Bangladesh News (Voice of the Bangladeshis in Australia)/Dec 16, 1999
Registered as a newspaper in Victoria
Level 10, 459 Little Collins St, Melbourne Vic 3000, Australia
Naming The Names –Introducing The War Criminals (By: Ahmed Ziauddin)
When on 17th April 1973 the Government, for the first time, announced its decision to try 195 Pakistani Prisoners of War for serious crimes, it became clear that it had abandoned its earlier absurd policy to try all Pakistani soldiers and their collaborators. Rhetoric political statement was replaced by pragmatic policy.
The Government, it was revealed, screened these individuals following a special investigation commissioned to identify the major war criminals. This report was never made public, nor the names of the 195 principal planners and executioners of Bangladesh genocide.
In a number of articles on Bangladesh genocide, and in seminars, I have urged publication of that report, which, at least, would reveal the names of the alleged criminals for others to pursue. Although we had fairly good idea about the people involved, but it was rather difficult, until now, to be absolutely certain about the existence of the report.
Recently, sources at Muktijuddher Jadughar, an unique organisation in Bangladesh that devotes itself exclusively on Bangladesh genocide and liberation war, has supplied some documents, which appears to be the long lost report, or at least its part, on the principal war criminals.
This article intends to virtually reproduce the materials, but before its done, a brief background to refresh our memories.
Pakistani soldiers lost on 16th day of Deceber 1971 its eastern part; despite their freehand in prosecuting genocidal war against largely unarmed Bangalee population, hundreds and thousands of its best fighters too surrendered to the Allied Command. Lt.Gen.Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi led his soldiers to put down the arms which were henceforth freely used to keep Pakistan’s integrity. Bangladesh was born and Pakistan disintegrated.
The Government of Bangladesh that led the war of liberation from exile returned to its capital following Pakistan’s defeat. The new government held its first cabinet meeting in liberated Dacca on 23rd December 19971 and was reported that 89.000 regulars of the Pakistan Army have surrendered in Bangladesh and five thousand of them had already been removed to India.
The Home Minister, Mr.A.H.M.Kamruzzaman, declared on 24th December, 1971 that the collaborators would not escape from justice, and a large number of collaborators, including former Governor, Dr.A.M.Malik, and Members of his Cabinet, were officially reported to have been taken in custody.
On 31st December 1971, the cabinet decided to set up an Inquiry Committee to probe into the dimension and extent of genocide committed by the Pakistani army in Bangladesh. The Prime Minister asked the MCAs and Awami League workers to submit data regarding genocide. A Presidential Order providing for the setting up of special tribunals to try collaborators of the Pakistan armed forces was issued.
The Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, declared on 29th January 1972 that his government would not forgive those who were guilty of genocide in Bangladesh. Accordingly, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, the Government decided to set up two tribunals – one for the trial of persons accused of genocide and another for the trial of war criminals.
After the withdrawal in March 1972 of the Indian Army from Bangladesh, the Indian Prime Minister arrived in Dacca. In the public meeting on 17th March at Suhrawardy Uddyan attended by Mrs.Indira Gandhi, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared that the Pakistani Prisoners of War would be handed over to Bangladesh for trial.
The Government then appointed Mr.S.R.Pal and Mr.Serajul Haque (MCA) as Chief Government Prosecutors of the War Crimes Tribunals to try the Pakistani Prisoners of War accused of genocide. Indira Gandhi then on 12th July told in New Delhi that she considered war crimes trial issue to be bilateral matter between Bangladesh and Pakistan. On the eve of the first Victory Day anniversary on 16th December 1972, the Prime Minister reiterated that the trial of war criminals in Bangladesh would be held
Regardless of Government’s repeated pronouncement, the government soon realised impossibility of putting surrendered thousands of Pakistani Army personnel to trial, and on 17th April 1973 announced its decision to try 195 Pakistani Prisoners of War for serious crimes.
(The writer teaches Law at Brussels Catholic University and heads, Bangladesh Centre For Genocide Studies).