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Sunday, June 22, 2008
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Here lies evidence to prove war crimes

Evidence lying buried in the Mirpur Jalladkhana water tank is enough to prove the crimes of war criminals.

“This evidence will help enormously when the trial process begins," Akku Chowdhury, trustee of the Liberation War Museum, told The Daily Star yesterday as the museum marked the first anniversary of the opening of the Jalladkhana Killing Field Memorial Park.

Visitors, who thronged the memorial park in Mirpur yesterday to mark the anniversary, kept asking themselves why the war criminals are yet to be brought to trial when such essential evidence of their crimes lies at hand.

"This is very emotional for me, to come to the place where my father has been lying for the past 36 years," said Abul Ahsan, son of martyr Khandkar Abu Taleb, whose mutilated body was thrown into the underground water tank of the pump house at the Jalladkhana.

Abul does not know exactly how his father was killed, but evidence retrieved over the years now make it easy to imagine how brutally that must have been.

The pump house was named Jalladkhana, meaning “Butcher's Den” after thousands of Bangladeshis were brutally tortured, killed and then dumped inside the tank in the pump house by the barbarous Pak army.

Sometimes the bodies of tortured men were dumped into the tank, before they died.

Members of the martyrs' family, cultural activists, and different organisations paid their respects at the killing field in city's Mirpur yesterday with renewed calls on the government for immediate steps to bring all war criminals to trial.

“It is a shame, how nothing is being done, with so much evidence lying around us of the criminals' brutality,” said a visitor to the park.

Akku Chowdhury, himself a veteran freedom fighter, said the excavation of the killing field and its preservation will inspire the people to continue their demand for the criminals' trial.

The day was marked in solemn respect, beginning with the hoisting of the national flag. Chayanot, Charulota, Ghasful Child Organisation, among others, performed patriotic songs and recitations at the anniversary programme.

Families of the martyrs paid their personal respects in silence.

About 88,000 visitors from across the country has visited the memorial park since its establishment last year.

The once abandoned pump house at Mirpur in the city became a memorial site after the Liberation War Museum excavated and renovated the site.

The museum in cooperation with the Bangladesh Army exhumed the mass grave and recovered 70 human skulls and 5392 bones from there. The Museum gave identities to the martyrs after exhuming the skulls and bones and using personal artefacts found during the excavation.

The walkway surrounding the compound of the park is flanked by marble slabs engraved with the names of over 400 killing fields found across the country.

There are six glass pots placed on six altars across the compound, containing soil from six such killing fields from six divisions of the country.

At the centre of this compound is the mural by Rafiqunnabi, titled 'Jiban Abinashshar' (life is immortal).

The pump house stands at one end of the compound. There is a bell hanging over the entrance of the house known as the torture chamber. Inside this house, steps lead down to the 20 feet deep-water tank, now covered with a glass top.

The engraving on the glass reads, "We bow our heads in deep respect to all martyrs.”

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