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     Volume 6 Issue 45 | November 23, 2007 |

   Cover Story
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Losing sleep [with CHINTITO]

Dear colleagues,
If you are worried as I am with anything, please send your concern to chintitoforever@gmail.com
Every few weeks I hope to publish some of your letters so that others may share your joy and sorrow, delight and anger, pleasure and disapproval, wisdom and query.
Do write please. It helps to ease your stress, tension and anxiety; they all mean the same. And if you say you have none, I would be worried as hell.
Take care. Be good.
Love, Chintito

[The author is a former Bangladeshi senior civil servant and currently a professor of Economics in the USA. Name withheld, as the reader who mailed the article is not its author. We are carrying only relevant portions. We do not take responsibility of any factual error.]

War Criminals of 1971: Time to Take Action

It is highly misleading that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government pardoned all the war criminals. In fact, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's government started prosecuting the perpetrators of 'crime against humanity' or 'war criminals' immediately after independence and it also passed the Collaborators Act (1972) and the International Crime Act of 1973 that barred re-entry of any collaborators to Bangladesh.

Sheikh Mujib promulgated the Special Tribunal Order on January 24, 1972 (PO No 8 of 1972) after 14 days of his return from Pakistani jail to try those Pakistani collaborators, Razakars, Al-Badrs and other stooges of the Pakistani army. Under this order they arrested 37,000 collaborators. Out of them, 26,000 had no grievous criminal charges filed against them; therefore they were pardoned and released in a general amnesty. However, nearly 800 cases were completed and given jail sentences. Another 11,000 were in jail including Nizami and Abbas Ali Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islam Party (JI), and their prosecution was at various stages of completion. In addition, those who were involved in 'crime against humanity' and against Bangladesh, were denied Bangladesh nationality and passports.

On November 4, 1972 all religion-based politics were abolished as per sections 12 and 38 of the Bangladesh Constitution of 1972.

When General Ziaur Rahman emerged as a 'strong man' in 1975, he abrogated the Collaborators Act and released all the prisoners including those that were sentenced, and those under prosecution. He allowed religion-based parties to operate and started reinstating and rehabilitating them. Sheikh Mujib did not pardon those (Razakars, Al-Badr or Al-Shams) who had 'criminal cases' and those that committed 'crime against humanity or war criminals', such as rape, murder, and the like.

In1996, when the government of Sheikh Hasina came to power, it neither could reinstate the Collaborators Act nor could revive the original constitution of 1972. Secondly, it followed 'judicial process and rule of law' and therefore, it did not set up any 'kangaroo court or special tribunal' to prosecute the criminals. It failed to punish the war criminals and the culprits.

…Unless the criminals and murderers are fully prosecuted, you can neither establish 'rule of law' nor can stop political killing in Bangladesh.

Islami activist S. A. Hannan, a retired bureaucrat following the JI party line of argument tried to mislead the public by stating that there was 'no genocide' in Bangladesh in 1971.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. The legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of the CPPCG defines genocide as:

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Pak army systematically opened fire on unarmed masses of Bengali ethnic group on the midnight of March 25th, 1971. As per various reports 19,000 to 25,000 Bengali ethnic people died on that dark night alone. Over a period of 10 months, 3 million were reportedly killed, 30 million were dislodged from their homes and 10 million had to take refuge in neighbouring India due to cleansing operation, fear and repression. In global ranking, the 1971 Bangladesh genocide is second only to that of Nazi genocide of Jews.

In order to cripple the whole 'Bangalee nationalism and nationhood' the Pak army in collaboration with the Jamaat-e-Islam and few other such parties and their affiliates systematically and calculatedly murdered Bengali intellectuals, writers, doctors, journalists, educators and their political leadership. In addition, in order to cleanse the society of Hindu population, the Pak army and its collaborators calculatedly killed and/or uprooted them.

Those unable to recite the kolema [or males without circumcision] were killed. Such is a testimony of cleansing of a religious group, a clear evidence of genocide.

But Zia's gutting of the relevant laws missed one. The International Crime Act of 1973 of Bangladesh is still active and Article 47, Section 3 of the Act allows trial of war criminals.

It is time to take action.

POSTSCRIPT: Ex-Khmer Rouge head of state charged
Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal arrested the former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan (76) and charged him Monday (19 November 2007) with crimes against humanity and war crimes ahead of a long-delayed genocide trial almost 30 years after the group fell from power.


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