Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal Under Spotlight

Source: Global voices.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) is an ongoing tribunal in Bangladesh that was set up to investigate and provide justice regarding the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. It is claimed that up to three million people were killed and between 200,000 and 400,000 women were raped by Pakistani Army and local collaborators in one of the worst genocides in the history of mankind.

According to a tri-patriate agreement between Bangladesh-Pakistan-India in 1974, 195 Pakistani prisoners of war were handed over to Pakistan from Bangladesh pending trial and Pakistan never prosecuted them. An War Crimes Fact Finding Committee revealed that the local collaborators of the Pakistani army were involved in at least 53 types of crimes. Among the local collaborators were a large number of members of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the largest Islamic parties of the subcontinent, who opposed Bangladesh and sided with Pakistan during the war. In an effort towards national reconciliation the Government announced amnesty (pdf) to those who had been convicted or accused of offences under the Collaborators Order (1972), except those accused of murder, rape or arson. Later all prosecutions were stopped and all the accused were released leaving a scar on the society who believe that justice was not done.

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12 replies

  1. In any war there are two sides. The victor and the vanquished. If truth is any judge, the history is always written by the victor, in this case India and Bangla Desh.
    One must remember that the present Bangladesh government is headed by the Husina Sheikh, daughter of Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and thus the claims that up to three million people were killed and between 200,000 and 400,000 women were raped by Pakistani Army and local collaborators in one of the worst genocides in the history of mankind are not only extremely magnified but has a political connotation to it.
    No one should deny that atrocities happened but these were on both sides. Not all Bengalis were anti-Pakistan and thus did not agree with Mujeeb’s one sided effort to start a mutiny against the state and secede.
    Pakistan army was not there to rape and kill innocent Bengalis but was fighting not only Mukti Bahini but regular Indian troops who were disguised as Bengalis. India has always wanted to destroy Pakistan’s unity and Mujeeb helped to achieve this goal. Pakistani leaders of that time including Z.A.Bhutto also must be blamed for their arrogance and stupidity.
    One should not forget that rape and other atrocities were also carried out by the rebel militia raised by the independence movement and India. They targeted the Bihari ethnic group as well as those they thought gave aid to the Pakistani forces.
    Jamat-e-Islami of East Pakistan of that time is therefore now being targeted because they were against the mutiny, not on religious ground but on socio-political reasons.
    Interestingly, there has never been more than 30-40 thousands Pakistani army soldiers in East Pakistan and to say that they raped nearly half a million women is totally over the top. Facts should not be based on claims and counter claims.
    A tribunal of the truth is very important but it should have International judges who should be interesting in fact finding and not to score cheap points against Pakistan

  2. The total number of victims in any war can definitely be of dispute. What is not – is that history has recorded Government sponsored massacre and atrocities committed against people of Bangladesh by President Yahya. Crime was committed by both Pakistan army, its leadership and the Jamaat-e-Islami collaborators. There is absolutely no question about it. The dispute can be -on how many counts. At the end of the day, rapes, murder and mayhem did take place.

    This is a sore wound that Pakistan as a nation needs to mend. What is interesting to note that – a lot of the rape and murder victims were Hindus towards the last three months of war in 1971. There are a lot of claims that there were indiscriminant ethnical purge of Hindu Bangalees for suspicion of being undercover Indians by Pakistan Army during their desperate hours. Pakistan army did stop people on road blocks and required men to drop their pants to inspect their genitals. The Jamaat e islami supporters were collaborating with the Pakistan regiment to carry out round-up raids and often themselves were involved with rape and murder.

    Even if 50% of truth is brought to the court after 40+ years, it is worth the try. People of Bangladesh and Pakistan needs to close this chapter.

    India had never had any intention to expand into Pakistan territory by assisting the Mukti Bahini. Please refer to the pleading letters by Mrs Ghandi to president Nixon on this situation. Neither was Bangladesh annexed into West Bengal.

    Let’s not marginalize the events actually took place. It is a shameful past for one nation that needs to redeem itself, and a painful memory of another that needs to forgive, heal and move on.

  3. From an impartial perspective, similar to Bosnia War, the perpetrators of the 1971 war from both countries should be tried in an International Court primarily to present the fact to the whole world about this unrecognized genocide and then the criminals should be sentenced like any other war criminals. Unless this page of history is turned, politicians on both sides will use these partially verified facts as a tool to promote their own political agenda.

