Bangladesh Genocide, Local Collaborators and War Crimes Trial

December 16, 2012 11:22 pm 1,037 comments __
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By Khaledur Rahman Shakil

 

 

What is the definition of birth?  Birth of Bangladesh; is not easy to explain. Bangladesh achieved her brutal birth after nine months struggle which was ensued an estimated three million Bengalis died and ten million refuges fled to India. A code name of Genocide “Operation Searchlight” under Pakistani military with ruthless massacre, senseless and wanton loots, arson, rapes and molestation of Bengalese women, forced pregnancy of Hindu women and deliberate killing of Hindu males to exterminate Bengalese Hindus as a race, babies were bayoneted and preplanned killings of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers, civil servants, students and social workers and burying them in mass graves. The 2nd biggest holocaust in modern human history took place in Bangladesh. Pakistani soldiers aided by local collaborators. The key maker of 1971’s Genocide was the top collaborator and the battle of Rajakar, Al-Badar and Al-Sams members. The matter has been stirring the minds and emotions of many Bengaleses since 1971. Forty one years back; what happened in there between East and West Pakistan? Let’s go back to the history. Bangladesh—with help from India—won independence from Pakistan in 1971. Jamaat-e-Islami openly campaigned against breaking away from Pakistan during the war, and several party leaders now stand accused of collaborating with the Pakistani army in committing atrocities.

The War Inquiry Commission was appointed by the President of Pakistan in December 1971. In its secret report, never made public in Pakistan the commission, headed by then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Hamoodur Rahman, held widespread atrocities, other abuses of power by Pakistani generals and a complete failure in civilian and martial-law leadership responsible for the loss of East Pakistan. The report dwells on a range of sins: killing of thousands of Bangladeshis—both civilians and “Bengali” soldiers—rape, pan smuggling, looting of banks in East Pakistan, drunkenness by officers, even an instance of a Brigadier “entertaining” women while his troops were being shelled by Indian troops. It recommended a string of court-martials and trials against top officers. Nothing ever happened. The army’s role in splintering Pakistan after its greatest military debacle was largely ignored by successive Pakistani governments. The Commission examined nearly 300 witnesses and hundreds of classified army signals between East and West Pakistan. The final report was submitted on October 23, 1974, detailing political, administrative, military and moral failings of then Pakistan.  Let us refer to some of this old evidence available and established before the Commission as admitted by those army officers themselves. According to the allegations generally made, the excesses committed by the Pakistani Army and their cohorts as summarized by the commission fall into the following categories: – a) Excessive use of force and fire power in Dacca during the night of the 25th and 26th of March 1971 when the military operation was launched. b)  Senseless and wanton arson and killings in the countryside during the course of the “sweeping operations” following the military action. c) Killing of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers, etc., and burying them in mass graves not only during early phases of the military action but also during the critical days of the war in December 1971. d)  Killing of Bengali Officers and men of the units of the East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles and the East Pakistan Police Force in the process of disarming them, or on pretence of quelling their rebellion. e)Killing of East Pakistani civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists, or their mysterious disappearance from their homes by or at the instance of Army Officers performing Martial Law duties. f)  Raping of a large number of East Pakistani women by the officers and men of the Pakistan army as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture. g) Deliberate killing of members of the Hindu minority.  

Now we can see the report in Saturday Review May 22, 1971; p. 20-21: Genocide in East Pakistan:  “The most fundamental of all rights the right of a man to come to the aid of a fellow human being is now being denied with a degree of official arrogance seldom displayed in recent history. It was inevitable that the disaffection should reach an eruptive stage. There is no point here in detailing the facts attending the emergence of political movements seeking self-rule for East Pakistan. All that need be said that the central government at Islamabad finally did agree to submit self-rule propositions to the East Pakistan electorate. The result of the general election was an overwhelming vote in favor of self-rule. The central government at Islamabad not only failed to respect this popular decision, but ordered in armed troops to forestall implementation. The official slaughter began on March 26th. A few documented episodes: 1) Tanks and soldiers with submachine guns and grenades seized Dacca University early in the morning on March 26. All students residing in Iqbal Hall, the dormitory center, were put to death. The building was gutted by shells from tanks. 2) One hundred and three Hindu students residing in Jagannath Hall of Dacca University were shot to death. Six Hindu students were forced at gunpoint to dig graves for the others and then were shot themselves. 3) Professor C. C. Dev, widely respected head of the Department of Philosophy, was marched out of his home to an adjacent field and shot. 4) The last names of other faculty members who were killed or seriously wounded: Minirussaman, Guhathakurta, Munim, Naqui, Huda, Innasali, Ali. 5) Central government troops forced their way into Flat D of Building 34 at the university, seized Professor Muniru Zaman, his son, his brother (employed by the East Pakistan High Court), and his nephew, and marched the group to the first-floor foyer, where they were machine-gunned. 6) A machine gun was installed on the roof of the terminal building at Sadarghat, the dock area of Old Dacca. On March 26, all civilians within range were fired upon. After the massacre, the bodies were dragged into buses. Some were burned. Some were dumped into the Buriganga River, adjacent to the terminal. 7) On the morning of March 28, machine guns were placed at opposite ends of Shandari Bazar, a Hindu artisan center in old Dacca. Central government forces suddenly opened fire on civilians trapped in the bazaar. The corpses were strewn on the street. 8) On the evening of March 28, soldiers invaded Ramna Kalibari, an ancient small Hindu settlement, killing all the occupants (estimated at 200). On March 29, about one hundred corpses were put on display in the village. 9) The flight of civilians from Dacca was blocked at gunpoint. 10) On the morning of April 2, forty soldiers entered a village named Barda, rounded up the male population (approximately 600) and marched them at gunpoint to Gulshan Park; where they were interrogated. Ten members of the group were then taken off; their fate is unknown. ”

