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Monday, August 15, 2011
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War Crimes Trial

2 key witnesses lost

Ashfaque Munier Mishuk and Tareque Masud

The war crimes trial has lost two key witnesses in the deaths of Mishuk Munier and Tareque Masud.

The two were listed as witnesses. They were also compiling documents and audio-visual evidence for the investigation agency of the war crimes tribunal.

Mishuk Munier was the only one among his three siblings who saw his father, martyred intellectual Munier Chowdhury, being taken away by collaborators of the Pakistani occupation force on December 14, 1971.

Four decades later, Mishuk, now one of the pioneers of broadcast journalism in the country, had decided to narrate that harrowing experience to the International Crimes Tribunal, formed in March last year for trial of war criminals.

He and Tareque were deeply committed to unearthing the facts about genocide and other atrocities committed during the Liberation War, said those close to the duo.

But before their hard work could translate into conviction of war criminals, something they had longed to see in their lifetime, their lives were cut short by a road crash on Saturday.

A day after their death, The Daily Star learned about their being listed as witnesses in the trial.

“Tareque and Mishuk were not only listed as witnesses, they were advisers to our audio-visual team. We did not disclose it before as it's our policy not to publish names of witnesses and those working as researchers,” said an investigator of the tribunal, requesting not to be named.

Tareque was made a witness because of his extensive work on the war. He travelled across the country, gathering accounts of war crimes victims. Besides, he developed over the years a rich archive of audio-visual materials on the war, said investigation sources.

“The death of these two witnesses is a great loss,” said Haider Ali, a prosecutor of the tribunal.

“Tareque already gave us a lot of footage from his film Muktir Gaan. Hopefully, that will work as strong evidence against those charged with crimes against humanity,” said M Sanaul Huq, an ICT investigator.

“Tareque was supposed to give deposition about genocide and other war crimes, while Mishuk was to testify how his father was picked up by Razakars [collaborators],” said another investigator.

The investigators, however, would not say in which cases the two were made witnesses, citing confidentiality.

The international crimes tribunal started its proceedings on July 26 last year. Five leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and two leaders of BNP are awaiting trial on charges of war crimes.

Sensing defeat, the Pakistan army and their collaborators dragged away teachers, doctors, engineers and journalists from their houses in Dhaka and killed them just two days before the nation won independence after a nine-month bloody war.

The bodies of the martyred intellectuals were dumped at Rayerbazar, Mirpur and a few other places in the city.

Prof Munier Chowdhury was one of them.

Mishuk, then 12, saw from the first-floor balcony of their two-storey building on Central Road in the capital some collaborators taking away his father.

“After 1971, he [Mishuk] could recognise a local collaborator who was in the team that hauled my father out of the house,” said Asif Munier, younger brother of Mishuk.

At that time, Mishuk's elder brother Ahmed Munier Bhashan was on the battlefield.

Grown up, Mishuk collaborated in the making of a number of films based on Liberation War stories. He assisted Tareque to make Muktir Katha (Oral Testimony), a film based on interviews of the war victims.

He was also involved in the production of War Crimes File, another film on the Liberation War, directed by David Bergman in the 1990s.

The war of 1971 was the centrepiece of Tareque's work. His passion for the struggle for independence led him to make Muktir Gaan, a documentary on the cultural activists who travelled around the country to inspire people with their songs of the motherland.

After Muktir Gaan, Tareque, along with his wife Catherine, made two more documentaries--Muktir Katha and Narir Katha.

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I do not believe in any conspiracy theories but considering the long hands of many anti liberation forces, a sinister game might have been played. Would we ever be able to find out what really happened? Probably not. Loosing these two bright people at their prime age is too much to live with when their replacements would not be so easy to find in the near future.

: Surjo Sen

I regret that we have missed the opportunity to have an extraordinary film which was supposedly themed after the sequences of 1947 partition. Their death came a few days short of 14th and 15th of August. I ask myself is it an intentional kill? Where are the bus driver and bus helper now? Weren't there passengers in the bus? Didn't they try to stop the fleeing driver and his helper? Were the passengers paralysed enough to remain on their seats? Why did they let those culprits flee?

: SNH

Comments

  • Faqrul Usa
    Monday, August 15, 2011 01:32 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    Yes, this is what was my immediate reaction hearing the news from one my relatives in New Jersey who has regular and closed link with Tareque's family in village home.

    The way the trail is proceeding, I am afraid we might loose more creditable evidences if proper action is not taken to speed up the trail without listening to local and external noises against the trail and unrelated technicalities in the name of intentional standard of the trail. Why suddenly some international quarters are so eager for international standard? Should we assume that they do not like the trail to proceed? Are they international war criminals alleged to commit the crime in Bangladesh in 1971?

  • Emdadul Haque
    Monday, August 15, 2011 02:44 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    We are very sorry, we can't do anything for you. Please forgive us. We should pray for your silent life.

  • Kattja
    Monday, August 15, 2011 04:32 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    Are you sure it was an accident? Looks too convenient!

  • Dr Karim
    Monday, August 15, 2011 07:39 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    Both killings and disasters based on 1947 and 1971 was based wrong hypnotized religious philosophy based on fanaticism, without touch of history, political science, anthropology and sociology. So that philosophies has to be challenged and re-challenged on basis of knowledge and rationality rather than physical trial of killers .Full history not written yet neither any epic movies with broad canvass.

  • Mohammed Shah Alam Khan, Canada
    Monday, August 15, 2011 02:40 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    Yesterday when I read the death news of Munier, I had no word to say. In 1997 Munier came to me to express his will of migration to Canada. I was surprised and asked why a person like him wanted to leave the country. I opposed him and requested him to change his decision. When I was in Bangladesh we met each other. He was a very well-behaved and creative person. I liked him and unknowingly we became friends though he is junior to me. I will never forget him. I pray for his soul's peace.

  • ABM Mosleh Uddin
    Monday, August 15, 2011 10:03 AM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    I feel a deep loss at the deaths of these two renowned personalities. Government must take responsibility for this and the Communication Minister should resign without delay.

  • Silia
    Monday, August 15, 2011 02:26 PM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    When I heard the news that our two intellectuals are no more on road crash I was thinking whether it is accident or planned killings in the name of accident because everything can be happened in Bangladesh. So inquiry team should take into consideration diverse reasons.

  • Shamim Ferdaus Rajib
    Monday, August 15, 2011 04:37 PM GMT+06:00 (172 weeks ago)

    We lost two intellectuals. Is it accident or plot? I could not believe the accident

  • Jesmin Munira
    Monday, August 15, 2011 08:35 PM GMT+06:00 (171 weeks ago)

    This article reveals facts to believe this accident rather as a cold blooded murder. Only thing comes into mind now that country's leader is so passionate to solve the long pending crime of 36 years.

  • Ruhel Ahmed
    Monday, August 15, 2011 08:49 PM GMT+06:00 (171 weeks ago)

    Tareque and Mishuk are not with us anymore, We(freedom fighters) were happy to have them do the unfinished job. But now; do we have more guys like them? Tell us what to do, Remember we have surrendered our arms after the war but not our training or motivation.

  • Kishwar Khan
    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 08:01 AM GMT+06:00 (171 weeks ago)

    Mrs Zia's birthday celebrations at 67 seems ostentatious & unbecoming of her position as an ex PM.


 

 


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