We have a peculiar situation in Bangladesh and among the Bangladeshi Diaspora around the world where one group constantly call Gulam Azam the top Hitler like war criminal, and make links with and undertake comparisons with the horrors of the Second World War. They believe that by keep on repeating the term war criminal it will stick and become ingrained in people’s minds. Another group try to show how great Gulam Azam was and are not deterred by the Bangladesh War Crimes verdicts.
At the moment the monopoly that one camp had, namely the Bengali Nationalists / Secularists, in interpreting history, narrative generation and shaping public opinion has been eroding and eroding very fast, although they seem to be still relatively dominant. However, they stand on shaky grounds and the highest symbol of their grounds being shaky is the incredible idea that 3 million people were killed during the 1971 liberation war and 200,000 – 400,000 women were raped. If they can go on repeating the 3 million figure without any shame, which means 11,000 people being killed every day for nine months, and not make attempts to revise the figure based a credible evidence gathering process then everything else they say, including about Gulam Azam, can be treated as suspect, questioned and challenged.
The establishment of the War Crimes Trial in Bangladesh which lacks credibility means that now, based on evidence submitted against the alleged war criminals, the challenges brought by Jamaat’s international and domestic lawyers against the evidence and process, Skypegate and the kidnapping of Bali, etc. that there are too many holes and problems associated with the process of establishing Gulam Azam as the top war criminals.
This is a real shame as the brutal and unnecessary war waged by General Yahaya Khan and the Pakistani military with the active support of many East Pakistan Bengalis including Jamaat e Islam destroyed the lives of and displaced so many people. Playing politics with made up figures and using exaggerated war time stories to try and destroy a political part and political ideology is a really shameful act. The result is that we are less certain now what happened during the war, who did what and the scale of what happened.
The Jamaatists currently feel a real sense of injustice being done to them, with martyrs of their own for the first time, and the public at large feel that the War Crimes Trial in Bangladesh is not fair mean that it will be very difficult to establish Gulam Azam as the top war criminals in the eyes of the public at large and the battle for his reputation will continue to wage well into the future and perhaps without an end. The eroding dominant position of Bengali Nationalists / Secularists will mean that they will face a real fight on their hand will fail in their attempts to establish Gulam Azam as a Hitler like war criminal of Bangladesh.
Given the above who will tell us what happened during the war that’s believable and how shall we remember and do justice to the victims of the brutal 1971 Liberation? In this regard we need honest, truthful, brave and skilled people to enter the game and slowly help push the political people out of the field.
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