The Awami League government is playing with fire by raking up old wounds and ghosts of a toxic past
Senior Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Qader Mullah has been hanged in Dhaka for his war crimes in 1971 war. After 42 years and going through so much Hasina Wajid and her government is out there for vendetta and outright revenge. In 1971 he must have been a young man of Islamic Chatro Shango (Islami Jamiat–e-Tulba).
Their chief crime at that time was to be against the division of Pakistan. They believed in oneness of Pakistan and sided with Pakistan Army forming Al Shams and Al Badar paramilitary groups. Fighting their rivals or Mukti Bahini they may have committed some atrocities. They were the same Bengalis, considered as patriotic Pakistanis.
Who is going to account for the atrocities and genocide carried out by Mukti Bahini though? They slaughtered thousands of innocent people, looted, plundered, raped and uprooted millions. I saw some of that mayhem with my own eyes and have paid my own price.
Most of those were non-Bengalis, the Urdu-speaking called Biharis and those from West Pakistan called Punjabis. They joined hands with Indian army and fought guerilla war against the Pakistan army in making East Pakistan as Bangladesh.
It was one of the most tragic episodes of Muslim history. Muslims fought Muslims–the worst kind of civil war fought on the basis of language and political affiliation.
The world has come a long way since.
All these issues seemed to be settled down and forgotten or buried in time and history. In 2011 these cases were dug out again. The Awami League government of Hasina Wajid was out to take revenge and vendetta to seek cheap popularity and deflect attention from real issues facing the people.
Fears that the execution could spark further unrest in a country that has been plagued by political violence for the past several years were soon realized as reports emerged of street battles in towns and cities and 27 people are reported killed in the clashes. It is reported that due to violent clashes Dhaka lost contact with rest of the country.
In Washington, a State Department representative said Bangladesh was passing through a “very sensitive moment”, urging all parties to resolve their differences peacefully.
“We’ve long urged the authorities to assure that trials are free, transparent and in accord with international standards, but we’ve also urged all parties and their supporters to express their views peacefully and again, to refrain from violence,” said deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
Authorities swiftly went ahead with the execution despite widespread international appeals against the move, including from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The government carried out the execution in haste just before the general elections which are scheduled next month to show its authority and control.
“It’s an historic moment. Finally after four decades, the victims of the genocides of 1971 liberation war have got some justice,” deputy law minister Quamrul Islam told AFP.
“It’s the best gift for (the) nation as we celebrate the Victory Day on December 16,” he said, referring to the national day that marked Bangladesh’s independence war victory against Pakistan.
Abdul Qader Molla’s wife and children were allowed a final meeting with him at the prison hours before the execution, and found him to be calm.
“He told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of the Islamic movement in the country,” his son Hasan Jamil told AFP.
Shortly after the execution, Molla’s body was driven by police escort to his home village in central Faridpur district, where he was buried beside his parents’ graves in a pre-dawn service attended by around 300 people.
JI has called the execution a “political murder” and warned of revenge for “every drop” of Molla’s blood. Abdul Qader Molla was born in the village of Amirabad, Faridpur in 1948. He was an outstanding student and throughout achieved first class first positions. He was a prominent educationist. He was elected as the Vice President of Dhaka Journalists’ Union for two consecutive terms in 1982 and 1983.
There is a sharp divide in Bangladesh, thousands of secular protesters erupted in celebration as news of the execution came. After a trial by a much-criticized domestic tribunal, Molla was found guilty in February of having been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia which fought against the country’s independence and killed some of Bangladesh’s top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.
He was one of five Islamists and other politicians sentenced to death by a domestic court known as the International Crimes Tribunal, which the opposition says is aimed at eradicating its leaders.
The sentences have triggered riots and plunged the country into its worst violence since independence. Some 233 people have now been killed in street protests since January, when the verdicts were first handed down.
Sheikh Hasina’s government says three million people died in the 1971 war, many at the hands of pro-Pakistan militias led by Jamaat leaders who opposed secession from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on religious grounds.
On Tuesday, a five-member panel headed by Chief Justice M. Muzammel Hossain ruled that Mollah be put to death for his role during the war.
There are a lot of controversies in allegations against him. Even there were some fake witnesses who charged him for committing crimes.
JI is a key ally of the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, an archrival of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The government says the trials are being held according to international standards but the New York-based Human Rights Watch has raised questions about the impartiality of the tribunal. Hasina is playing with fire. This execution has revived old wounds that had almost healed. This may be the start of another revolution in Bangladesh.