Bangladesh: War Criminals and Denials

During the Liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 most of the people of the nation supported the fight for independence from Pakistan except for a few groups being the fifth column. Jamaat-e-Islami is the oldest religious party in Pakistan and its Bangladesh chapter collaborated with the Pakistan army to unsuccessfully prevent the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Besides providing information of the pro-independence forces to the Pakistani army Jamaat also created many militia organizations such as Razakar, Al badr, Al shams in order to capture and eventually kill freedom fighters of Bangladesh. A large section of the intellectual community of Bangladesh was murdered by Al Badr and Al Shams when they saw the defeat was coming. Jamaat was subsequently banned, then restored in 1978 as the progressive political parties in Bangladesh in power allowed them space and made them qualition partners eventually.

Recently Bangladeshis were outraged by the Jamaat-e-Islam’s leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid’s statement that “Jamaat did not work against the Liberation War in 1971 and there are no war criminals in the country” and former Islami Bank chairman and Jamaat-e-Islami think-tank Shah abdul Hannan's remark that the liberation war was only a “civil war”. Drishtipat Blog has summarized lots of denials, response, analysis, politics and fact files on this issue and a heated discussion took place in the comments section.

E-Bangladesh thinks this is an attempt to rewrite history and comments:

this contradicts with the Jamaat leaders statement during the liberation war in 1971, in which they sided with Pakistan and aided Pakistani army to kill and rape Bangladeshis which resulted in one of the worst genocides of the world.

demonsShadakalo did not try to hide emotions:

I want to see these snakes tried for war crimes before they die of natural causes.

Tacit questions the intentions of Jamaat and comments:

“With their announcement, Jamaat has in effect heralded politicking back into Bangladesh’s mainstream discourse.”

Lal Dorza reports that Jamaat leaders are vowing that no case has been brought [bn] against the alleged war criminals so why should people call them criminals. In 1974 a general amnesty was declared for some of the war criminals.

However Eskimo reminds [bn] that the amnesty was not a blanket one but limited to only those persons who did not have specific charges against them. The 3rd world view quotes Dr. Hasan, convenor of War Crimes Fact Finding Committee, a group investigating war crimes by Pakistani army and their local collaborators in 1971, who calls Muzahid's statement a blatant lie:

“We have strong evidence and documents against the people who were involved in war crimes during the Liberation War and what is needed now to bring the culprits to justice is an initiative.”

In 1994, a national people's inquiry commission conducted a trial on eight war criminals of Bangladesh (including Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid) and presented a report in 1995 which can be found here. The report concludes:

The Inquiry Commission after reviewing the offences of the accused and related laws came to a conclusion that these criminals can be tried under the International Crime (Tribunal) Act 1973. To make the sovereignty of Bangladesh safe and sound, to ensure peace, human rights and dignity these criminals (killers, collaborators and war criminals) must be brought to the justice. The commission strongly recommends trial of these offences.

However for unknown reasons the succeeding governments of Bangladesh failed to take any actions against them. Leading commentators also suggest that it is high time to take actions against the war criminals. Because of lack of solid evidence after 36 years it would be appropriate to implement other measures like establishing a truth commission to deal with these crimes.

Bloggers like Eskimo are demanding [bn] that Jamaat should not have the right to be active in politics in Bangladesh. They are pointing out that its main agenda is to form a religious state which is in contradiction to the current state of democracy, judicary, constitution and social structure of the country. Some bloggers even put together an website called “Ban Jamaat-e-Islami” to propagate their protests.

Mash posts some video footages and newspaper articles on the 1971 genocide of Bangladesh. ShadaKalo posts some images of the genocide the Pakistani army and their collaborators committed against the Bangladeshis in 1971 and reiterates the words:

I will not forget. I will not let you forget.


  • @crypticfate:

    Thanks for correcting me he is not a leader in Jamaat register but he is a Jamaat apologist and hold the same ideals of Jamaat. I am not twisting any fact but only echoing what was commented by a leading newspaper of Bangladesh.

