Friday, February 19, 2010

Comments on Dr. Hasan Zillur Rahim's "The Noblest Revenge"


A few minutes ago, my attention was drawn to the above link which contained an article by Dr. Hasan Z. Rahim. It is an excellent article that reminds us all that forgiveness is better than mere revenge. However, as he also noted only a strong person can exercise such forgiveness when wronged, as our prophet Muhammad (S) was able to do against his former foes after the conquest of Makkah. I have another side of this debate which I like to share below.

Some revenge is justifiable in the sense that it helps to arrest the tide of injustice when there is a propensity of that happening. We should not forget that only a victim can forgive, and not a judge, and that is my understanding from the Qur'an. I am not aware of any family member of the victims of 1975 (Bangabandhu Murder case) who has forgiven those killers.

In my opinion, what happened in August 15, 1975 was the most brutal and savage form of atrocity that the Bangladeshis have ever seen. If those assassins/killers had problem with Sk. Mujib, they simply could have dealt with him. But what they did is simply unacceptable. They killed everyone that they could press their triggers into. What made those ruthless killers kill Sultana, Parveen, Russel and many others who simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time? What was the crime of nine-year old Russel who begged his killers to spare his life? What's the justification to kill pregnant women? Those killers were unrepentant of their horrendous crime and even boasted of their crimes years before they were tried in the second half of the 1990s.

Nor should we forget that at the state level, things are often treated differently than at the individual level. The example of Mandela is an inappropriate one that Dr. Rahim cited, since Mandela was not killed. A better example is the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa which tried to heal the wounds of former victims by bringing the two sides of the Apartheid issue to reconcile. Mind that the apartheid rule allowed hunting down anyone deemed a threat to the state. That is, according to state law and constitution, those white racist officers were just practicing their constitutional rights, no matter how morally wrong they were. And what the South African majority Blacks and colored people did to protest was morally sound, but constitutionally wrong. It is more like our 1971 War of Liberation in which Pakistan Army had every right per constitution to preserve the unity of Pakistan, and we, the Bangladeshis, had the moral right to fight them for our rights.

I am, therefore, against trying every soldier of Pakistan who was stationed in the then East Pakistan, unless he committed war crimes. Nor do I support trying Jamat-e Islami for its opposition to the creation of Bangladesh. However, if any individual, civilian or otherwise, had committed war crimes then, IMHO, Bangladesh has the moral obligations to try them for such. As such, I am personally for trying criminals like Saqa who personally killed an unarmed person in early days of Pakistani military crackdown in Chittagong. And anyone who had raped or killed any individual, including Bangladeshis against the Biharis, should be tried for their crimes, unless the victims forgive their tormentors. Justice has to be fair and equitable, and not partial. If we are partial and ignore the plight of the opposing side, we do the greatest crime to our moral standing.

When Ali (R) was stabbed by the kharajite assassin, he told his son Hassan (RA) that if he survived the wound he would deal with the assailant and may even forgive him, however, if he died from the blow, then he should be dealt equally per the dictates of the Qur'an, which was life for life. And when Ali (RA) did not survive from ibn Muljim's poisonous sword blows, the latter was killed. No forgiveness was shown to him.

Therefore, what has happened with the five executed killers recently for their atrocious crimes of 1975, I think it was a delayed justice but a desirable one for the victims and for the entire nation. This I say, because when such crimes are tolerated at the highest level and even rewarded, it is the greatest injustice done not only to the very victims of their crimes but also all those who were affected by the murder. It is worth recalling that under the BNP administration that followed none of the murderers of Zia was spared soon after his killing (although the process was a highly faulty one which smelled of conspiracy to hide the real culprits, if any). Worse yet, even some innocent people were killed who had nothing to tie them with Zia-murder. They were summarily executed per verdict in a non-transparent military court. My own cadet college adjutant (in the post-liberation period) Capt. Rashid (I don't recall his rank when he was killed) was one such unfortunate victim. So, by avoiding execution or even trial of the Mujib murderers (under the pretext of the Indemnity Clause in the constitution) what the BNP government did was wrong and unacceptable under any count. It was sure opportunism since they were ultimate beneficiaries of the murder. I may add here that the Bangabandhu murder case was openly tried in a civil court, and it was as transparent as it could have been, something that even Barrister Mowdud of the opposition BNP confirmed.

Dr. Rahim mentions about Lincoln's historic speech, but forgets to note that he was gunned down by an actor who considered him a traitor. The killer's life was not spared though after the assassination of Lincoln either. (Read my article on Political Assassination - posted yesterday.)

Having said that I must say that revenge for the sake of revenge leaves a deep wound and is undesirable and should be avoided, if possible. However, when it is done as part of righting a wrong, it has a positive effect on the society, and helps curb similar crimes of the future from happening. That is my understanding in the light of Qur'an and Sunnah. (Interested readers may like to view two of my articles posted in my blog on this subject of political assassination to see my side of the explanation on a very controversial subject of our time.)

What I blame the Mahajote government for is that after coming to power, it seems that it is suffering from selective amnesia forgetting the promises it made to the people, and lost focus with its priorities. People did not put them into power for the execution of those killers of Bangabandhu, but to fix the country, away from almost never-ending vicious cycle of lawlessness, crime and corruption, to lower prices of essential commodities and to bring safety and security, let alone prosperity to our people. The trial and execution should be a natural appendix to their other activities and not the prime duty or the achievement.

Unfortunately what we see is rather very disheartening. Look at the crimes of the hoodlums of Chatra League! They give a bad name to education or being a student. What has the government done to stop such professional students who are actually extortionists, hoodlums, mastans and tender-grabbers? Nothing. The law and order situation is worsening; the traffic condition is so bad that I don't see any quick solution in the horizon to make things better.

On a personal level, my family is tormented by the same land-grabbing syndicate that troubled us during the BNP rule. It seems now they found some AL patrons to grab our family properties in Chittagong. Where is relief for innocent victims? Nowhere! What is happening to Bangladesh is really disgusting and totally unacceptable.

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