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.

119 comments

  • lcarsnet

    Ad hominem arguments – Need I say more?

    ——————————————
    sharika Wrote:

    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.

  • Sid

    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..

    Tasneem,

    I know Zeeshan, he is a personal friend. And he is certainly not fugstar. Fugstar would never be seen dead advocating for liberal Islam. He has often commented on my blog disagreeing with Hizbut Tahrir, but apologising for their supremacist ideology. Please retract your identifitcation of Zeesahn with the weasel huckster, fugtar.

  • Sid

    please post my first comment but edit the “bullshit” line out if you must.

  • Sid: Sorry for the confusion. I also know Z personally, through email correspondence. In fact, I was sad and awed when I got more than one confirmations on this Nick = Name connection. Since, you are sure about this, I am retracting, with apologies.

  • [Note to moderator: Not sure if an earlier comment was eaten by the spam filter, so reposting. You can delete this one if that’s not the case.]

    Sid: I myself was sad and shocked when I got more than one confirmation on this. Since you are sure about this, I am retracting, with apologies.

  • lcarsnet

    Where do you find this kind of information? There is no source, no basis, other than some uncultivated thoughts of a delusional mind. Do you even know Wahabi ideology or history?

    ——————————————
    Tasneem Khalil Wrote:

    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.

  • Fugstar, you go around to different blogs denying the Bangladesh genocide. So, it doesnt surprise me to see you here doing the same.

    Icarsnet at #17 said:
    “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.”

    Icarsnet, you are extremely ill informed. The Bangladesh Genocide is well recognized by international scholars as one of the major genocides of the 20th century.

    For starters, the authoratative scholarly tome on genocide, the “Encyclopedia of Genocide”, edited by Israel Charny, classifies the Bangladesh Genocide as genocide. Isreal Charny is perhaps the world’s foremost expert on genocide.

    “Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts”, another authoritative scholarly work, has a chapter on the Bangladesh Genocide.

    “The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies”, one of the most cited books on genocide, has a chapter on the Bangladesh Genocide.

    The three texts I have quoted above are required reading for anyone who seriously studies genocides. I hope now you are enlightened.

    Finally, so there is no doubt, let me quote from the chapter on the Bangladesh Genocide from the “Encyclopedia of Genocide”:

    Bangladesh’s emergence as a nation in 1971 came at the cost of three million people dead, a quarter of a million women and girls raped, ten million people fled to India, and thirty million people forced to flee their homes.

    On the evening of March 25, 1971, the military and political elite of West Pakistan with malice aforethought loosed the Army of Pakistan (manned and commanded by West Pakistanis) on the Bengali population of East Pakistan to emasculate the Awami League as a political opponent, to rid the province of East Pakistan of its Hindu population of 10 million persons, and to terrorize the civilian population into complete and permanent submission. This plan of intimidation, brutalization, and extermination of any Bengali who would not accept West Pakistani superiority continued until the West Pakistan military capitulated to the Indian Army on December 16, 1971.

    Bengali students, professors, and intellectuals were summarily executed. The West Pakistani Army was particularly intent on killing every single Hindu they could find.

    The Army of West Pakistan turned its fury on the women and girls left behind. Girls and women were publicly raped in front of their family members. They were routinely abducted to special camps near army barracks to be gang-raped, brutalized, and killed, or to live with the eternal shame of their violation. Many committed suicide.

    In December, when the Army of West Pakistan was finally forced to retreat back into its cantonements, they systematically set about killing all the influential intellectuals and professionals in each city and town where they were besieged. The genocidal campaign of the West Pakistani military elite against the Bengali population of East Pakistan stopped only when the Indian Army disarmed the Army of Pakistan.

    Genocide as government policy failed to prevent the birth of Bangladesh.

    The military authorities were able to recruit collaborators from Muslims who had emigrated to East Pakistan from other parts of India after Partition, and from among the East Pakistani political parties opposed to the Awami League, but to no avail in preventing the independence of Bangladesh.

    Better situated collaborators survived and by 1975 were openly participating in Bangladeshi public life. To this day, an elemental enmity between freedom fighters and collaborators continues to cause political and social turmoil.

  • Journey 2 Infintive

    Icarsnet,

    It seems you are quite fond of JI. I think regarding source and all Tasneem will do reply soon in right time in right place. But It is shame to see some people like you are claim that you are from Bangladesh

  • Pak major’s account reveals Jamaat role

    [Based on the book “Witness to Surrender”–a compelling first-hand narrative by the Pakistani Major Siddiq Salik]

    Accounts of the occupation force members too bear out how Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and its paramilitary wings styled Razakar, Al Badr, and Al Shams Bahini worked fervently against the country’s war of independence.

    For instance, Siddiq Salik, who was serving the Pakistan army as a major in Bangladesh in 1971, in his book ‘Witness to Surrender’ recounts the anti-liberation role of Jamaat, Muslim League and Nizam-i-Islam.

    He observed that Jamaat leaders collaborated with them [Pakistan army] not only to advance their ideals of Pakistan as an Islamic state, but also to wreak vengeance on people they were at enmity with.

