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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Action, reaction and proliferation: War crimes trial


Manirul Islam

Finally, war crime trial has started - a high risk must-finish project for the government. The hi-tech operation theatre after couple of commissioning glitch has optimistically started treating the cancer cells virulently entrenched in the bloodstream of the nation. Public minds are slowly emerging out of an epoch of disbelief and steadily crystallizing solid around the issue. The issue was doused in the bloodbath of 1975. Soon the alleged war criminals reincarnated in our national politics and walked over the 72 Constitution to the apex of power - un-repented and unforgiving. Even the history of treachery shies away to accept the tragic fact when a group of duplicitous freedom fighters in the Bangladesh Army under the leadership of the decorated liberation war sector commander General Zia toppled all legal and moral barriers and embraced these alleged assassins of 1971 as comrades in arms to impose an about turn in the course of our nation - a total revision of politics, history and even the identity of the nation. Pakistani model of politics based on fundamentalism and military rule was installed. But the curtain of that episode of treachery and tragedy has dropped - if not finally, at least for now. After crossing the perilous hurdles like BDR tragedy and the Hill Tract carnage, we the public could come out of the qualm to believe that the trial of the assassins of 1971 is a reality today.
The messianic leader of the 1971 Gulam Azam is still breathing in fresh air - to everyone's awe. If Jamaat leaders are indicted for war crime, Jamaat needs to be obliterated too from our political landscape for the same crime it has been nurturing and protecting under its wing till today. Individual, business and international intake channels of enormous wealth and logistics of Jamaat must be throttled now. Supreme court's recent landmark verdict of annulment of 5th amendment of the Constitution is a significant excipient to outlaw political manipulation of faith, but the challenge of driving it to reality is the work of the parliament.
The action plan is enormously daunting when the domestic enemy of this plan is a legion of extreme right faith merchants, ready-to-explode cosmic warriors and neo-nationalists. The enemy formation has been mostly same as that of Pakistan era political landscape, only security risk has multiplied exponentially due to the strategic connection of the local jihadi groups with global terrorist network.
In international arena, a seismic change has almost vaporized the camp of allies of our liberation war. Soviet Union, the great superpower and the great ally of freedom struggle of every nation on earth has had a meteoric crash and broke into insignificant fragments, their ideology is now fossil beyond redemption and national liberation struggles are now redefined as insurgency in the vocabulary of the new world order. India, then the torch bearer of global democracy, secularism, social equity and freedom has abandoned that path, welcomed rising Hindu fundamentalism, embraced market economy and since has been serenading and flirting with world's worst dictators and military statesmen for mere business interest. This compromise on founding principle of India apparently worked as collateral for her supersonic transformation into economic power house. To India, Bangladesh is now just another bazaar.
USA, the chief commander of anti-liberation war coalition has not made any significant departure from its pre-cold-war policy on Muslim-intensive countries like Bangladesh. Being constantly haunted by communist phobia, they still depend on lethal arsenals of the Islamic politics to rid the Muslim countries of spores of atheist ideology. Recent prospect of rekindling the spirit of 1971 has refreshed US nightmare of possible reincarnation of some sort of socialism in Bangladesh. As such romance between USA and Jamaat Bangladesh is blossoming again in new colour. Jamaat has been certified by the US Ambassador as a democratic political force in Bangladesh. Recently, when the trial of the perpetrators of alleged war crimes started, the US Embassy and the UK High Commission have demanded in unison totally sanitized handling of this trial and treatments of the war criminals; it must be thoroughly visible, must follow applicable international penal codes, must be partisan politics--proof, must refer to human rights manual A to Z in treating the war criminals. The cruel paradox in US policy is that the perpetrators of war and anti-human crimes always receive highest humanitarian and judicial protection, whereas, victims are treated as the collaterals of war. The encyclopaedia of US wars and expeditions from Vietnam to Afghanistan are the testament of worst form of war crimes and savagery committed, defended and covered up. Saudi Arabia, the most trusted supporter of US policy in the Muslim world, is against a secular Bangladesh. As the employer of the largest Bangalee expatriate community it is holding the golden key to sabotage this trial of their trusted cohorts.
Bangladesh Army, born in the field of 1971 war, by 1973 became overwhelmingly populated by the Bangalee soldiers repatriated from Pakistan, mostly without change of loyalty and by August 1975 it pathogenically transformed into a clone of Pakistan Army; same ideology, same ambition and same command control. In the early morning of August 15, 1975 our army could overrun, without any internal or external resistance, all the outposts of our nascent, famished democracy. The ornate architecture of our political history, with the triumphant facade of liberation war, was brutally raged to the ground amid epic tragedy. Now when this democratic and pro-liberation war government has undertaken the momentous task of house cleaning, success remains conditioned to the basic fact that how effectively our army has been hermetically isolated from the external influence or from their demonic love for power and opulence. Furthermore, how visible the government action will be in doling justice to the diabolic Generals who, in the past, spearheaded direct or indirect martial law using illegitimate and immoral policy; nocturnal lovers, poets and wealth scavengers turn perfect political exorcist in the day light.
By and large Bangalee intellectuals have been the lighthouse in our long political journey in the stormy ocean. It is hard to believe though, at the climax of the war they preferred to stay back totally defenceless and marooned in their own houses in the university campuses, as if they were on a suicidal fantasy. Some of our new generation intellectuals and talk show celebs have been rehearsing and honing their alarmist jargons to match their usual skepticism in measuring the social and political fallout of the war crime trial. This initiative of confusion has percolated the latest hype among handful blog-centric human rights utopians and dotcom Jamaati intellectuals based in the western capitals who often raise tempest in the tea cup in support of this celestial philosophy.
In political front, club of left aristocrats and hermits like CPB, BSD and other bonsai parties who were die-hard crusaders against war criminals now prefer abstinence from actively supporting any action plan of this bourgeois government on this issue. Their intellectual wing, green warriors for the protection of ecology and national natural wealth, has gone further organizing aggressive street protests and an abortive Hartal against this government's so-called sale-out plan of the country and her wealth. In reality they performed fore-work to create inertia for the anti-government movement of BNP led coalition, evidently the main opposition of war crime trial.
We have united, struggled, shredded barricades, shed blood, sacrificed kith and kin and walked the most arduous uphill route to the spectacular summit of victory - 1971. Then we callously failed to retain the gains and soon had the downhill plunge into abyss, fragmented and discordant. Now, we are united and again have started walking to reconnect ourselves with our history, our genesis. The trial of war criminals is the basic imperative to level the ground for the reconstruction of a strong cohesive and monolithic nation. Let us all remain steadfast and rally around the spirit of 1971 to make it a success.

(The writer is based in Toronto, Canada)

Source: Sunday, 22 August 2010 – The Daily Independent – Bangladesh

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