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Jan 14

Why the Economist and Dr. Ghamdi had a point: A response to Bhaskar Roy and Pritom Das

Recently, humungous articles have been published relating to conspiracy against the International War crimes tribunal in Bangladesh by international personalities and media, namely Dr. Ali Al Ghamdi, Turkish President Abdullah Al Gul, the Economist and Human Rights Watch. Pritom Das, in dissecting article published at bdnews24.com, penned “Dr. Ali A-Ghamdi:Luxury of Lies“, on January 8th, 2013 in response to an article of Dr. Ali Al Ghamdi on December 19, 2012 in the Saudi Gazette which he titled “A trial to Deny Justice”. Another notable article is the recently published, “Bangladesh: External Efforts To Scuttle Genocide Trials – Analysis” published on January 9,2013, Eurasia Review and penned by Bhaskar Roy of the South Asia Analysis Group. It all started when the Economist published a howler of an article, “Trying war crimes in Bangladesh: The trial of the birth of a nation“, on the 15th of December 2012. It is quite a war of words comparing the four elaborately penned articles, in which the Economist admittedly has the upper hand due to its historic and worldwide reputation. 
On to dissecting the article of Pritom Das from bdnews24.com. When Pritom Das corrects Dr. Ali Al Ghamdi saying,
Lie number one, the number of laws were not one, but two. First one was the Collaborators Act of 1972 which was applicable to the people who collaborated with the Pakistani Army in committing genocide and other crimes. The second one, International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 was issued for trying any person responsible for committing international crimes in the territory of Bangladesh including those 195 Pakistani prisoners of war.“,

he is but reinstating Dr. Ghamdi’s more factual but earthly words,

The Pakistan army was accused of committing war crimes, including murder and rape, during the civil war. The first government of Bangladesh, headed by the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, issued a law to try war crimes, and accordingly a list of suspected war criminals was prepared. The list contained 195 Pakistani soldiers and there were no civilians among those accused of war crimes. Another law was issued to try Bangladeshis who collaborated with the Pakistan army. Under this law, more than 100,000 people were arrested but were later released due to a public amnesty announced by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”
     In short Dr. Ghamdi simply stated what had happened on the ground while Pritom Das goes on to dictate the laws, word by word. It is a practical observation that laws are theoretical jargon applied as per need practically on the ground. This is proved by Pritom Das himself when further, he goes on to explain that the 195 Pakistani war criminals were not forgiven but transferred to the custody of the Pakistani government,
“Lie number two, the 195 Pakistani war criminals were not forgiven or released. They were just transferred to the custody of Pakistan while Pakistan was responsible for bringing them to justice as part of their obligation under international law. Due to serious diplomatic clash among Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India concerning those Pakistani prisoners of war, a tri-partite agreement was signed by those three countries. According to this agreement, the government of Pakistan took the responsibility of arranging the trial of the 195 war criminals.” 
The wording makes it clear that Bangladesh had no choice in the matter then and the transfer of 195 Pakistani prisoners of war/war criminals amounted to releasing them under the pressure of India. In retrospective, Dr, Ghamdi was right in stating that “With this, the trials of war crimes suspects seemed to come to an end.” 
Das further goes on to state, “ Dr. Al-Ghamdi lies as he says that the collaborators were released. More than 20 collaborators were sentenced to death; many were sentenced to imprisonment for different durations.  Dr. Al-Ghamdi speaks of political leaders; in the following we present a number of news headlines regarding their trials and imprisonments:
“PDP leader Nurul Amin sentenced for collaboration” (Dainik Bangla, July 5, 1972)
“Jasimuddin, minister of aggressor’s reign, sentenced to life” (Ittefaq, November 26, 1972)
“Jamaat-e-Islami leader Maolana Yousuf sentenced to life” (Ittefaq, December 5, 1972)
“Solayman sentenced to life in Khulna” (Ittefaq, December 23, 1972) 
My simple but loaded question is, do we hear any names of Nizami, Sayedee, Kamruzzaman or  Abdul Kader Mollah, or even Gholam Azam?
Das further goes on to refute Dr. Ghamdi’s logic of involvement of the Economist and its “archaic” arguments. He goes on to prove, through rhetoric, how innocuous it is for two law experts to discuss about government’s involvement in speeding up the trial process (ultimately hampering it?), using the blackmailing logic of emotion of the people of a country who “will inevitably” want to see all the defendants hanged.
On to the article of Bhaskar Roy in the Eurasia Review, a classical example of misinformation interwoven with a web of lies, all the while speaking from an Indian perspective. Roy begins with a background setting up the current political scenario of Bangladesh as being right wing Islamist vs secular and liberal forces by stating, “ The main conflict is between right wing elements who continue to strive for Sharia law, discrimination against women and minorities and spiritual regression on the one side, and the progressive and liberal section of the population especially the educated youth who want jobs, progress and development.“,painting a picture which is so far from the truth that it is ridiculous. Wikipedia explains the political situation in Bangladesh after 2008 elections here.

