Liberation War Museum commemorates Launching of "Testimony of Sixty"

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Offline Shamim Ansary

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On 21st October 2010, Liberation War Museum staged a commemorative function recalling the launching of the Testimony of Sixty, a crucial 1971 Liberation War document that contained an appeal by 60 distinguished foreigners drawing world attention towards the genocides of Bengalis.

The 60 distinguished people including the then US senator Edward Kennedy, Mother Teresa and a number of reputed international journalists like Alan Hart of BBC and aid workers signed the joint statement on this day in 1971.


The testimony, containing the personal experiences of the sixty about the situation, was sent to the heads of states of all the countries seeking their interventions against the Pakistani atrocities to provide succour to the distressed millions.

"It was difficult to keep the crisis on the front pages of the world newspapers," aid worker Julian Francis, one of the co-signatories of the Testimony said today recalling the background of the situation at that time that had prompted the sixty foreign nationals to launch the appeal.

Francis, who is now again in Bangladesh this time working for a British funded development programme for char people, joined the commemorative function to narrate his experience and the background of the Testimony.
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The news of the genocide of March 25, he recalled, put it on the front pages and with outbreak of cholera in May and June at the refugee camps, it was on front page again and "again when the camps got flooded it was front page news".

Francis was a young aid worker of Oxfam at that time when he shouldered a difficult task to offer food, shelter and Medicare services to five lakhs of Bengali refugees, who fled their home to take refuge in India to evade the atrocities.

Despite the US government stand against Bangladesh's independence, influential US Senator Kennedy appeared as a strong international voice to highlight the Bangladesh's cause and the atrocities while he called Pakistani military campaign "a systematic terror" in the Testimony.

"Mr President, the crisis in east Bengal is a story of human misery on a scale unequalled in modern times. It is a story of systematic terror and military repression, of indiscriminate killing and the killing and dislocation of millions of civilisation," Kennedy said.

". . . Perhaps this is because we are conditioned in the world we have created to accept such sufferings and injustice," he went on.

Liberation War Museum volunteers staged a mime depicting the 1971 scenario in line with the Testimony of Sixty, which was read out to mark the launch of the document 39 years ago.

The museum authority circulated a statement saying they staged the function also to strengthen the government initiatives to expose to justice the perpetrators of "crimes against humanity" during the Liberation War.

"We appeal to you all to support the cause of Bangladesh to bring to justice the perpetrators of Genocides of 1971 so that we can put an end to impunity and uphold truth and justice to all humanity the world over," Akku Chowdhury, a trustee of the Museum said.

-BSS
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