Another report in The Wall Street Journal, July 27,1971 To help control of Bengali population, the army has been setting up a network of peace committees superimposed upon the normal civil administration, which the army cannot fully rely upon. Peace committee members are drawn from Beharis and from the Muslim Leagues and Jamat-e-Islami. The peace committees serve as the agent of army, informing on civil administration as well as on general populace. They are also in charge of confiscating and redistribution of shops and lands from Hindu and pro-independence Bengalis. The peace committee also recruits Razakars. Many of them are common criminals who have thrown their lots with the (Pakistan) army.”

 

The term Razakar is originally derived from an Arabic word meaning volunteer. In the context of Islamic history Razakars were volunteers to defend or support Islam. But in Bangladeshi context Razakar means traitors or collaborators of the Paki army who helped them, in our liberation war in 1971, in identifying and killing millions of Bangalees involved in or even supporting the liberation war.  The Razakars were mainly the members of Muslim league, Jamat-e-Islam and other Islamic groups and factions. During the liberation war the razakars: a) provided intelligence against the freedom fighters, the supporters and sympathizers of the war. b) Abducted, arrested and eventually killed them with the help of the Paki troops and party cadres in various army, concentration camps and killings zones. c) Burnt their houses and looted their properties. d) Kidnapped thousands of Bangalee women and trafficked them to various Paki military camps. e) Raped and molested 400,000 Bangalee women. Go Azam (Gholam Azam), Monnan, Motya (Matiur Rahman Nizami, head of Chhatra Sangha, the students’ organization of Jamat-e-islam and Al-Badr and Al Sams forces), Delu (Delwar Hossain Saidi), Moinuddin (the assassin), Al Mojahid, Anwar Zahid, Foka Chowdhury were some of the top Razakars.

               Ghulam Azam, The head (Amir) of the collaborators (Rajakar) of Pakistani occupation army and a heinous war criminal. The vile monster behind the genocide of 1971, rapes and molestation of 400,000 Bengali women and murder of hundreds of pro Bangladesh intellectuals. In one of the photos recovered from the archive of Pakistan military intelligence Gholam Azam and his top associate Motiur Rahman Nizami are seen handing the list of the names of progressive Bangalee intellectuals over to the Pakistani generals for elimination. The guru of extremist Islamic ideologies in Bangladesh. The Leader of 70,000 Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Sams forces. (New York  Times, 30 July,1971).

Mohd Kamruzzaman was the former executive editor of the Jamati mouthpiece Daily Sangram, and presently editor of the weekly Sonar Bangla. In 1971, Kamruzzarnan was the leader of the Islami Chattra Sangha (Islamic student’s organization) in Mymensingh. He was also the principal organizer of the Al-Badr force. An article in the Daily Sangram on August 16,197 1, said, “A rally and symposium were organized in Mymensingh by the Al- Badr to celebrate the 25th independence day of Pakistan. The chief organizer of the Al-Badr, Mouhammed Kamruzzaman presided over the symposium held at the local Muslim Institute.”

