RIPAN KUMAR BISWAS
WHAT is to prevent anyone from filing cases against someone else accused of collaborating with the Pakistani Army in 1971?
Is that the blanket amnesty issued by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, in January, 1972 due to the pressure from Islamic countries (including the OIC), chaotic internal situation, or the necessity to encourage peace and development steps to be considered for recognition and International Aid without which Bangladesh had the Famine of 1973-74? The general amnesty was the first among many political mistakes which opened the door for rehabilitation of the war criminals of 1971.
According to his recent comment in a meeting with the Election Commission (EC) of Bangladesh on electoral reforms on October 25, 2007, there are presently no war criminals in Bangladesh and in fact anti-liberation forces were never even existed.
Ali Ahsan Mujahidi, the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic fundamentalist party in Bangladesh and the former social welfare minister from 2001-2006 in the last four-party alliance government, further denied his association against liberation of Bangladesh and added that late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had declared only 195 Pakistani soldiers as war criminals in the liberation war of Bangladesh who later were pardoned and repatriated to Pakistan through Bhutto-Indira Simla pact.
In a similar remark in an interview with a Dhaka based Bengali daily newspaper on August 8, 2007, Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami and former Industrial Minister, blasted how could they be called or accused as war criminals whether none has even filed a general diary with the police against them.
Talking with this top two major identity and their association during the liberation war according to the various local or international reports, features, sources, speeches and statements of those accused of war crimes, and the finds of different probes including the People's Enquiry Commission, both of them, however, were not physically presence in the every killing-campaign proceedings, looting or raping but also were at the center-stage of the anti liberation campaign by helping and providing all necessaries to the Pakistan army with the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing.
They and their Dhaka murderers in the Al-Badr and Al-Shams were directly involved of the killings of renowned academics, litterateurs, doctors, engineers, journalists and other eminent personalities with a view to leave the nation intellectually crippled on December 14, 2007.
There are much more evidence and allegations can be submitted including for the others senior Jamaat leaders Abdus Sobhan, Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Abdul Kader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who were in the delegation to the EC have been charged with war crimes. They all refused to accept that parties on the basis of religion and war criminals will be disqualified to do politics or to contest or even to cast vote in any national elections in Bangladesh. In addition, they reminded that the constitution of Bangladesh does not support the demand since Islam is the state religion and 90 percent of the populations are Muslims.
When a person or a group is involved against national, racial or religious groups to destroy their political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, economic existence, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups, what left to mark them as criminals or war criminals? Anti liberation forces in Bangladesh were actively involved to destroy the essential foundations of Bangladesh, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.
The world has seen genocide, but the worst genocide in the annals of history, in 1971, could not have been carried out by the Pakistani army only. Local allies of the Pakistan army helped in the attempted extermination.
According to the July 30, 1971 of the New York Times issue, the Pakistani government recruited more than 22,000 Razakars of a planned force of 35,000. Politically Razakar were composed with the fundamentalist members and supporters from the whole country by the Pakistani military and they were the predecessors of today’s Taliban. Members of both the forces, Razakars and Taliban, were recruited, trained and inducted in the same process.
Jamaat had been constitutionally banned in Bangladesh up to 1976 since the independence of the country, until late president Ziaur Rahman, who was the chief martial law administrator at the time, reinstated it in mainstream politics despite their fundamentalist ideology. It has steadily rebuilt itself into a strong political force, and was often courted by other parties for support in elections and first came to share state power with BNP in 2001 as part of the immediate past ruling alliance.
The major political parties in the country Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jatiya Party (JP) or even the Awami League (AL), which is supposed to associate closely with the issues of liberation war and its spirit and aspirations of independence, freely did include, within their folds, persons with serious questionable roles in the liberation war. It is not the victory of such persons or religious based political groups rather than the failure of secular democratization when parties like AL need to sign a 5-point pact with Shaikhul Hadis Allama Azizul Haq, leader of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKH) on December 23, 2006.
No one has anything to say when election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain suggested the Jatiya Party (Manju) delegation at the same dialog on electoral laws reforms to produce the list of convicted war criminals before demanding that they should be barred from contesting polls.
Meanwhile, a case was filed in the Federal Court of Australia on September 20, 2006 under the Genocide Conventions Act 1949 and War Crimes Act, alleged crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during 1971 by the Pakistani Armed Forces and its collaborators. This is the first time in history that someone named Raymond F Solaiman is attending a court proceeding in relation to the crimes of Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during 1971.
Recently, United States Senate has adopted a legislation titled "Denying Safe Havens to International and War Criminals Act of 1999". In where for the first time, it has empowered the Attorney General, among others, to transfer international criminals in custody for prosecution. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of US is denying admission or removing aliens who have committed torture abroad.
To further consolidate their grip on the country, the defeated forces of the 1971 liberation war are now carrying out bomb attacks across Bangladesh. They don't believe in democracy, rather they use it as a way of surviving, and propagating their views. Their main aims are the destruction of democracy and the implantation of a totalitarian state based on Sharia law.
Although the leader of Jamaat-e-Islam Golam Azam's citizenship was revoked, the whole political scenario was changed after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. General Ziaur Rahman granted Golam-Azam Bangladeshi citizenship, released all the war criminals imprisoned on various criminal charges and by amending the constitution allowed them to be involved in politics. Many of them awarded and posted with high designation both nationally and internationally.
Earlier on March 27, 2007, when some freedom fighters at a tea party demanded that the war criminals be prosecuted, Chief of Army Staff Gen Moeen U Ahmed said he would bring up the issue at meetings with the government high-ups.
It’s not a time to be lenient towards war criminals as the crimes like genocides and the movements against humanity that can make Bangladesh to be an orthodox Islamic republic, negating the concept of secular Bengali nationhood, which was the basis of the liberation war, are not good. #
Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York and first published on October 26, 2007. He could be reached at: Ripan.Biswas@yahoo.com