    He REALLY said this:

    “Genocide is a matter of definition. Not everything is genocide. The United Nations has not called this genocide. We can call this genocide or whatever. Nizami could clarify his own quotes. But I know in the context of 1971, there was a civil war…and another war between India and Pakistan. Both Razakars and collaborators were killed as well as freedom fighters. It was a struggle between ethnic and political forces…Bangalees and Biharis were also fighting each other. So, it was not genocide. This is my personal opinion.”

    I guess who are soliciting Mr. Hannan should read this first.

  • he is not an apologist. now i realise that its tempting to jump on top of secondhand nazi labels and label people who arent swallowing with demonic slurs. but it reflects upon yourselves more than the people you label genocide deniers, who come from not to dissimilar historical experiences from you.

    Many people care for and participate in the islamic ‘scene’ in bangladesh. there is a diversity of viewpoints and they are always in flux. The problem with the AL cult way of thinking is that anyone who has an islamic character to their thought and collective works becomes a ‘zamati’. Its quaint, but innacurate.

    As a country we are blessed with shah abdul hannan, for you and all the others playing this issue to slur him in your blamestorm is predictable but wrong. He is good hearted enough to walk into the bear trap and hope to create understanding. You need people like that in bangladesh people who are stable and constructive and actually love people. Not the people who play emotional games and use the people.

    The biggest thing that i learnt from the interview was that shahriar kabir is a nonce and has an ideological axe to grind that muddies the waters, turning it into national ontology rather than the crime/court investigation that it should be.

  • Back up there just a minute, Fudgestar:

    Rezwan bhai has QUOTES AND A VIDEO to back up his claim that this man is denying our GENOCIDE because the UN hasn’t called it one! (Ironic that fudgestar and other Islamists who are normally so critical of the UN and Western values doesn’t jump on that)

    He is NOT saying the following: this man is Jamaat, ergo he is a war criminal. If there’s one person in the blogosphere who doesn’t do that or thinks that everyone participating in the Islamic “scene” is a war criminal or a criminal, it’s Rezwan bhai. He’s never done that on his own blog. He’s not doing it now.

    If Shah Hannan might be an asset to “the nation”, but then I have to ask what nation exactly you are referring to. Whatever other skills he might possess, he’s NOT a nationalist, he’s not a patriot and he’s not a Bangladeshi.

    Lastly, what exactly is this “islamic ‘scene'”? Jaantam shobai Mussalman amra, abar extra “scene” asey naki? Please educate us fudgestar shaheb.

  • Who is that Fugstar? Is he the son of any Razakar or Al-Bodor? It seems from his comments that he should have many experiencs of living with war criminal. He must have.

  • Rezwan: One thing that’s totally missing from the discussion, sadly, is Jamaat’s present engagement with the international “Jihad” movement. It’s high time we concentrate on this, in blogs and other forums.

    Jamaat, as an international “Islamist mafia,” remains an active proponent of Wahabi terror campaigns around the world financed by Saudi money through Rabita-e-Alam al-Islam [World Muslim League] and networked with groups like WAMY or RSO. Jamaat’s war against Bangladesh did not end, literally/practically speaking, in 1971. To date they continue: run jihadist training camps for ICS, RSO and WAMY all over the country, sponsor and engineer sectarian or communal riots/campaigns. Minimum examples.

    Zeeshan aka Fugstar: It’s really sad to see you changing so much as you change your nicks, talk “liberal Islam” in the morning, advocate for obscurantist mullahs in the evening. Tsk… tsk..

    Shah Abdul Hannan is not a Jamaati?! No one is asking for his JeI membership card my friend. Hannan, last time I checked, is on the board of Islami Bank Ltd, JeI’s prime business venture in Bangladesh. I agree with you: he is not a JeI apologist, he is a JeI think-tank.