Abdul Alim, A former minister in the cabinet of late president Gen Ziaur Rahman (1977-81), Abdul Alim served as the chairman of the “Peace Committee” in Joypurhat in 1971. The first piece of evidence against Alim is given on page 38- 39 of the The Killers and Collaborators of 1971: An Account of Their Whereabouts. It says, “Abdul Alim himself carried out execution of Bengalis by lining them up in rows and then shooting them. Besides, there are many allegations of Alim killing Bengalees by bayonet charges”. The same book carries a photograph from a newspaper of the period, which shows a beaming Alim standing beside one Major Afzal of the Pakistan army. Sitting on the ground were a number of freedom fighters, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs. “Those freedom fighters were paraded through the town and later shot dead.”

Abdul Kader Molla was known as a “butcher” to the Bengalis in Mirpur area (outskirts of Dhaka city) during 1971. Mirpur at the time was mainly populated by Behari (non Bengali) Muslim migrants from India, who were among the most ardent supporters of the Pakistani occupation of Bangladesh.  One of the largest mass graves of people butchered by Pakistani troops and their allies was discovered in the Shialbari area of Mirpur after independence. According to the locals of Mirpur area Molla was instrumental to the killing of thousands of Bengalis in Shialbari and Rupnagar areas of Mirpur during the war. Many of them confirmed that Molla began his killing spree even before the army had begun its operation.

Motiur Nizami, the mastermind of all political killings and patron of various Mujahedin forces and Jihadist terrorist cells. The chief of operations of the al-Badr (Jamati death squad) forces, Motiur Rahaman Nizami is responsible for the murder of thousands of Bengalis involved in or connected to the liberation war. Son of Khondokar Lutfar Rahman of Monmothpur village under Sathia PS in Pabna district, Motiur has nothing to do with the title Nizami (Nizam means aristocrat i.e. Nizam of Hyderabad, India) at all. Like his other Islamist peers Motiur took up his title Nizami in order to make his name sound respectable, conceal his lowly origin and his base nature. The people of his village hated him so much for his shameless betrayal of his own countrymen that they still call him Moitya Dalal (traitor). Motiur was the minister for industries in Khaleda Zia’s cabinet-a reward for Motiur’s supports of the Pakistani hunks Khaleda deserted her husband for in 1971.

Moinuddin Chowdhury, the chief executioner of the Al-Badr and Al-Sams forces. The key person behind the brutal murder of hundreds of progressive Bengali intellectuals in 1971. Moinuddin and his cohorts picked the enlisted intellectuals from their residences between 12-14 December,1971 and killed them at Rayer bazaar and Mirpur. It is said that those who were still alive after being shot by Moinuddin’s henchmen, Moinuddin himself used to slit their throats in his own hand like slaughtering bulls for Korbani. Moinuddin was the mastermind  among his criminal peers as nothing much has been found against him. One of his razakar mate said he saw Moinuddin taking away all the money and important documents from the Al-Badr head office in Dhaka after the victory of Bangladesh. Presently Moinuddin is a British citizen and the special editor of the Jamat publication- the weekly Dawat. He is expatriate Bangladeshi elite and travels to Bangladesh frequently.

