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South Asia Conference voiced to save Bangabandhu's life

DHAKA, March 23, 2016 (BSS)- Describing the East Pakistan situation of 1971 as a threat for the entire world the South Asia Conference forwarded five demands including intervention to save life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman before the globe to create pressure on the Pakistani government to put an end to their atrocities.

The South Asia Conference held in Toronto from August 19 through August 21, 1971 at Toronto, focused on the serious crisis in East Pakistan.

From the conference, they also requested all the governments across the globe to terminate immediately all military deliveries to Pakistan, to suspend all economic aid to Pakistan, to channel all possible resources into a massive emergency program for famine relief in East Pakistan to be directed and administered by the United Nations and demands to make firm continuing commitments to share fairly the economic burden of supporting the refugees in India.

The assembly adopted Toronto Declaration on August 21, 1971 that voiced against Pakistani atrocities.

The Pakistan army arrested Bangabandhu from his Dhanmandi residence at 1-10 am and whisked him away to Dhaka cantonment. On 26 March, he was flown to Pakistan as a prisoner. The same day, General Yahya Khan, in a broadcast banned the Awami League and called Bangabandhu a traitor.

Earlier, between August and September of 1971, the Pakistani junta held a secret trial of Bangabandhu inside Lyallpur jail in Pakistan. He was sentenced to death.

Describing the situation in East Pakistan as a threat for the entire world, the declaration said, "The Present situation is a threat to peace both in the subcontinent of South Asia and throughout the world, with danger of great power involvement in a familiar pattern of escalation."

More than 20 eminent personalities in the world adopted the "Toronto Declaration" requesting all the governments to eliminate military and economic aid to Pakistan expressing grave concern over four months of horrifying atrocities and military operations in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the Liberation War in 1971.

"We are horrified by the events of recent months in East Pakistan which have resulted in one of the major disasters in man's history. Millions of refugees have fled in the wake of atrocities and military operations---," the Toronto Declaration said.

It also said, "We appeal with the utmost urgency to all people in all countries to prevail upon their governments to act while there is still time."

The declaration was made in an international conference (the South Asia Conference) of people meeting in Toronto from August 19 through August 21, 1971 at Toronto, focused on the serious crisis in East Pakistan.

Internationally known noted South Asian experts including distinguished parliamentarians, scholars, administrators, and editors from different parts of the world took part in the conference.

The conference, sponsored by the private relief agency, Oxfam, was chaired by Mr. Hugh Keenleyside, former director general of UN Technical assistance and former Canadian ambassador to Indonesia and vice chaired by Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith, of Harvard, former US ambassador to India.

The signers of the declaration were: Rev. E. Johnson, N.C. Dahl, G. Papanek, J.T. Thorson, Gen. J.N. Chaudhuri, Patrick P. McDermatt, Niall Macdermot, Chester Ronning, James Barrington, Hanna Papanek, Bernard Braine,M.P, John Holmes, Ajit Bhattachajea, Nurul Hossain, John E. Rodhe, M.D., Rev. Eoin A. Mackay, Gerard Lachene, Thomas A. Dine, Hugh L. Keensleyside, Rev. Earnest Long, Judith Hart, M.P., Cornelia Rhode, Stanley Wolpert, Robert Drofman, Horner A. Jack.

Stressing the need for political settlement to end the crisis in East Pakistan, the conference called for an immediate end to all killings, saying, "This can be achieved only in the context of a political settlement.

There can be no lasting political solution without the democratic consent of the people of East Pakistan.