Is 3 million martyrs a myth?

The Mathematics of a Genocide

Abul Kasem

Pic: Dumped dead bodies: victims of Pakistani holocaust


President Yahya said, "Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands". (Robert Payne, Massacre, The Tragedy of Bangladesh and the Phenomenon of Mass Slaughter Throughout History; P50; New York, Macmillan, 1973)

A few Neo-Razakars and some Pakistanis are in the devious game again. They are trying to sow the seed of doubt in the minds of new generation of Bangalees about the severity of 1971 Genocide. One of these Neo-Razakars even had the audacity to say that only about few hundred thousand (150 000 - 250 000) people were killed in Bangladesh. We know why these people are suddenly active again when the Bangladesh election is just a month away. One Pakistani even said that it is nearly impossible for the 90 000 Pakistani soldiers to kill 3 million Bangladeshis in just 9 months time. Let us do some calculations to refute their well design plan. Let us take our calculator and do some calculations based on international data. We shall do this calculation and compare that with those of Cambodia, another land of genocide.



In 1981, UN's declaration of Universal Human Rights writes; "Among the genocides of human history, the highest number of people killed in lower span of time is in Bangladesh in 1971. An average of 6000 (six thousand) to 12 000 (twelve thousand) people were killed every single day..........This is the highest daily average in the history of genocide's." The occupation army of Pakistan committed this holy act for an approximate period of 260 days (from the night of 25 March,1971 to their surrender on the 16th. December, 1971). Using UN's figures multiply them with 260 days. What figures do we get? Please take a calculator and check this one out.

(1) Lower limit of Bangalee killed = 6 000 x 260 = 1 560 000 (1.56 million) Higher limit of Bangalee killed = 12 000 x 260 = 3 120 000 (3.12 million) We can take an average value of 2 340 000 (2.34 million)

(2) In 1971 there were around 75 million people in Bangladesh. The average size of a Bangalee family was around 5 (five) at that time. Divide 75 million by 5 which gives 15 million families in Bangladesh in 1971. Number killed per family = 0.16 (2.34 million divided by 15 million) Number of families affected with at least one family member killed = 6.4 (15 million divided by 2.34 million).

This is 42.7% (6.4 multiplied by 100 and divided by 15) of families. For simplicity, let us use a round figure of 40%. This means that 40% of Bangalee families were affected with the loss of at least one family member. Of course, there were thousands of families where the loss of family members was more than one. In many cases, the entire family excepting a lone survivor was wiped out. If these facts are taken in to consideration then the average percentage affected (40%) will change.

(3) Numbers killed by each Pakistani soldier = 26 persons (2.34 million divided by 90 000 soldiers) in 260 days. I have excluded the Razakars who joined the Pakistani soldiers later. An approximate number of Razakars will be around 50,000 to 60,000 or may be more. No one knows the real data). Do your own calculations if you want to include the Razakars.

(4) Numbers killed by each Pakistani soldier per day is 0.1 person. (26 divided by 260).

That is, one Pakistani soldier killed at least one Bangalee in every ten days. Is that an impossible job? Are these numbers unbelievable? The 3 million people killed by the Pakistani soldiers is not at all impossible. The above calculations clearly demonstrate this fact. That was exactly what happened in Bangladesh. In fact, the September 1972 issue of National Geographic clearly writes that more than 3 million people were killed in Bangladesh. This fact was revealed almost after a year of the carnage. Therefore, the records are surely more authentic and free from bias.



Let us now look in to another genocide, which has no match in human history. This is the genocide by Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Official figure of genocide toll is 1.7 million (many sources quote a figure of around 2 million. But let us work with the 1.7 million figure). This was not done in 260 days (like Pakistani soldiers) but within a period of Khmer Rouge rule of 4 (four) years (from 1975 to 1979). Cambodia's population in 1970 was 6.94 million and its population in 1988 was 7.87 million. The average population growth in Cambodia can be taken as 2.3% (Source: Book of Vital World statistics; by The Economist Books (page 16). Published by Hutchinson Business books Ltd. London, 1990). Using this population growth rate we can calculate the following. The population of Cambodia in 1974 (genocide year) would have been around 7.6 million (1.023 raised to the power of 4 then multiplied by 6.94 million). Number of Cambodians killed = 1.74 million. Therefore, % of population killed = 22.8% (in Cambodia) % of population killed in Bangladesh = 4% (using the 3 million figure) I do not have the data for the average family size in Cambodia. So, using the same assumption as in Bangladesh (5 members per family). Numbers of families in Cambodia in 1974 = 1.52 million Numbers of people killed per family in Cambodia in 1974 = 1.14 Number of people killed per day (for 4 years) = 1192


Now, let us assume that the Khmer rouge squeezed the time of killing to 260 days instead of 4 years. Then the number of people killed per day (in 260 days) would have been around 7000 (seven thousand per day). This figure is not very far off from the daily killings in Bangladesh.

We can conclude the following

The figure 3 million is not a pie in the sky figure. It is quite an accurate estimate of the people killed in Bangladesh in 1971. 90,000 Pakistani soldiers can and did kill the 3 million Bangalees in approximately 9 months time. It was not an impossible task as suggested by some Pakistani. In terms of severity and the density of people killed per family, the Cambodian genocide is far worse than Bangladesh genocide. (1.14 per family in Cambodia vs.0.16 per family in Bangladesh). In reality, the density of killing in Cambodia was about 7 times more ferocious than in Bangladesh. Approximately 40% families in Bangladesh lost at least one family member. Every family in Cambodia lost more than one family member. In terms of speed of killing, Bangladesh genocide is the worst in history. An average of 9000 (mean of 6 000 and 12 000 of the U.N figure) people killed per day for 260 days versus approximately 1200 people killed per day (for 4 years) in Cambodia. The big difference between the Bangladesh genocide and the Cambodian genocide was this. Cambodia set up a People's Revolutionary Tribunal in August 1979 to try Pol Pot and Ieng Sary. They were tried in absentia (at least). This was the first genocide trial based on UN policy. No such trial ever took place in Bangladesh. Do our politicians have the guts to do what the humble Cambodians did for justice? To my mind, the answer is simply 'no'. All our politicians are impotent. They are still hooked on 'Islamic brotherhood.� The people must revolt and establish their own tribunal to bring justice. This tribunal should also try our impotent, gutless politicians for failing to deliver justice when they were in power. Is this possible in Bangladesh?


