Rajshahi University students organized a rally and formed a human chain demanding justice against the war criminals of the War of Liberation in 1971. Rajshahi, Bangladesh. November 10 2008.
Photo by: Iqbal Ahmed, Rajshahi,Drik*NEWS.
One of the major issues that influenced the Bangladeshi voters to vote massively in favour of the mahajote in Election 08 leading to their landslide victory is its commitment to try the war criminals and combat terrorism. Bangladesh won independence on 16th December 1971 after 9 months of bloody liberation war. Approxiamtely 3 million people laid down their lives and 100 thousand women were violated. Few hundred top Intellectuals – university professors, poets, artists, singers, Engineers, Doctors, and Journalists were brutally killed by the occupation army and their Bangladeshi collaborators. It is unbelievable to even imagine that a nation born of blood bath of 3 million and violation of 1 million women failed to bring the identified war criminals and anti liberation force under justice in 37 long years.
War criminals those actively collaborated with Pakistani occupation force in brutal killings of innocent civilians, raping of helpless women, looting and arsenal were even made Prime Minister and minsters .They moved in cars with national flags for which millions made supreme sacrifice. These obnoxious weeds conspired against our war heroes, dreamers of liberation war and were involved in killing many of them. They have grown like mushroom and now have their roots firmly anchored. Many businesses, commercial banks are owned by them. Riding on so called nationalist party they have infiltrated everywhere and planted their cadre in Army, Police, Civil Administration and even in foreign mission. Fortunately Sectors Commanders forum could lead a massive propaganda mission this time and could motivate the masses to vote out the criminals and their sponsors. So among other issues trial of war criminals must rank among the top priority national agenda of the new government.
Many say it is late. Many say Bangabandhu, the father of the nation and the architect of the liberation war pardoned all war criminals under general amnesty. For the sake of correcting records these requires be addressed first.Consitution of 1972 prepared and approved by Bangabandhu government had a provision to try genuine war criminals and collaborators under collaborators act. Bangabandhu never pardoned genuine war criminals against whom allegations of murder, raping, looting and arsenal were recorded. Many were convicted and at least 30,000 of them were in jail. 90000 Pakistan army which surrendered to allied force of Mukhti Bahini and Indian force were to be allowed to let go back to Pakistan as a trade off to bring back stranded Bangladeshis from Pakistan. But there was no bar to try Pakistan Army if convicted as war criminals. With UN assistance it is still very much possible if the war crimes can be established with documentary evidences. Many social organisations of Pakistan accepted their mistakes of 1971 and sought apology.
On the other hand handful of Bangladeshi collaborators never acknowledged their mistakes or begged apology for their heinous acts. Nothing can stop in trying and punishing the identified Bangladeshi War criminals and Collaborators of Pakistan army. Many of the victims are still moving from door to door seeking justice; many authentic records and documentary evidences are still available. War criminals are w always war criminals. They can be tried under country’s law, international law at any time.
Libration war is our pride. Our freedom fighters are the greatest souls of the soil. We can not breadth freely in an independent country due to supreme sacrifice and glorious struggle of freedom fighters many of whom are now leading miserable life. The souls of martyred freedom fighters can not rest in peace till the war criminals get punishment for their crimes and atrocities. Politics of killings, organised terrorism can never stop till these war criminals are wiped out with their roots.
Many argue Bangabandhu and leaders of liberation war were killed by a group of freedom fighters and not anti liberation force. This is very incorrect. This is a very unfortunate propaganda. People talk without having knowledge at all. During the liberation war few elements were planted by Pakistan Army Intelligence in the liberation force to frustrate the war, create divson among liberation force.Khondkar Mushtaque, Taheruddin Thakoor, Mahbubul Alam Chaseey were the leading political figures which were always active in 1971 to sabotage liberation war. One ambitious sector commander who was known as Major (Retreat) very cunningly hatched conspiracy. On the other hand great Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, Mansur Ali and Quamruzzaman led the civil front and Col (Retd) Osmany, other liberation war sector commanders successfully led war front to win independence. 99.9 % Bangladeshis in different forms participated in the liberation war .By October –November 1971 it started getting clear that Bangladesh independence was a matter of time. We would have own it without Indian interference in another 3-6 months but Indian army hurried it .Otherwise our freedom fighters could wipe out Pakistanis, conspirators and collaborators. But there was a chance of others interfering as US moved 7th fleet although US senators and people like other world community were very vocal against Pakistan atrocities. Pakistan army, Razkars, Albadars killed hundreds of Bangladeshi leading intellectuals on 14th A Decembers 1971 when it became evident that Bangladesh was going to be liberated in no time. Why should sons, daughers, wives, parents of those intellectuals bear these losses for ever without getting justice for the crimes? Why should we not see the collaborators of Pakistan army who killed our many fellow freedom fighter friends got punished in our life time?
37 years delay for trial of war criminals is not a long time. When we find war criminals of Second World War are punished even today. From 1971 to 1990 many of the liberation front commanders, main stream leading political leaders were killed in unfortunate incidents. But none of the war criminals or anti liberation force were punished. Rather they grew from strength to strength, infiltrated slowly and steadily in all spheres of control. Police, Army, Civil administration almost everywhere. They set up Banks, financial institutions, insurance companies. They made all madrashas and many mosques their training grounds of militant party cadre.