Delwar Hossain Sayeedee as his name is now officially spelled and is being represented with a red diplomatic passport from the last BNP government as an Islamic scholar and preacher was originally a boorish mountebank and a pimp of the local brothel at Pirojpur, a small town in Barisal district. The locals still call him Delu (a name that negates all the spirituality that an Arabic name such as Sayeedee inspires) which is the short form of his name Delwar. During the liberation war Saidi was called delu razakar due to his collaboration with the Paki occupation army. There is no record that Saidi had ever attended any school whether Islamic or public. Like many fake Islamic ‘divines’ Saidi was accorded a title ‘Sayeedee’ overnight and promoted as such  by the then Pakistani civil affairs dept, an organization run by the Paki military intelligence (ISI).  Saidi’s personal idol must be Hitlar, for both of them assented to power by virtue of their oratory skills. Both of them whet their rhetoric in their first career as a street hawker. Hitler being a German sold fake paintings on the streets; Saidi a rustic quack sold potions for venereal diseases and sexual impotence. As a street hawker saidi had a second job as a pimp for the local brothel. Traditionally most quacks work as pimps in Bangladeshi villages. It is a very lucrative business: they earn commission from the hookers, blackmail the clients and when the clients contract venereal diseases become their permanent patients. Later Saidi realized that it is more rewarding to sell spiritual potions than cheap potions for gonorrhea and syphilis. He also realized, in course of his career as a quack, that the spiritual sickness is a more prolific opportunity to pry in business than selling potions for sexual impotence. So Saidi assumed  his new role: a preacher of (Jamat-e-) Islam. But Saidi does not preach the austere aspects of Islam. He fans the vulgar side of it to draw the perverts to his flock. He uses his obscene rhetoric (used to sell his potions as a quack to cure sexual impotence) to emphasis male chauvinism implicit in the patriarchal religion-Islam. In both cases his technique is same: to pamper male ego and feed male libido. This technique turned him into the most popular preacher of Islam among the Bangladeshi Muslims both home and abroad. Thousands of his audio cassettes are sold in Bangladesh and exported to overseas: middle East, Europe, USA  Australia. Bangladeshi males listen to his obscene preaching’s to feed their repressed libidinous urges and secure their authority over their less fortunate women folks. The worst thing is: Saidi’s doctrines constitute the moral fiber of a large number of unenlightened Bangladeshis both home and abroad. Saidi is the extension of Nizami’s ideological warfare. Nizami sets traps for the unenlightened but literate Muslims, Saidi for illiterate and unrefined Muslims. But Saidi is also very effective for the technically skilled but philosophically unenlightened Bangladeshi Muslims. Every year Saidi earns thousands of dollars and pounds from overseas. Those Bangladeshi immigrants are all skilled migrants. They are skilled but unenlightened, otherwise how do they attend Saidi’s preaching’s when it is impossible for a decently sensible person to stand such vulgar eloquence?  Like his peer Nizami, Saidi was also involved in killing, looting, arson, extortion and confiscation during the liberation war. In both cases their victims were the Hindu Bengalis and people involved in or connected to the liberation war. In 1971 Saidi and his gang formed an espionage network in the Pirojpur area against the freedom fighters. He and his gang once captured a freedom fighter Mr. Abdul Aziz (an ex member of EPR, now BDR) on his secret visit home to see his first born in the dead of the night. Saidi handed Mr Aziz to the Pakistani army who tortured him to death. Saidi’s dossier abounds in this type of murder, torture, extortions and confiscations.  Under his appearance of an Islamic preacher, Saidi is nothing but an irremediable  imposter, a traitor and a vile monster. Listed below are some of Saidi’s crimes in 1971: 1. In 1971 Saidi was not associated with any political party, but conducted his activities in his individual capacity as a self proclaimed Islamic crusader. There are allegations that he actively helped the Pakistani forces in their campaign of killings, lootings, rape arson etc., by forming local paramilitary forces. During the war, he along with four associates formed an organization called “Fund of the Five”. The principal aim of the organization was to loot and take over property of freedom fighters and Bengali Hindus. He used to sell those looted property and conduct a profitable business from the sales proceedings. 2. During the liberation war, Saidi ravaged the shop of a Hindu Bengali named Madan and took all his properties away. Saidi opened a shop at Parer Hat steamer station with the merchandise looted from the nearby grocery shops owned by the Hindus. -Mizan,  a former  freedom fighter from Parer Hat Union Command.  3. In 1971, Saidi forcibly took over the home of Bipin Saha, a local Hindu,  and continued to live there during the whole period; carried out anti social activities; drawn up lists of suspected freedom fighters and their relatives and passed it to the Pakistani army camped nearby; supplied young girls, abducted from nearby villages, to Pakistani camps; to help the occupation army Saidi burnt down the ferry port of Parer Hat; he forced the local youths to join Al-Badr forces, any refusals usually led to the killing of the objector. -Advocate Abdur Razzaq Khan, Pirojpur. 3. Saidi was behind the murder of one Himangsu Babu and his relatives. He also killed Ganapati Halder, an extraordinarily   brilliant student of Pirojpur. Saidi was instrumental to the murder of many intellectuals and mid ranking government officers suspected of sympathizing with the cause of Bangladesh : a. Faijur Rahman, sub divisional police officer (SDPO) and father of writer and professor of Chemistry, Humayun Ahmed b. Abdur Razzaq, acting SDO  d. Mizanur Rahman, former leader of the Students’ League,  e. Abdul Gaffar Miyan, head teacher f. Samshul Huq Faraji, social worker g. Atul Karmaker. 4. At Saidi’s instruction his gang torn one Bhagirathi into pieces, accused of supplying information to freedom fighters by Saidi, by tying him to the back of a motorbike and dragging him for five miles. Advocate Ali Hyder, Central Leader of Ganatantri Party, Pirojpur. 5. According to Beni Madhab Saha, a resident of Pirojpur, Saidi and his men kidnapped and killed :Krishna Kanta Saha, Bani Kanta Sikdar, Tarani Kanta Sikdar. Saidi and his cohorts carried out repression on the daughters of Hari Sadhu and Bipin Saha, she said. Saidi, after looting the home of the Talukdars, a Hindu landowning family, kidnapped 25 women and sent them to the Pakistan army camp.

