A trial for the future of Bangladesh

Source: The Hindu

Op-Ed by Haroon Habib

December is a landmark month for Bangladesh. It is the month of the liberation of the country from Pakistan in 1971. And it is also a reminder of a great national tragedy — it was during the same month that year that the marauding Pakistani army and their local agents systematically eliminated hundreds of secular intellectuals just before the liberation on December 16, 1971. It capped a nine-month orgy of violence against civilians in which three million people were killed, 400,000 women were raped and 10 million people fled for bordering Indian States as refugees.

This year, as the country celebrates four decades of its independence, it also faces the task of completing a historic trial against the perpetrators of those horrific crimes.

The trial was long overdue. The events following the bloody coup in 1975 in which Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was assassinated, and the divisive politics thereafter, caused many delays in reckoning with the cruelties. When Sheikh Hasina came to power, this was on her agenda. The move towards justice began on March 25, 2010, under a domestic law framed in 1971. But the path is yet not easy.

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