Bangladesh: Statement of Apology and Solidarity

Forty-four years ago, atrocities of gigantic proportions and irreversible pain were committed against the people of now-Bangladesh by the Pakistani establishment. West Pakistan committed systematic genocide of the Bengali people, espousing colonial extermination policies. This is unpardonable. We are the O Collective, a group of queer Pakistanis, and we acknowledge the atrocities committed in our name against the people of Bangladesh. We acknowledge that December 16, 1971, marks the end of a dark time, where Bangladesh was freed from the oppressive and murdering forces of a would-be colonizing state apparatus. We, in our struggle against homophobia and transphobia, recognize that we must also struggle with our past, our culpability and the ringing silence of our history books on the brutalization, rape and murder of Bengali people, people we claimed were our fellow country-people. We stand in shame for what was done to the people of Bangladesh and, for what it’s worth, here, now, we unreservedly apologize for these atrocities. The O Collective calls on all defenders of human dignity in Pakistan to confront this history and hold the state of Pakistan accountable for the Bengali genocide of 1971. We call on all Pakistanis to take a hard look at ourselves on this day. December 16 has acquired a new and horrible significance since the massacre of the students of the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014. Today, as we remember and memorialize, all across Pakistani television and print media, and in banners along Pakistani city roads, the children brutally and callously murdered a year ago today, we must remember that violence begets violence, war begets war, and that participation in the cynical global politics of control and devastation will only lead us to further death – more children will die, more graves will be dug, more lives will be destroyed. Today, we, the O Collective, mourn the dead of APS, and all the children murdered by the War on Terror. Today, we remember the dead that are not memorialized by the state, but have died nonetheless as a result of the same geopolitics. And today we remember what we have been taught to forget: the raped, the brutalized, the dead of Bangladesh, killed in our name. We must give voice to the truth. The brutalities of nationalism can only be overcome by a rainbow of solidarity which transcends the otherwise impassable borders. We stand in solidarity with our queer friends in Bangladesh and offer this small act of rectification. It is insufficient, we know. But if you will have us, we stand with you, fellow queers in a brutal and violent world.