Roy continues with another ridiculous claim of Awami League government as the starting point for development of Bangladesh by saying,”After 2008, there has been some forward movement. Social indicators have improved. Economic growth reached 7%. International stature moved from ‘near a state sponsor of terrorism’ in early 2002 to “a frontline state against terrorism” in the last two years. Bangladesh began to be cited internationally as an example among developing countries. Women’s emancipation in Bangladesh under the present government is the highest in the region despite opposition from right wing political parties and groups.” I hope Roy doesn’t think Bangladesh was part of Afghanistan before 2008.

Roy goes on to explain the Economist report as an “ingenious downplay”, changing the abbreviation of ‘BJI’ to ‘JEI’ and relabeling Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami to Bangladesh Jamaet-e-Islami International. Back into the ICT trials of Bangladesh, Roy starts by giving his own verdicts,”The first accused in this trial is Dilwar Hossain Sayeedi, a top leader in the JEI, and one of the cruellest activists in 1971. Sayeedi is the dominant ideologue of the JEI who openly supports the extreme Wahabi ideology of the Al Qaeda and Taliban and has two options for minorities, that is, either convert to Islam or be prepared to be eliminated.” May I remind you dear sir on a recent order your beloved war crimes tribunal gave in connection to publishing statements that may prejudice trials, in this case of Sayedee himself.

I would further like to ask Mr. Roy to give examples how Islamists have been responsible for decreasing the Hindu population in Bangladesh as he claims, “Those who emphasize “injustice in Bangladesh” should take a short break and examine how the minorities in Bangladesh especially the Hindus, have suffered at the hands of the Islamists they are trying to defend, and how the minority population has declined from 18 percent in 1970 to barely 10 per cent today.

 Roy betrays his true intentions when he states, “The bigger concern is that the India led economic development and social stability in South Asia may be the bigger target. This writer would like to be corrected if he is wrong.”  Fat chance of you being right, considering reports such as this, this, this, this, this, this, this and the blighted list goes on and on and we don’t need the Economist to point that out. Further pointing outs of this baseless article are not required but needed to expose how the writer practically drools and raves on about international involvement in the war crimes trials in Bangladesh, spitting propaganda right, middle and left, stating, What made President Gul intervene in Bangladesh? Is the AKP trying to save the JEI who want Sharia law to be introduced in Bangladesh and put women behind burkhas and within the confines of the house? Does the AKP have such a plan for Turkey? Or is there a much larger conspiracy to demolish the development of the region. Both The Economist and the Turkish government seem to have conveniently avoided any consideration of the sudden spurt of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism led by groups such a Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI), Ahle Hadis, Hizbut Tehrir and others between 2001 and 2006. There are over 120 such fundamentalist terrorist groups in Bangladesh. Funding came to them from Islamic NGOs in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan and some other countries. A group of Al Qaida cadres were spotted in the jungles of Chittagong Hill Tracts in December 2006, hosted by the JEI. They fled after the BNP-JEI government fell.” (An op-ed was published in the Journal of Turkish Weekly entitled “The Saga of Naive Dealings in Dhaka: Who wants this Kangaroo Tribunal?“, which may help the reader in understanding the Turkish connection.)

I have already lost respect for the Eurasia Review for publishing such a blatant piece of propaganda which ends with,
“It is well known that in some capitals of the world Sk. Hasina is seen as an obstructionist to influence mongering. India is perceived as the large neighbour which is promoting Sk. Hasina and her government to a trans-Asia development connectivity.
This is not a case of a simple regime change in Bangladesh. A very serious risk is being taken by the powers and forces that be, to convert the country into a puppet of a new great game without even thinking that the strategy might blow up in their faces.
As in Alice in Wonderland, the situation is getting “curiouser and curiouser”.”
Talk about an unbiased Delhi based Indian strategist knowing what’s best for the people of Bangladesh. Thank you Bhaskar Roy for opening our eyes!!!