It was not an easy task for Bangladesh to start the long overdue trial for the crime committed during the independence war in 1971. From the beginning, there were many unexpected obstacles from the accused. They started an organized campaign against this trial; they started vandalism on the streets and hired many international professional lobbyists to tamper the spirit and fairness of the trials. They abducted a state witness, killed another one and who knows how many other poor general witnesses were threatened by them to make the trial even more difficult.
But despite all of these ill efforts from the war criminals, Bangladesh upheld the justice through an open court civil trial, not a military one and even sometimes giving more advantage to the accused rather than the state ( i.e. the appeal right to the accused but not the petitioner which Bangladesh government later changed on the demand from the people).
It is very natural that the accused will continue protests spreading that the trial is motivated by other issues, not for true justice for the war crime victims. But I believed the world media community would stand beside Bangladesh to help close this chapter of bloodshed and will encourage the efforts of Bangladesh, trying to serve the justice to the victims of genocide. It is shameful but unfortunately I do not always find the world media responsible and impartial. . When the international crimes tribunal ( ICT) serves a verdict to the war criminals, A few internationally reputed media outlets broadcast the news, tagging those convicted war criminals as ‘opposition political leaders’ or ‘ Islamist leaders’ which is nothing but the cruel twist to those genocide victims and their countrymen.
Recently I was watching the show ‘inside story’ on Al-Jazeera titled ‘What’s behind Bangladesh’s war crime trials?’ and once again I became frustrated to see their partially ill motivated ‘journalism’. This is a very interesting phenomenon for a few war crime supporters to say that Bangladesh is prosecuting the opposition party leaders in the name of war crime tribunals. Al Jazeera also echoed this fake demand.
The truth is, in Bangladeshi politics Jamat was never a significant force that the ruling party would try to eliminate ‘politically’. Historically Jamat could secure only 3% to 7% vote in any elections that happened in the last 60 years. As a weak supporter base this party is independently so insignificant that there is no need to form a war crime court to make them politically more vulnerable. If we take a quick look at the names of the individuals facing these trials, it is very clear that this tribunal is not running against any‘opposition leaders’ or ‘Islamist leaders’ but it is only the war criminals.
ICT declared their first verdict against Abul Kalam Azad, a religious TV anchor, but not involved in politics. Let’s talk about the recently demised convicted war criminal Golam Azam. Gulam Azam was one of the supreme commanders of the war criminals during 1971. Even after the war, he escaped from the country to avoid the trial and formed an organization called `purbo Pakistan punorudhhar committee’ (East Pakistan revocation committee). The Committee, led by Golam Azam tried to organize anarchy in the newly independent country “Bangladesh” to make it again into Pakistan’s colony. . He continued this evil act against Bangladesh until 1977, 6 years after Bangladesh had been born! But when he was arrested before the International Crimes tribunal in 2009, he was not in active politics for a long time. He retired at least 15 years back, so his arrest had no relation as a ‘political leader’.
The same happened to many other alleged persons like Abdul Alim, a former minister of Bangladesh Nationalist Party BNP and convicted war criminal. Alim was a minister at least 35 years ago and had no role in active politics since then. He is so far away from the politics; his party did not even bother to comment on his conviction. I can bring another example of Mr. Syed Kaysar, the head of notorious mass killing gang ‘ Kaysar Bahini’ of the war, had been arrested and under the trial on his 80s, and had not been an active politician for a decade. The ICT (international crimes tribunal) even formed charges against Mobarak Hossain, a local active leader of the ruling party Awami League, who took part in mass killing in his community during 1971. So it is clear that the trial going on in Bangladesh is focusing on the individual’s crimes regardless of their partisan political identity or whether they are active in politics or not.
Well, It is a historical fact that like the Nazis in the second world war, Jamat-i-Islami as an organized political party took an active role in antiliberation war activities and was mostly responsible for becoming the para-military ally of Pakistani Army, to conduct genocide, rape and other crimes against humanity. So when the ICT is forming charges, many of the Jamat-i-islami’s current and former leaders are being held responsible for those crimes. But introducing them as a “political leaders” or “religious leaders” rather than their “war criminal” identity are an ill initiative to hide their true criminalidentity. It is unfortunate that Al Jazeera is one of those media wings trying to twist the true fact.
Al Jazeera is so desperate to twist this issue; they dare to invent so called information anytime and this is not the first time for them. When millions of young people gathered in Shahbag square in the capital city Dhaka in 2013 supporting this trial and demanding the highest punishment for the war criminals, Al Jazeera reported the gathering just the contrary to this. They broadcasted news reporting that those young people were gathered in Shahbag in support of the war criminals!
But , when I heard their reporter saying ‘Historians estimate 3 hundred to 5 hundred thousands were killed’ during 1971 war on a recent show, I was absolutely shocked! Truly,Where did they find these historians? Later this reporter told a local Bangladeshi media BDNEWS24.COM that he found it in a blog! And it is no surprise that , that this blogger Mr. David Bergman is known as a propaganda activist for the accused war criminals in Bangladesh. I’m surprised that Al Jazeera couldn’t find any other historians but quoted from the blogs of a newspaper reporter who is already facing charges for contempt of court for his false remarks. I would suggest Al-Jazeera reporters read a few history books, i.e. the documented large volumes of ‘History of Freedom War’ or at least a few paper cuttings from 1972, before they start preaching for war criminals!
It is already a recognized historical fact that at least 3 million people were killed by the Pakistani army and their allies during 1971. Though like the other countries where war crimes took place, Bangladesh could not list every single one of the war victims who were killed; this generalized information of numbers was reported in many international media outlets after the war and was later officially announced by the Bangladesh government. If we review the first national census of Bangladesh after the war, it was also proven that nearly about 3 million people were missing. But Al Jazeera depended on a single blog written by a journalist turned Propoganda machine,( but never a historian) turned to reference their news on Bangladesh’s most sensitive history ignoring all other facts!
A Bangladeshi minister told the reporters last year that the government has proof that war criminals hired a US lobbyist firm using 25 million US dollars to disrupt the war crimes trials in Bangladesh! None of those accused parties challenged that information. Well, 25 million US dollars is quite a big sum of money for a planned propaganda and there’s no doubt that many parties will want to grab a share from it.
If we could find out about the distribution list of that 25 million US dollars, I’m pretty sure it will be an interesting discovery. And I honestly won’t be surprised anymore if we find Al-Jazeera on that list.