Why it is difficult to try war criminals after 36 years December 16, 2007Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, POLITICS.
Tags: Liberation war, trial of war criminal
Trial for war criminals is resounding from many corners. Different organizations, Sector commanders, Forums of freedom fighters, citizen groups and many individuals raised their voice for the trial. The new generation also expressing their anger and frustration at the same time over the matter.
Initially the Chief Election Commissioner and Chief Adviser of the Care Taker Government expressed their opinion in favour of trial of the war criminals. But the issue appeared to be more complex. The Law Adviser Barrister Moinul Hussain declared that the trial of war criminals is not the job of the present government. The next political government will take up the issue and settle it. He also added that it is not possible to settle all the issues by the CTG. Continuing he asked to search why the trial was not done for so many years and to judge those persons who were responsible for that omission .
The Chief Adviser also in a televised speech took a philosophical stand and said that he feels that the war criminals should be tried but it is a daunting task and only a political government could do this. The CEC on being asked to bar the war criminals from competing election said that it is the responsibility of the government to say who are war criminals and who are not; Election Commission has nothing to do with that.
Bangabnadhu Sk Mujibur Rahman has given general amnesty to the war criminals except those against whom there are evidence of killing, rape, torture etc. The declaration later accepted in the parliament through a bill in 1973 where many of the political stalwarts of today like Tofayel Ahmed, Surunjit Sengupta, Abdur Razzak, Zillur Rahman were present. People against whom direct evidence were present at that time- were tried and convicted.
The best time for the trial of war criminals was actually immediately after the war in the early years of our independence. There were laws, the sentiments and necessary evidences. One thing is not clear, after so many years, to the ordinary citizen, why Father of the Nation then opted for general amnesty for the war criminals. Is it because of the national reconciliation that is necessary for a new nation ? The answer would be best known to the policy makers and people close to him then.
Many argue that if the Nazis could be tried after so many years and war criminals are on trial in other countries why not in Bangladesh? But I personally don’t know that they were given general amnesty. So these people could only be tried if direct evidences could be found against them in relation to killing, rape, torture and like these.
Now, in judging the crimes, one cannot separate the events of the present from the past. After 1975 sad killing of Bangabandhu, new regime of Ziur Rahman rehabilitated religion based political parties to work again. .Ziaur Rahman was one of the sector commanders who lead the liberation was and visibly was the first man who announced the liberation war on the air.
The following years people saw the rampant corruption by the political leaders and compromise with the anti-liberation forces for their own political gain. Now when the voice is raised for trial of the war criminals, many political figures are also declaring their dissociation with the war criminals.
When a freedom fighter filed a case recently against few persons who made derogatory remarks about the liberation war and liberation forces, there was no legal support for him to proceed forward.
Sad to note that there is still no acceptable list of freedom fighters and the first list was done only in the year 1980, the second list in 1888-89, the 3rd list during AL regime, the fourth list in 2002 and now demand is raised for a fresh single list.
Sector commanders Forum urges for listing the collaborators-an attempt without evidences in support of the claim may provoke legal challenges.
Though the issue of trial of the war criminals is vibrant in the media and among different political groups, the common people are not touched by the issue. My rickshaw pullers, shopkeepers in my neighborhood or the MLSS in my offices do not discussed the issue, they are more concerned with their livelihood and the prices of the essentials.
The ordinary citizen sometimes feel confused whether the move for trail of war criminals is more political than an ideological one- inspired by the hypothesis which projected that the win of BNP in 2001 was a mere mathematical one. The hypothesis said that as a single political party AL has the highest percentage of votes, but BNP together with Jammat e Islami scored better than AL.
What is important for the nation is to be inspired by the spirit of the liberation war and to develop the country to a poverty-free, corruption free one.
An ordinary citizen
Post Script: 17 Dec 2007
Justice Habibur Rahman, ex Chief Adviser to the Caretaker Government said to an interview with ATN on 16 Dec, 2007 that this governmnet could try the war criminals if they want to. But for the trial of war criminals international pressure is also important which has gradually faded over the years. Now we can hold the trial if the government is determined enough to hold. But this government is already said that it is not possible for them to hold the trial and when a government say no, it is very difficult to make them say yes.
Prothom Alo published details of the interview on 17 Dec 2007 issue.
18 March 2008
Government initially didn’t give permission to hold convention for the trial of war criminals organized by the Forum for Sector Commanders on the 15th March 2008 in the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Center on the plea that it may create a law and order situation .
But later gave permission for the convention to be held on 21st March 2008 on some conditions.
With the landslide victory of Pro-liberation forces in the election of December 29, 2008, the possibility of trial of the anti-liberation war criminals becomes brighter than any other period after 1975.
The present Government has done lot of things in relation to the trial of war crimes. They have formed the tribunal, appoint the prosecutors and judges, revised the 1973 act, arrested some of the leading war criminals. The cases are progressing though the pace is slow.
But the major obstacle is coming from BNP that declares that the trial is not going fair and accusing government for politicising the trial.
Political consensus was important for effective trial of the war criminals.