Of Pakistan's denials of war crimes and the world's silence
In an act of denial, Pakistan has alleged that no war crimes had been committed during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The statement is a slur on the very foundation of our collective spirit. It is also a contradiction to Pakistan's judicial inquiry into the country's "political–military assessed involvement in East-Pakistan" (now Bangladesh), since the inquiry precisely mentioned the atrocities committed on innocent people of Bangladesh during the war.
More surprising is the fact that the organisations monitoring human rights across the world and the United Nations (UN) that had shown so much concern for the fairness of the ongoing war crimes trial in Bangladesh, preferred to keep mum on Pakistan's recent statement. Though Pakistan made pointless arguments demeaning the Liberation War before, the rights watchdogs were completely noncommittal about them, which is why Pakistan has found the gumption to come up with such outrageous statements once again.
Pakistan's denial of war crimes is the denial of one of the worst genocides that has ever taken place in the history of mankind. It's a mockery of the sacrifice of the three million people killed, 200,000 women raped, and nearly 30 million people who were made homeless. They have turned a blind eye to the fact known to even a school going kid who can surf the internet to read articles on war crimes on Wikipedia. But neither Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch and the UN have ever made a protest to refute such ridiculous statements issued by Pakistan.
When two notorious war criminals – Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujaheed – were set to go to the gallows, Amnesty International issued a statement that said, "Two opposition leaders face imminent execution after serious flaws in their trials and appeals". Unfortunate as it may sound, the rights watchdog was vocal in its favour of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury who had given a false alibi by producing a forged certificate; he had also made statements vowing to take revenge against all those who were involved in the trial process. A public university vice-chancellor gave a horrifying account of how he had been tortured by Chowdhury and his father. On the other hand, Mujaheed is infamous for leading the systematic murders of intellectuals of the country during the war.
However, the recent statement issued by Pakistan that totally denies the war crimes drew no flak from Amnesty International. In another mockery of justice, Pakistan termed the said executions as 'unfortunate' and expressed anguish and deep concern. Echoing the same tone, Human Rights Watch, another international watchdog, asked that we stop the execution, alleging that the trial process was flawed. But the reality is that the incorporation of the provision for a review appeal made the tribunal fairer and more transparent than that of Nuremberg or many other such tribunals.
Though the rights body has shown surprising promptness in coming up with statements before and after any verdict issued by the International Crimes Tribunal, it has appeared to be quite indifferent to the objectionable statement made by Pakistan. This shows the obvious bias of the watchdog.
Immediately after the execution, we observed that the UN called for a moratorium on executions in the country. But this very organisation appears to be forgetful of the fact that Pakistan ranks first and the US fourth in terms of execution of the death penalty. Thus it appears that the international body prefers to remain silent regarding the execution of some criminals, while choosing to become vocal when it comes to mass murderers being sent to the gallows.
Before Quader Mollah, the war criminal popularly known as the 'butcher of Mirpur', was hanged, US secretary of State John Kerry forecasted that the execution might derail the national elections. Does it imply that the government should compromise on law on the grounds that those loyal to war criminals might create anarchy? But the US registered no protest against Pakistan's statement. Does the US want to justify their decision to send its seventh fleet to aid Pakistani occupational forces during the Liberation War of Bangladesh?
When an ISIL leader known as Jihadi John in Syria was reportedly killed, the BBC quoted a US Pentagon official saying that the world had become a bit safer. Following the execution of the death sentence of two convicted war criminals, can't we say that it was a giant step forward towards upholding the values of freedom and humanity?
We understand the position of international rights bodies against the death penalty. But why should they remain silent when Pakistan denies its army's role in committing war crimes? What about the human rights of those martyrs who were subjected to inhuman torture and mercilessly killed?
The writer is working as Assistant Coordinator (Research) at the Centre For Research and Information (CRI). He is also the Assistant Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League (sub-committee).