Recently, the debate around the trial of suspected war criminals of Bangladesh's liberation war period has become quite hot with arguments for and against about the fairness of the court and justice system in Bangladesh to try such sensitive cases. Afshan Chowdhury's piece on this issue has appeared in the bdnews24.com.
Some of the remarks of Mr. Chowdhury are unfortunate.
He says, quoting others, Bangladesh is not capable of conducting war crimes trial. Fine, which country is? Did the accused get their fair share in Guantanamo Bay or NY trials of Dr. Aafia Siddique? Truly, I am not aware of any group outside the ICJ in the Hague that can try such cases neutrally. And yet, as we all know, even the USA govt. does not trust it, and thus, has not approved its legality.
It is true that BD’s legal system is a flawed one. And as a member of a victimized family that had fought land-grabbing schemes of Saqa Chowdhury and his gang in Chittagong, we know how flawed it is to incriminate land-grabbing cartels or syndicates! But what is the solution? Should we stop seeking justice when we are victimized by those criminals that demolished ten homes in our family premises, uprooted 16 tenant families, and harassed my family members in Khushi in 2005 during the BNP rule?
In spite of lot of good jobs done by the HRW in the human rights sector, I am sorry to say that its opposition to the trial of suspected war criminals of 1971 is simply not right. More hypocritical is the attitude of the USA government. It is like kettle calling the pot black! I would like to know why OBL was not tried and instead killed as an assassination target? What is HRW doing about hundreds of innocent prisoners rotting in the USA-controlled prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq? Are the drone attacks justifiable and legally right while trial of suspected war criminals in BD wrong? What is the agenda of HRW and many such NGOs that seem more interested about disintegration of Bangladesh along ethnic or tribal lines?
Let’s face it. We live in an imperfect world with faulty justice system everywhere. The advocates challenging the legality of the war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh can do us all a favor by showing real examples where justice is color-religion blind and not unfair on sensitive matters like the war crimes, terrorism, etc. Whom are they trying to protect – a murderer and pathological liar like Saqa?