Salahuddin Kader Chowdhury popularly known as Saka Chowdhury, son of Late Fazlul Kader Chowdhury (Foka Chowdhury), hails from the village Gohira under Raozan police station of Chittagong district. A member of the parliament, Salahuddin was the advisor for parliamentary affairs to the BNP Chairpersons Mrs. Khaleda Zia and the master mind behind the communal activities in Bangladesh since 1971. During our liberation war Saka led an extensive campaign against the liberation of Bangladesh and offered absolute collaboration to the Pakistan occupation army. The focus of all his heinous activities was his own district, Chittagong. Under the guidance of his worthy father Foka Cowdhury and supported by his brother Giasuddin Kader Chowdhury (who is an Ex-MP and failed to take people’s mandate during 2001 parliamentary election from Raozan due to continued persecution on minority people and anti-social activities) and many fellow collaborators carried out anti-liberation war activities from his Good’s Hill residence in Chittagong.

The list of top collaborators of 1971; 34 members of the Central Peace Committee, 6 member of Leaders of the Central Peace and Welfare Council, 2 members of the Malek Cabinet, 20 members of The Central Committee of the Islami Chhatra Sangha (The Al-Badr High Command), 7 members of The Education Reform Committee Formed by Tikka Khan, 14 Teachers of Dhaka University who were given compulsory leave after being charged with collaboration, 3 members of Institute of Educational Research, 8 members of Physical Education Center, Several of those collaborating teachers were involved in the killing of the intellectuals. Many of their names were found in the diary of Ashrafuzzaman Khan, the Chief Executioner of the Al-Badr forces.  4 members of Institute of Educational Research, 5 Teachers of Rajshahi University who were given compulsory leave after being charged with collaboration. Another 6 Teachers of Rajshahi University who were arrested on charges of collaboration. 2 people were charged with collaboration and fled away after independence. (Dainik Bangla, October 3, 1973).

After the war, Bangladesh founding leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of nation, arrested 37,000 people and tried some under a collaborators act. But 11,000 people were later pardoned by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was assassinated in a military coup in 1975. The remaining 26,000 were freed when a post-Mujib military government repealed the collaborators act. Recently War Crimes Fact Finding Committee recently unveiled a list of 1,775 people it alleged were war criminals, including key leaders of the country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-i-Islami.

As you are aware, it took 41 years to initiate this justice process to end impunity for the core international crimes committed in 1971. The then newly independent Government of Bangladesh passed a law called the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act in 1973 (hereinafter the “Act”) to investigate and prosecute the persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in 1971. The Act is a complete law in itself, providing the substantive law, definition of crimes, procedures to follow, provisions of evidence, constitution of the Tribunal, obligation of the Judges to be independent and to ensure fair trial standards, including the rights of the accused, rules to monitor investigations and interrogations, supervising arrest and viability of continued detention, rules to protect the witnesses and victims, rules regarding appeal after conviction, and the rule making authority of the judges etc. Under the Act, the International Crimes Tribunal was set up by the Government of Bangladesh in March 2010 when the Judges of the Tribunal were appointed. Two of the three Judges are serving Judges of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the third Judge possesses 30 years of trial court experience at the district court level and is qualified to be Judge of the Supreme Court. At the same time, the Government set up the Prosecution Team and the Investigation Agency of the Tribunal and appointed Prosecutors and Investigators respectively. Eight separate cases are now being tried before the International Crimes Tribunal. All cases are each at different stages of the legal process. Currently, witnesses are being heard by the Tribunal in one case in which the accused has been indicted, while the six other cases are in their ‘charge framing stage’ which is the stage prior to indictment. In one case, the accused is still being investigated. The International Crimes Tribunal-1 will pronounce the verdict in the case against war crimes accused Jamaat leader Sayedee, any day as the arguments in the case ended on December 6, 2012. Sayedee, the detained nayeb-e-ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, is facing 20 specific charges of crimes against humanity that he had allegedly committed during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. Finally I like to say- “All Bangladeshi is eager to see the trial of war criminals”.

 

Reference:

  1. Liberation Museum
  2. Killers and Collaborators of 1971: An Account of Their Whereabouts, compiled and published by the Center for the Development of the Spirit of the Liberation War
  3. News Paper of 1971
  4. International Crimes Strategy Forum
  5. Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report

(Khaledur Rahman Shakil: Born & lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Completed Masters from University of Dhaka.  Editor of Voice Bangladesh; is Convener of the “Justice for Genocide”; Core Coordinator of War Crime Trial Stage Bangladesh, Senior Fellow with the World Peace and Friendship Mission and Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project, a known Activist, Poet, Writer & Journalist.)

 

 

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