Some afterthoughts

The gratuitous and wanton killing of astronomical number of unarmed Bangalees by marauding soldiers of Pakistan should not go unpunished. We ask the International Tribune on Human Rights to look into this crime against humanity seriously and do the needful. Some of the officers are still in theirs sixties and seventies. Time is running out. Some of these killers are respectable citizens of Pakistan who are collecting their pension sitting in the comfort of their home. These killers should be apprehended and bring to International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands.




The number-game has popped up again about our martyrs of 1971. While there are killer Maolanas and corrupt politicians (almost al of ours) to play with this, I prefer not to take any NFB-writer as any of them. While trust on our writers is important, distortion or simply presentation of information has profound impact on the result. Far from being a musician I am trying to clarify this with basic music-math, to address an accredited musician-writer in his language of mind (mine too!).

One change of NISHAD from “KOMOL” to “SHUDDHO” changes Malkosh to Chondrokosh, an altogether different Raag with complete different taste. One change of “KOMOL GANDHAR” to “SHUDDHO GANDHAR” changes Bagesree to Ragesree, again a very different Raag with different taste. Small changes in Raag Mollar create Meghmollar, Surmollar, Notmollar, Mia-Ki-Mollar, Ramdashi-Mollar (there are others, don’t remember now) etc, all with very different impressions and impacts. Inclusion of NISHAD to Raag Abhog transforms it to Bagesree, exclusion of KORhI-MA (MA as a whole) could not stop Bhupali from being included in the KOLLYAN-THAAT.

Without any note-change, if the SA of Bhupali is shifted to its own PA, then the Sargam changes from SA RE GA PA DHA SA to SA RE MA PA DHA SA, which is nothing but Raag Durga, again with a very different impact. EVEN WITHOUT ANY CHANGE OF NOTES (information), ONLY DIFFERENT MOVEMENT (presentation) OF THE TUNE CHANGES RAAG DARBARI TO JOUNOPURI, AND RAAG BHUPALI TO DESHKAAR. Please correct if this non-musician is wrong.

The spirit of 1971 has been victimized form all the angles of the examples given above, by our own people. So the spirit did the very right thing, it just evaporated. The recent number-game of 3-million resulted in confusion in people’s mind. We do have figures from World Bank, foreign Universities, Newspapers and other establishments like National Geographic, even from the UN-Human Rights Department, ranging from 0.25 to 3 million, thanks to Mukto-Mona, (NOT so called “Murkho-Mona”, Sir! Let us break the nasty prison of name-calling and get out of it, all of us.) That is a huge span, never academically addressed. These figures, though from accredited institutions, do not enjoy the support of any documented research in our vast villages.

Without any backing of formal research and survey, “3-million” always remained vulnerable though it went unchallenged for many years and got its wide acceptability. Nobody, except a character of Humayun Ahmed’s TV-Drama, took the initiative of such an important follow up of number-count of our genocide. Now as the wind has changed its direction, there are innocent academic / ill-motivated efforts to verify / challenge it. We must realize that it is only natural, unless our Govt. gives the job to an International Institution (Uuuups! His Excellency The Mottya-Razakar & Co. is right there sitting in our Parliament!). Now we can only speculate, “debate” endlessly, and get more confused about the seriousness of the genocide. Keeping in mind that the criminals of 1971 and their supporters want that, the only healthy way left for us now is to take “3 Million” as not an absolute but as an arbitrary number, because we need a number to address the issue of genocide. ALL NUMBERS ARE NOT ABSOLUTE, WE DO USE ARBITRARY NUMBERS EXTENSIVELY ALL THE TIME IN OUR LIVES.

In the Qura’an when God changes his oneness to plurality, uses “WE” or “US” for Himself, the expression is only “SHOMMANARTH-E BOHUBOCHON”, He is still one. When the young Prince criss-crosses Seven Seas and Thirteen Rivers in search of the life-bird of the demon, he only travels from horizon to horizon. When we pardon “SHAAT KHOON” of our dear ones, we never mean seven killings. “PONCHO BYANJON” may not be exactly five dishes; “PONCHOBOTI” may have fifty “Bot”-trees. “SHOPTODINGA” is only one huge boat. “DOSH NEKI” or “SOTTOR SAWAB” is far from real numbers. “SHOPTO ASMAN” does not exist at all. There are not seven but twelve different notes in each “SHOPTOK” of a harmonium or keyboard, “CHALSHE” also may happen before or after 40 years of age. You could buy “ASHEE” mangoes in fifties in the mango market, which was really a hundred, and during the ”NEEL”-time of British Bengal the ignorant peasants actually had to pay 25 bundles of their produce to meet the “KURhI” of the system. “3 million” today is like the existence of god. If one does not believe in it, there are “proofs”. If one believes in it, there are stronger “proofs”. While it is so, in the absence of a Judge why must we be lost in this endless debate where none but only the killers win?

I repeat, we need a number to address the issue of 71’s genocide. We may get an all-acceptable number if and when the criminals will be dragged to the court and a formal investigation will be done. Until then our best option is to regard “3 million” as not an absolute but an arbitrary number.