Thanks to Prime Minister

Anis Ahmed

Hats off to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina whose undaunted resolve and unwavering promises to the nation and the bereaved families ,who still lick the wounds received during our 1971 War of Liberation in the killing, rape and torture of millions of people, have made it possible to send heavyweight war criminals to the gallows one after another. She has proved to be “iron lady’ in trying the war criminals defying all local and foreign pressures.
The last on the current list of war crime convicts Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (SQC) of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed of Jamaat-e-Islami were hanged at the Dhaka Central Jail on Saturday midnight. They had been tried and sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) of Bangladesh for committing crimes against humanity 44 years ago during our war of liberation.
Anyone who experienced, saw or heard of the horrors of 1971 as the Pakistani occupation army and their local collborators led by Mojaheed and other Jamaat leaders (including its student militants) still shivers, wake up at night from bad dreams and spend time under the shadow of Jamaati “bazards” who may swoop down on the peace and independence loving Bangladeshis anytime from the blue along with their patrons of BNP and other ultra-Islamist killer groups.
It was Sheikh Hasina, still bleeding in heart for the killing in 1975 of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (our Father of the Nation) and most of his family members in the hands of pro-Jamaat militants and Pakistani Collaborators, made it an unflinching pledge to try and punish all killers. In this arduous process that has seen so many bumps and twists – and even threatened her own life, the Prime Minister ensured trial and highest punishment (death penalty) of Bangabandhu’s killers and then of the 1971 war criminals.
With the execution of SQC and Mojaheed, four war crime convicts have been hanged and 11 are on death row following verdicts of ICT. Two other convicts including Jamaat’s former Ameer Golam Azam died in prison while serving life term. Besides, Delwar Hossain Sayedee. Nayebe Ameer of Jamaat, has been condemned to prison until death.
The authorities aptly backed by the country’s independent judiciary are also looking for other war criminals to get them all and have them duly punished as per law of the country and peoples aspiration.
The International Crimes Tribunal set up by Sheikh Hasina’s government has prosecuted and punished the killers, rapists, arsonists and criminals of 1971 undaunted by efforts to obstruct the process by the Jamaat-BNP clique who mounted an international campaign against the trials, saying that the ICT does not follow international standards.
In their lifetime, Mojaheed claimed that there had been no war crime committed and no war criminal in Bangladesh. SQC insisted that Pakistani army and their collaborators persecuted and punished “enemies” of Pakistan and “agents” of India during our War of Liberation.
But in their mercy petitions to President Abdul Hamid they confessed their war crimes and admitted that and war criminals exist in the country.
This removed all doubts about clarity of the ICT trials and its standards — and that criminals, no matter how big or weighty are they, cannot evade justice in the long run.
President Abdul Hamid also showed his guts and respect to the rule of law by rejecting and returning to the jail authority the mercy petitions in no time. That made possible the quick executions of SQC and Mojaheed.
A string of l human rights groups and some governments including that of the United States and Britain, who pose themselves as “guardians and protectors” of human rights joined the malicious campaign – and when the death sentences were awarded they also tried to stop their execution. However, the ICT, Supreme Court and the Prime Minister stood like rock against any such deplorable attempt and kept the trials on and executed verdicts.
We feel obsessed and annoyed to note that the international rights groups and the Amnesty International had their faces hidden under the rugs when the US-UK led coalition launched the most dreadful killing and destruction mission in Iraq, killing President Saddam Hussein and similar barbaric drive in other countries of the Middle-East and other parts of the world. Did they try to stop American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair from carrying out their terrible missions in those countries? But they failed to prove the charges they made against the government of Saddam Hussein and now Blair himself publicly apologized for the Iraq aggression on `wrong ground and information’.
Now as Bangladesh moved to try war criminals within its own domain, they all woke up and howled as “conscious keepers”. But Bangladesh people, especially the young generation and freedom fighters, rose up in protest and frustrated their evil designs. Today Bangladesh stands firmly with its head erected high in the world and is revered by many freedom and peace loving nations as a role model.
Through execution of the war criminals, Sheikh Hasina has fulfilled her pledge to the nation, particularly the young generation who gave her Awami League (AL) a massive mandate in the 2008 parliamentary election that made it possible for the AL to regain power. They voted for Sheikh Hasina and her party mainly because of her promise to try the war criminals who butchered their parents, brothers and sisters, and raped women indiscriminately during 1971 War of Liberation.
How our people will forget that the collaborators like SQC and Mojaheed also gifted Bangladeshi girls to their Pakistani masters and to the Pakistan occupation army.
The statement of some US lawmakers after the execution of SQC and Mojaheed is not only deplorable but an affront on the will and sentiment of our nation. They describe the ICT as “very flawed” and a means of political “retribution”. We want to remind the US law makers that SQC and Mojaheed have not been hanged as opposition leaders but as convicts for their crimes against humanity during 1971 War of Liberation. Will they term the execution of those Americans who opposed their Independence War as “flawed and political retribution”?. We want to forget the history that US government opposed our Liberation War and sent its Seventh Fleet in support of the Pakistan occupation army.
On December 16, 1971, we won independent Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu, our Father of the Nation, from the ashes of East Pakistan. But the anger of Pakistan’s friends and surrogates kept smouldering. Jamaat which went into hiding after Bangladesh’s independence gradually reemerged and started pursuing bids to reunite Pakistan following the killing of Bangabandhu in 1975. But their heinous attempts have all failed because of the resistance and resentment of the people.
Then they held hands of the BNP, founded by military dictator General Ziaur Rahman and now led by his widow Begum Khaleda Zia, to try to thwart Sehikh Hasina’s rule and tarnish her image in the world by resorting to violence and killing people in the name of religious and political programmes.
BNP leader Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister, lost much of her political clouts by openly supporting the move to stop trial of war criminals, defying a widely popular demand. Khaleda and her party stuck deeply with Jamaat till SQC and Mojaheed hit the gallows – and probably will stay so till they find their political disaster.
The spontaneous countrywide jubilations following hanging of SCQ and Mojaheed has proved that people are happy at the continuing trial of the war criminals.
The war crime trials and punishment of the perpetrators have somewhat eased the burden in hearts of the people and on shoulders of the nation. But still a lot remains to be done. People of all shades of opinion, except the anti-liberation, communal and fundamentalist forces, welcome Sheikh Hasina’s strong stand and stern actions to improve law and order, protect people’s lives and rights, and overall, to make Bangladesh a happy, prosperous, peaceful, democratic country. We all now want greater unity of the nation against all the evil forces.