Audience at the documentary screening. Photo: Mumit M.
Sundari Dasi was only seven months old at that time, when people found her suckling from her dead mother's breast. Her mother was brutally raped and killed by the Pakistani military and their Bengali collaborators during the Liberation War. This incident stirred the village Chuknagar of Khulna district, where one of the large-scale genocides of 1971 occurred. Now in her late 30s, Sundari Dasi wants the trial of the war criminals.
Lutfar Rahman was a school student when some influential people of his village forced him to join the 'Razakar Bahini' -- to benefit from the political situation and secure "a blissful afterlife," as they put it. He went into training and was part of several crimes against humanity. Rahman was punished with a year of imprisonment after Independence. He knows what the 'Razakar Bahini' did at that time and says, "I was almost a child then and even I was punished, then why should the other war criminals go unpunished?"
The above two cases are featured in Juddhaporadh 71, a documentary by renowned litterateur and working President of 'Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee' Shahriar Kabir. A special screening of the documentary was held on September 23 at WVA Auditorium. The documentary takes on the task of defining what "war crimes" mean and the dreadful acts against humanity that the war criminals committed during 1971. Through the eyes of three youth who set out to search for the truth, the documentary works on a vast canvas -- including facts, interviews with eminent personalities and war victims, rare footage, documents and more.
"It took almost two years to complete the documentary. I'm grateful to the district correspondents of 'Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee' and especially to the local journalists, who helped me to go to remote places for interviews and collect proof. I think it would be a hard blow to the war criminals who now dare to deny the facts," said the documentary-maker in his welcome speech.
An important aspect of the documentary as recognised by Shahriar Kabir is that it includes interviews with those social and human rights activists in the then West Pakistan who protested against the military regime of Pakistan during 1971 and were punished for their efforts. Shahriar Kabir also sheds some light on the legal procedures for the trial of war criminals and tries to clarify the issue of 'general amnesty' declared by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
A brief discussion was held after the documentary screening, presided over by Justice Golam Rabbani. Noted journalist Kamal Lohani, human rights activist Ayesha Khanam, architect and art critic Rabiul Hossain and Professor Ajay Roy, among others, were the discussants at the event. The discussants emphasised taking the documentary to the masses to generate awareness on the need for trial of the war criminals.
The documentary has been produced by South Asian People's Convention against Fundamentalism and War Crime. Noted cultural personality Asaduzzaman Noor has done the narration in the film, Lucky Akhand is the music director and Said Kajol, Nafis Ahmed Nadvi and Zahir Ahmed (Pakistan) are the cinematographers.