    Referring to the drives against Bangalee freedom fighters, he wrote, “These operations were only a partial success because the West Pakistani troops neither knew the faces of the suspects nor could they read the lane numbers (in Bengali). They had to depend on the cooperation of the local people. The Bengalis, by and large, still cherished the hope of Mujib’s return and assumed an attitude of passive indifference.”

    He continued, “The only people who came forward were ‘the rightists like Khwaza Khairuddin of the Council Muslim League, Fazlul Qader Chaudhry of the Convention Muslim League, Khan Sobur A Khan of the Qayyum Muslim League, Professor Ghulam Azam of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulvi Farid Ahmed of the Nizam-i-Islam Party.”

    Describing his experience working with the Bangladeshi collaborators, the book reads, “They had all been defeated by the Awami League in the 1970 elections and carried little appeal for the Bengalis. The people generally felt that they were outdated coins being given currency by the Army once again.

    “But the Army, out of sheer necessity, valued their presence and followed their advice. I suggested in one of the meetings that instead of propagating the statements of this ‘outdated coins,’ it would be better to seek the cooperation of teachers, lawyers, artists and intellectuals who command respect in their respective fields.”

    Salik began his career as a lecturer after graduating in English literature and international affairs from Punjab University. He had been in journalism before joining the army as a public relations officer.

    He came to Bangladesh in January 1970 on a tour of duty that ended with the defeat of Pakistan on December 16, 1971. He was taken as a prisoner of war (POW) in India and was released after two years. He was in the army until his death in 1988.

    Published by University Press Limited, Salik’s book is the detailed professional account of the war. It deals mainly with his days during the war and as a POW in India.

    Talking about how some members of the Pakistan army conducted themselves during the war, he said, “During these operations, some troops, to the shame of all, indulged in looting, killing and rape. Nine cases of rape were officially reported and the culprits were severely punished, but the damage had been done. How many cases there were in all, I do not know….

    “The stories of these atrocities naturally alienated the Bengali population. They were not very fond of us before, but now they hated us bitterly. No serious effort was made to arrest this trend or diminish the hatred. Hence there was no question of mass co-operation by the Bengalis. Only those people joined hands with us who, in the name of Islam and Pakistan, were prepared to risk everything.”

    On the collaboration groups, Salik said, “These patriotic elements were organised into two groups. The elderly and prominent among them formed Peace Committees, while the young and able-bodied were recruited as Razakars (volunteers). The committees were formed in Dacca as well as in the rural areas and they served as a useful link between the Army and the local people.

    “Razakars were raised to augment the strength of the West Pakistani troops and to give a sense of participation to the local population. Their manpower rose to nearly 50,000 as against a target of 100,000.”

    The chapter named ‘Insurgency’ reads, “In September a political delegation from west Pakistan complained to General Niazi that he had raised an Army of Jamaat-e-Islami nominees. The general called me to office and said, ‘From now on, you will call the Razakars, Al-Badr and Al Shams to give the impression that they do not belong to one single party.”

    Referring to the ‘dedication’ displayed by the collaborators, it adds, “The Al Badr and Al Shams groups were a dedicated lot, keen to help the army. They worked hard and suffered hard. About 5,000 of them or their dependent suffered at the hands of the Mukti Bahini for the crime of co-operation. Some of them displayed a sense of sacrifice comparable to the best troops in the world.”

    In the chapter titled ‘An Opportunity Lost’, Salik wrote, “Some of them were genuinely interested in the integrity of Pakistan and they risked their own lives to cooperate with the Army, but a few of them also used their links with the Army to settle old score with pro-AL people.”

    He continued, “For instance, a rightist politician arrived one day in Martial law headquarters with a teen aged boy. He met me by chance on the Veranda and whispered in confidence that he had some vital information to impart about the rebels.

    “I took him to the appropriate authority where he said that the boy, a nephew of his, had managed to escape from a rebels’ concentration in Keraniganj across the Burhi Ganga river. The boy added that the rebels not only harassed the locals but also planned to attack Dacca city at night.

    “A ‘cleaning operation was’ immediately ordered. The commander of troops was briefed. The field guns, mortars and recoilless rifles were readied to ’soften’ the target in a pre-dawn bombardment. The troops were to make a pincer move to capture it at day-break.

    “I watched the progress of the action in the operations room where the gunfire was clearly audible. Soon some automatic weapons also joined the battle. Many people feared that the attacking battalion might not be able to bag all the 5,000 rebels reported in the locality. The operation was over after sunrise. It was confirmed that the target had been neutralised without any casualties to our troops.”

    To stress the point once again that the Bangladeshi collaborators had purposes other than pursuing the ideology of an Islamic state, Salik recollects, “In the evening I met the officer who carried out the attack. What he said was enough to chill my blood. He confided. ‘There were no rebels, and no weapons. Only poor country-folk, mostly women and old men got roasted in the barrage of fire. It is a pity that the operation was launched without proper intelligence. I will carry this burden on my conscience for the rest of my life’.”

    URL: http://www.bangladeshnews.com.bd/2007/10/28/pak-majors-account-reveals-jamaat-role/

  • Sid

    one of my previous posts has been eaten by the spam filter! Can it be retrieved please?

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