  • My objection is to the statment that the accused said ‘the liberation war was only a civil war’, something which clearly is not in the spirit let alone the words that left the accused lips.

    From the video interview its clear to me he is not denying death and mayhem. Your secular takfir and judgement of his patriotism and bangladeshiness, is again your own responsibility as are your assumptions of what an islamist is.

    Islamic scene to me is participation in and commitment to the nurturing of islamic ritual, educational, character developmental, financial, intellectual and social facilities. As a scene/field/arena it shares all of the flaws of the general society, but its one which i accord essential value to.

  • Fugstar, you go around every blog you can find denying the Bangladesh genocide. However, the history disagrees with you. Scholars disagree with you. Eyewitnesses disagree with you. Newspaper accounts disagree with you. Historical documents disagree with you.

    So it does not surprise me that you don’t think Hannan is a genocide denier. Don’t embarrass yourself by trying to tarnish Rezwan’s reputation by suggesting he is “playing this issue”. He has a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest bloggers representing Bangladesh. History and the facts are clear and Rezwan’s post is on very firm footing.

    There have been genocide deniers before you, there will be genocide deniers after you. I use the label consciously and deliberately. Your tactics are not new and are no different than others who have gone before you. Keep on denying, fewer and fewer people will listen to your well-worn talking points.

  • lcarsnet

    What took place is 1971 is not a genocide or at least you will NOT find an Internationally recognized reliable source to support that idea. However, if you do find something, I would love to enlighten myself as a revisionist.

    By repeatedly calling it a genocide, you and others like you are spreading disinformation and diluting a historical event that is very important for our nation.

  • Sid

    It’s interesting how since the Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid statement, the genocide revisionists of Bangladesh are out in force. These ghouls seem to be have become even more brazen since the Jamaat developed a gloves-off attitude to it’s own history. This could be due to the threat of forcinig political parties renounce the use of politicised religion.

    The revisionists are demonstrating a masterclass in dissimulation. This would explain the desperate attempts to bring in the common-as-muck partisan line t

    It is true that by some commentaries and interpretation, one can claim that a civil war took place in 1971. But it would be a very imbalanced civil war that elides from the actual crime that took place – the systematic killing and rape of hundreds of thousands of men and women.

    You could use the same kind of obfuscation, if you were in the genocide denial business, and argue that the following conflicts were “civil wars” too:
    The Huutis and the Tutsis in Rwanda
    The Serbs and Bosnians in former Yugoslavia

    But you know that we know that they were clear examples of genocide, pure and simple. These are weasel words from morally bankrupt partisan hacks who, judging from their desperate attempts to cover up documented history, realise that they are up to their necks in their own bullshit.

  • Are you blind man? It says there that he said it wasn’t a genocide because the UN hasn’t accorded it that status. You’re right that is “not denying death and mayhem”.

    It is denying the scope and magnitude of the death and mayhem against Bengali CIVILIANS perpetrated in a SYSTEMATIC fashion by MEN IN UNIFORM backed up by the powers of a STATE. Those are the characteristics of a genocide.

    By contrast the actions of the Mukti Bahini against non-Bengali populations was sporadic, unsystematic, hit and run affairs. The Mukti Bahini was further a non-uniformed force, with nowhere near the firepower of the Pakistani Army. Whereas the Pakistani state backed by the American superpower was funding that Army, the Mukti Bahini was funded by scraps from its own resources, from donations from neighbours and from poaching off the enemy.

    What your hero Hannan Shah and you yourself on some other blogs have done is tried to create an equivalence between them by calling it a “civil war” and ONLY THAT. I don’t mind people calling it a “civil war”. Of course it was a civil war.

    BUT here’s where I differ with a full-blown apologist like yourself. It was an ASSYMMETRICAL war. And as such the two sides suffered assymmetrically. What the Mukti Bahini did was at best guerrilla operations, hit and run. What the Pakistani Army did was genocide.

    I’m tired of arguing with someone this blind. I’m sorry, other people will have to carry on from here.

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