Bangladesh Awami League won election in 1996 .They could scrap indemnity bill and proceed with Banagabandhu N Murder case and Zail killing .But they also remained silent about trial of war criminals. It was left to the cancer patient mother of our martyred freedom fighter friend Rumi Jahanara Imam and Poet Sufia Kamal to form Ghatok Dalal neermul committee to keep the issue of trial of War criminals alive. During Awami League rule sevral positive milestones were achieved, but they failed to complete Bangabandhu Murder case trial and initiate the trial of War criminals. These were definite black spots of Awami Rule of 1996-2001.
BNP gradually aligned with War Criminals and anti liberation force. The war criminals sponsored and organised terrorism .Many attempts were made to kill PM Sheikh Hasina, popular politician Kazi Aref got killed, Bomb attack was carried out in Udichi program in Jessore, bomb attackes were carried out on Bangla Nababorsho program at Ramna Botomul.Unfortunately Awami League could not carry out authentic probe into these acts of killings and terrorism while in power,National and international conspiracy brought back BNP-Jamat alliance to power in 2001 triggering the darkest chapter of Bangladesh history. Corruption, terrorism, anarchy reigned supreme. Terrorists were sate sponsored to kill opposition leaders, brave journalists. Manik Shah, Balu were gunned down in Khulna, A, S.M.S Kibria got killed in Habiganj; Ahsanullah Master got killed in Tongi.
Terrorists Bangabngla Bhai and Shaeik Abdur Rahman created killing squad everywhere under state sponsorship. When things went out of control. Government created drams and executed the Frankenstein they created. In the meantime terrorists managed to carry out simultaneous grenade attacks in all 64 districts of Bangladesh. Terrorists carried out grenade attack on Bangladesh born British high commissioner in Sylhet. Several grenade attackes were carried out to kill the Popular Sylhet Mayor Badruddin Kamran. The most heinous state sponsored crime was possibly carried out in the broad day light at Ramna meeting of Hasina to kill her. Noted smuggler was the state minister of Home. He and the DGNSI were allegedly mastermind of all these attacks under the blessing of Hawa Bhaban. Ironically to shield the fundamentalists and war criminals Government created smoke and harassed many progressive elements like Muntasir Mamun, Shahariar Kabir, Hasan Imam, and Saber Chowdhury for many of these incidents. Shahriar Kabir was targeted for his strong role against anti liberation force. The greatest recent time day Bangla poet Shamsur Rahman was targeted, great writer Humayun Ahmed was first seriously injured and then mysteriously killed. In 5 years BNP-Jamat alliance tried everything to wipe out opposition and positive thinkers, proliberation force. The group agitating for trial of War criminals were branded as anti sate element and their trial process started in the court.
Two war criminals in the cabinet consolidated their position everywhere. The pro liberation fair minded officials from everywhere were combed out.The civil society which was always vocal against corruption and terrorism were harassed by all possible means. Finally the alliance did manifold election engineering to win election. The provision of care taker government was deliberately illegally exploited. Opposition finding no alternative resorted to violent street agitation. The civil war like situation was created in the end 2006 when BNP_-Jamat Allaiance handed over power to CTG headed by their own President. The conspiracy still continued. The Grand alliance and BNP led alliance were clashing on the streets. Army backed reformed CTG took over on 11/01/07.
In almost two years many positive achievements and some failures led to December 29th 08 national election in a free, fair and credible environment. Bangladesh Awami League led Mahajote has won landslide victory. The Government has just commenced office. Several key challenges will test the skills of the government soon. But one of the major outstanding issues is the trial of the War criminals. The process must start soon. If necessary the constitution of 1972 should be reinstated. All other killings and acts of terrorism must be probed again fairly and culprits must be punished.
The nation must remain united seeking punishment of war criminals .Delay will give opportunity to the international guardians of war criminals to hatch fresh conspiracy to create crisis and destabilise the situation. Let this contentious issue is taken out of the way to brighten image of Bangladesh respecting ideals of the ideals of the liberation war.
The trial of War criminals must proceed in a proper manner. A special tribunal may s be set up by a decision of the parliament in its first session. A special cell must collect and collate all information of war crimes and evidence from various published reports. The victims family and knowledgeable persons must provide all evidences. All victim families must be given state protection as the agents of criminals will try to make desperate attempt to sabotage the trial process. No alleged criminals should be allowed to leave Bangladesh till the crimes against them are established with documentary evidence. As soon as the trial starts the criminals and their linked terrorists will try to carry out terrorist activities to destablilise the country. All must remember that they have huge money, regimented cadre. Police, Rab and intelligence agency must remain alert and vigilant.
Cultural actvistis through, literature, movies, dramas, songs and other cultural activities must keep up the tempo of the sentiment against war criminals and terrorists.
Insha Allah the way the nation is mobilized we will soon witness the trials of the war criminals in the independent soil of Bangladesh.
Kh A Saleque is one of our guest writers, He is an Engineer by profession and lives in Australia.