord

NEU-DELHI – Vor genau 40 Jahren, im März 1971, setzte das pakistanische Militärregime unter Yahya Khan die „Operation Searchlight“ in Gang. Dieser Feldzug war nur das jüngste in einer Reihe von Pogromen zur Einschüchterung der widerspenstigen Bevölkerung im damaligen Ostpakistan – dem unabhängigen Bangladesch von heute. Was folgte, war eines der schlimmsten Massaker in der Geschichte der Menschheit, das die internationale Gemeinschaft heute so gut wie vergessen hat.

Pakistan war im Jahr 1947 aus der Teilung Britisch-Indiens hervorgegangen, sein Territorium im Zuge dessen allerdings in zwei Enklaven in etwa 1.500 Kilometer Entfernung voneinander unterteilt worden. Beide Landesteile hatten zwar den Islam als Religion gemeinsam, die kulturellen und sprachlichen Unterschiede zwischen Ost- und Westpakistan waren jedoch enorm.

Das Selbstverständnis im Ostteil war stark bengalisch geprägt und die Provinz wurde weiterhin von einer beträchtlichen hinduistischen Minderheit bewohnt. Zudem herrschte großer Unmut darüber, dass die politische Macht in den Händen von Politikern und Generälen im Westteil lag, die den bengalischen Interessen mit offenkundiger Gleichgültigkeit gegenübertraten. Vielen erschien es, als hätte Ostpakistan mit der Entstehung Pakistans lediglich eine Art von Kolonialismus gegen eine andere eingetauscht. Und während sich die Forderungen der Bengalen nach Autonomie mehrten, war die Reaktion wachsende Unterdrückung.

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