    On a similar note, common sense demand a country that commits such monstrous atrocities against another country should think twice before hypocritically claiming herself to be an Islamic Republic. Please keep Islam out of it because monsters don’t have any religion.

  4. Bashy Quraishy’s idea of human rights is very confusing. On one hand he talks about human rights for Pakistanis who live in Europe and on the other side he ignores human right abuse by Pakistan on others. Precisely when it suits needs of Pakistanis human rights, Islamic unity etc. and when it does not then highway.

  5. Mr. Haq
    I do not ignore human rights violations any where. All I ask as does Mirza Ghulam Rabbi that there should be an impartial court, proper procedure and both sides should be brought to justice.

    It is not Pakistan or the Bangal Desh nation, which has committed atrocities against each other in 1971. It is some people, soldiers and political leaders who has been involved. To blame only the State of Pakistan is not only futile but also demonization of entire people.

    In Bosnia, both Serbians, Croatians and Bosnian personalities are brought to trial and not their countries.
    History teaches us that atrocities happen in a context and everyone commits them. Remember the massacres of Gujarat against innocnet Muslims, 60000 Kashmiris killed by Indian troops and 3000 Sikhs slaughtered by Hindu mobs. Should not India be brought to justice, M. Haq or may be for you Muslim blood is cheaper than others?

  6. Mr Quraishy. please leave condition of India’s Muslims to Indians. You take care of Baluchistan, Sindh and Saraiki folks. Good luck.

  7. When the people of a nation stay quiet for 40 years and does not question their past leadership, nor wonder why the Government sponsored history books published for schools tell a different story of 1971 than the rest of the world, one can only assume that nationalistic feelings have made them complacent and ignore the truth. If the Nation of Pakistan was sincere about bringing justice, a similar fact finding and war crime against humanity trial could have been organized by Pakistan itself with an international court, in the past 40 years. That opportunity for Pakistan is gone.

    Blaming a few leaders for their past crime and distancing that from a nation’s pride is OK. However, what is not OK is when injustice against its brothers is brushed under the rug in a hope that the it will just go away. Let’s not fall victim to the Ahmadenijad holocaust-didn’t-happen syndrome.

    The people of Pakistan and Civil Society needs to wake up. Because, this is exactly why, the minorities, the Christians, The Shia and the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan are systematically being purged, while the general population sits by with indifference. After a while, there won’t be anyone left to care.

  8. Dear Sazzad
    To compare the Holocaust of Jewish and Roma as well as of other minorities in Nazi Germany with some atrocities committed by extremist groups against minorities is not only stupid but shows a total lack of historical perspective.
    You and others in MT keep forgetting that atrocities are being denounced regularly in Pakistan and neither the nation nor the government is involved in it. Unfortunately, ordinary people do not have channels to vent their anger. Go and talk to the man in the street in Pakistan as I did and you would be pleasantly surprised to know that majority of Pakistanis – as much as 95% -denounce and take a distance to minority bashing.
    But if you and MT keep on picking the sad events and forgetting the regular peaceful lives of millions, then you are no better than those, you accuse of.
    I understand that victims of any oppression always think that they are the only ones who suffer but please remember that ordinary Pakistanis are also suffering. You need to be balanced and impartial in your harsh judgments of 200 million Pakistanis.
    On top of this one sided demonization of Pakistan, you never talk of the real reasons for the extremism in Pakistan and how out side forces are instigating and paying these brain dead extremists to commit crimes against humanity.

  9. Dear Haq, I only answered your comment about my work with human rights, otherwise, you and India is not so important for my human rights work to engage in ping pong with you.
    But you have to know if you do not already know thyat atrocities against Indian minorities and against Muslims is every peaceful person’s concern. You do not own Ondia or anyother country. So please come to the table with intelligent arguments instead of ignorant remarks about my work.

  10. It’s a wasteage of time to expect that Pakistanis will ever acknowledge their mistakes, forget apologies.

    • Dear Mr.Haq, it is foolish of anyone to demand that the whole nation of Pakistanis should apologize. They did not sanction or commit any atrocities against any country.
      Yes, some did as is the case with Indian army who has murdered 60000 innocent Kashmiris. Let us start there

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