Dhaka body lists `war criminals’ of 1971

April 4th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, April 4 (IANS) A research body in Bangladesh, tracking those who worked against the country’s freedom movement and killed unarmed civilians at the behest of the then Pakistan regime in 1971, has unveiled a list of what it calls “war criminals”. The list includes several top Bangladeshi politicians and Pakistani military officers.

The list, along with documents and witnesses, buttresses the ongoing demand for “trial for war crimes” for which the current caretaker government ruling the country last week approached the United Nations.

War Crimes Facts Finding Committee (WCFFC) Thursday released a list of 1,597 war criminals responsible for the mass killings, rapes and other atrocities during the Liberation War.

The Pakistani regime of military ruler Gen Yahya Khan ordered a crackdown in the then East Pakistan after elections gave winners of the east wing a majority. Atrocities were carried out between March and December 1971.

Of those on the list, 369 are members of Pakistan military and 1,238 are their local collaborators including members of Razakar and Al Badr (forces formed to aid the Pakistani authorities) and Peace Committee.

The list was not complete and more names would come with more evidence and documents, the committee told media Thursday, The Daily Star reported.

The list and evidence would be handed to the government and Election Commission to help them try the war criminals and disqualify them from elections. Besides, those would be circulated to the international community.

Four women who were tortured by the Pakistan forces were present.

While many have died in the 37 years that have elapsed, Bangladeshi ‘collaborators’ on the list and still alive mostly belong to Jamaat-e-Islami.

Some of them who were then involved in Muslim League and Nezam-e-Islam parties and are now leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiya Party, that have ruled the country at different times.

Despite the time-gap, the list reads like the who’s who in the present-day Bangladesh.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI)’s former Ameer (chief) Golam Azam, the present chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid figure on the list.

Both Nizami and Mojahid were ministers in the government of Khaleda Zia (2001-06).

Others on the list, now JeI leaders, are assistant secretaries General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and A.K.M. Yusuf. Central committee members Delawar Hussain Sayedee, Abdus Sobhan, Abul Kalam Muhammad Yusuf and Abdul Quader Molla are among the high-profile Jamaat leaders on the list.

Former BNP lawmakers Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Abdul Alim, and Anwar Zahid, a former minister during military ruler H.M. Ershad rule (1982-90), are also on the list that contains division- and thana-wise (police station) names of Razakar, Al Badr, and Peace Committee members.

“We have drawn up the list on the basis of field-level investigation, statements of eyewitnesses and victims, and examination of relevant documents for 17 long years,” said M.A. Hasan, convener of the committee dedicated to research on acts of genocide and atrocities committed in 1971.

He said they are ready to place all the necessary evidence and documents once the government forms a special tribunal to try the war criminals.

“We have prepared the list not to take revenge but to break the silence of impunity,” said Hasan.

Several Pakistanis figure on the list, many of whom are dead. They include the then military ruler, Gen A.M. Yahya Khan, Lt Gen Tikka Khan, who went on to become the Pakistan Army chief, governor and martial law administrator of the then East Pakistan, Maj Gen Khadim Hussain Raja, general officer commanding (GOC) of the then East Pakistan, Maj Gen Rao Forman Ali, adviser to governor of the then East Pakistan, Gen Abdul Hamid Khan, the then chief of staff of Pakistan army, Maj Gen A.O. Mittha Khan, Gen S.G.M. Pirjadah, Gen Iftekhar Janjua, Brig Jahanjeb Arbab and Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the then commander of Eastern Command, are among the Pakistan military personnel listed as war criminals. None of them are in service now.

Niazi surrendered with 93,000 soldiers, ending the war that made Bangladesh free.

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