Atrocious and dreadful crimes were committed during the nine
month-long war of liberation in 1971, which resulted in the birth of
Bangladesh, an independent state.
Some three million people were
killed, nearly quarter million women were raped and over 10 million
people were forced to take refuge in India to escape brutal
persecution at home, during the nine-month battle and struggle of
The perpetrators of the crimes could not be brought
to book, and this left an unfathomable abrasion on the country`s
political awareness and the whole nation.
The general elections of 1970 had made Sheikh Mujibur Rahman , the
leader of the Awami league which bagged 167 seats out of 169 allotted
for East Pakistan, the sole spokesman of the people of East Pakistan
and majority leader in the Pakistan National Assembly.
But the Pakistan civil and military ruling clique had refused to transfer
power to the majority leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party.
Sheikh Mujib also refused to yield to the pressure put on him for
Sheikh`s historic address on 7 March 1971 made
this point quite clear to the Pakistani military junta. Then begun the
civil disobedience movement.
Meanwhile talks started between Mujib and
Yahya to resolve the outstanding issues. While holding talks, the
Pakistani military junta was bringing more troops to Bangladesh and at
the same time wantonly killing innocent civilians all over the
This clearly showed that they were totally insincere about
handing over power to the elected representatives of Bangladesh. No
sooner the talks failed, the genocide began, with the Pakistan army`s
crackdown on the people of East Pakistan on the midnight of 25 March
The Bengali soldiers serving in the then Pakistan Armed Forces
and para militia forces declared instantly their solidarity with the
people`s liberation war.
It all started with Operation Searchlight, a planned military
pacification carried out by the Pakistan Army started on 25 March,
1971 to curb the Bengali nationalist movement by taking control of the
major cities on March 26, and then eliminating all opposition,
political or military, within one month. Before the beginning of the
operation, all foreign journalists were systematically deported from
Bangladesh. The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the
fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid May.
According to New York Times (3/28/71) 10,000 people were killed; New
York Times (3/29/71) 5,000-7,000 people were killed in Dhaka; The
Sydney Morning Herald (3/29/71) 10,000 – 100,000 were killed; New York
Times (4/1/71) 35,000 were killed in Dhaka during operation
The operation also began the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. These
systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which
ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in
The international media and reference books in English
have published casualty figures which vary greatly; 200,000–3,000,000
for Bangladesh as a whole.
There is only one word for this: Genocide.
A well-known researcher on genocide, R.J. Rummel, in his book
Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900, states:
“In East Pakistan [General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan
and his top generals] also planned to murder its Bengali
intellectual, cultural, and political elite.
They also planned
to indiscriminately murder hundreds of thousands of its
Hindus and drive the rest into India.
And they planned to
destroy its economic base to insure that it would be
subordinate to West Pakistan for at least a generation to
Women were tortured, raped and killed. With the help of its local
collaborators, the Pakistan military kept numerous Bengali women as
sex slaves inside their camps and cantonments. Susan Brownmiller, who
conducted a detailed study, has estimated the number of raped women at
Role of Local auxiliary forces during the War
The Pakistan government and the military setup number of auxiliary
forces such as the Razakars, the Al-Badar, the Al-Shams, the Peace
Committee etc, essentially to act as a team with the Pakistani
occupation army in identifying and eliminating all those who were
perceived to be pro-liberation, individuals belonging to minority
religious groups especially the Hindus, political groups belonging to
Awami League and Bangalee intellectuals and unarmed civilian
population of Bangladesh. “Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, became
independent in December 1971 after a nine-month war against West
The West`s army had the support of many of East Pakistan`s
Islamist parties. They included Jamaat-e-Islami, still Bangladesh`s
largest Islamist party, which has a student wing that manned a
pro-army paramilitary body, called Al Badr.”
Jamat E Islami (JEI) and some other pro-Pakistan political
organizations substantially contributed in creating these
para-militias forces (auxiliary force) for combating the unarmed
Bangalee civilians, in the name of protecting Pakistan.
