Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comments on Washington DC New Conference on Bangladesh

From the published reports in the Save Bangladesh, it is clear that Muslim human rights groups like the AMT and the CAIR have been exploited by organizers of this news conference to put pressure on the Mahajote government to rescind its decision and election promise to try the war crimes of the liberation war. The subject of war crimes remains a very divisive one in Bangladesh, which saw some 3 lakh, i.e., three hundred thousand (and not million; a mistranslation of Sk. Mujib’s Bangla word 'lakh' in English to 'million' got the currency later) people killed and thousands raped. It was a savage war bringing in sometimes the worst in humanity.

It is true that Bangabandhu out of his magnanimity had declared a general amnesty to those accused or convicted for minor crimes; and that they, under the Act, were all set free. But those accused of rape, murder, arson or plunder were not pardoned. In other words, the general amnesty kept the scope of prosecution and trial of those accused of such serious crimes under the Act.

As I understand, in restarting the trial of the war criminals, the current government wants to complete the unfinished task. I am against witch-hunt of any sort and/or making capital of the trial to clamp the opposition political parties. The trial process must be fair and just, without which it would only leave a deep scar in the politics of Bangladesh. That would be undesirable.

I also believe that all the political parties that profess democracy has as much right to politics in Bangladesh as the ruling party. Jamat and other parties that believe in the constitution of the country must not be denied that privilege. For good of democracy, the government must stop acts that are counter-productive to democratic norms and values.

Much has been made in the DC news conference about ‘crossfire’. As I noted earlier, I have failed to find a single state that does not practice this. How did Italy stop the Mafia underworld when the judges were either bought or killed by those killers and hitmen? Let’s face it: we have serious judicial loopholes that allow criminals to find a high-priced lawyer, buy the judge and go free. [As a victim of land-grabbing since 2005, thanks to Saqa Chowdhury and his criminal son FQC, we are witnesses to such a sad experience.]

As I noted earlier bulk of those killed in the so-called crossfire, according to the Adhikar report, were terrorists; and only a very small fraction of innocent bystanders were caught up in the middle during such cross fires between gangs or with the police or RAB. Nonetheless, the practice, in principle, is wrong and the only way it can be stopped is by removing the judicial loopholes, improving governance and accountability.

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