Actions in concert with its local collaborator militias, Razakar, Al-Badar and
Jamat E Islami (JEI) and other elements of pro-Pakistani political
parties were intended to stamp out Bangalee national liberation
movement and to mash the national feelings and aspirations of the
Fox Butterfield wrote in the New York Times- January
3, 1972 that “Al Badar is believed to have been the action section of
Jamat-e-Islami, carefully organized after the Pakistani crackdown last
In the War of Liberation that ensued, all people of East Pakistan
wholeheartedly supported and participated in the call to free
Bangladesh but a small number of Bangalees, Biharis, other
pro-Pakistanis, as well as members of a number of different
religion-based political parties, particularly Jamat E Islami (JEI)
and its student wing Islami Chatra Sangha (ICS), Muslim League,
Pakistan Democratic Party(PDP) Council,Muslim League, Nejam E Islami
joined and/or collaborated with the Pakistan occupation army to
aggressively resist the conception of independent Bangladesh and most
of them committed and facilitated the commission of atrocities in
violation of customary international law in the territory of
Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal: Make Justice through Fair Trials
The massive atrocities committed during the nine-month 1971 conflict,
from which Bangladesh emerged as an independent State, still haunt the
country and efforts to finally bring justice are essential for
Bangladesh to moving forward without the heavy burden of a
long-standing culture of impunity.
The hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors deserve that justice is done and seen to be done. As with any conflict, the senseless loss of life and human
suffering was experienced on all sides.
All those who suffered during the conflict have a right to see justice through an independent and impartial judicial process.
Even after four decades, the call for justice is shared not just by
the victims of atrocities, but by the whole of Bangladesh, as a
country. The establishment of an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT)
was a key promise on the basis of which the BLA-led Grand Alliance
received a strong popular mandate and Bangladesh’s commitment to
justice was reaffirmed when it became the first South East Asian State
Party to the International Criminal Court in 2010.
The ICT, which began its work in March 2010, has an historic mission
to close this traumatic chapter and redress the historical burden of
atrocities that has accompanied Bangladesh since its birth as a
It can fulfill this mandate by bringing to justice those who
ordered and committed wide-scale atrocities; providing acknowledgement
and redress to countless victims; and creating an undeniable factual
record of the events that reflects the real experiences of all
To keep the promise of justice for the thousands of victims and their
families that the ICT’s establishment represented, Bangladesh needs
immediately and categorically to exclude the death penalty for
individuals accused before the ICT and ensure that the trials are
conducted in a fair and transparent manner.
“ The Shahbag Mass Movement of 2013 in Bangladesh began on Tuesday
February 5, 2013 in Dhaka Bangladesh with the demand of capital
punishment for Abdul Quader Molla and all the other accused war
criminals of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh People of all ages
have been gathering in Shahbag everyday to express solidarity with the
peaceful nonviolent movement.
Abdul Quader Mollah was charged with
abetting the Pakistani army; actively participating in the 1971
atrocities in Bangladesh; rape (including the rape of minors); and
mass murder of Bangladeshis in the Mirpur area of Dhaka during the
Liberation War of Bangladesh.
The many grievous attrocities committed
by Abdul Quader Mollah during the liberation war earned him the
nickname of Mirpurer Koshai ( Butcher of Mirpur) .
On February 5, 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison after he was proved guilty in five out of the
six charges against him.
Within hours of the verdict, mass discontent
broke out in Bangladesh where most people were expecting capital
punishment for Mollah.
The bloggers and online activists gave voice to
the public opinion and called for a mass demonstration at the Shahbag
intersection in central Dhaka. People from all walks of life
spontaneously joined the protest and the demonstration culminated into
the 2013 Shahbag movement.
The Shahbag intersection is currently being
referred to as "Projonmo Chottor" "New Generation Circle" in English -
after the new generation credited with initiating such a spontaneous
yet robust movement.
It has also been referred to as Shahbag Square in
a nod to the historic and revolutionary events which unfolded in
Tahrir Square in Egypt.
Thousands have been holding day and night
vigils at Shahbag refusing to leave until Mollah and other war
criminals get capital punishment.
ii. The Economist : Jul 1st 2010:
iii. Bangladesh Documents Vol. II page 577, Ministry of External
Affairs, New Delhi
iv. Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca, Secretary General of No Peace
Without Justice, Nicola Giovannini, President of "Droit au Droit"
BDST: 1300 HRS, FEB 16, 2013
All rights reserved. Sale, redistribution or reproduction of information/photos/illustrations/video/audio contents on this website in any form without prior permission from banglanews24.com are strictly prohibited and liable to legal action.