Here is a must-read article by Philip Hensher in The Independent on the Bangladesh Genocide. Here is an extract:
At a meeting on 22 February 1971, the Pakistani President General Yahya Khan is recorded as saying in fury: “Kill three million of them, and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Ten million fled to India; 30 million left the cities and went to the villages.
In the first phase of the war, young men and Hindus, Awami League members, intellectuals, students and academics were targeted for murder. In the second phase of the war, women were singled out. It is thought that at least 200,000 women were raped by the Pakistani forces and their collaborators – 25,000 victims found themselves pregnant, so that is not implausible. There are eyewitness accounts of “rape camps” set up by the Pakistani forces. The numbers, and the names of rape victims, remain disputed. Sheikh Mujib, the first leader of Bangladesh, ordered the destruction of lists so that the shame would not follow the victims all their lives.
In the last week of the war, when Pakistani defeat was inevitable and a new nation was clearly about to be born, a concerted effort was made to kill as many intellectual leaders as possible, many between 12 and 14 December. The names of potential leaders of the future nation to be murdered were found in the diary of at least one Pakistani officer.
Bengali collaborators in the form of armed vigilante groups, Al-Shams and Al Badr, took the lead in these murders, only two days before the war came to an inevitable end.
It is impossible to know the real death toll. The historian R J Rummel, who has looked as deeply into it as anyone, concludes that the “final estimate of Pakistan’s democide to be 300,000 to 3,000,000, or a prudent 1,500,000.”
This is one of the great unpunished war crimes of the last century. Hensher – like me – opposes the call for the death penalty to be carried out, which he calls a “counsel of despair”. He concludes:
What is the solution? Serious doubts have been raised about aspects of the trials, and the death penalty cannot be the right solution. But life imprisonment in Bangladesh for the mass murderers commands no respect.
There is one further possibility: the Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor was not imprisoned in Liberia, but under the provisions of the ICC in The Hague. The intervention of international law-makers ought to be desirable, and to take murderers out of the control of national politicians. That might permit, too, the trial of the main war criminals, and not just their Bangladeshi collaborators.
The Bangladesh atrocities are too important to go on being manipulated when a government changes. It seems as if this convulsive national exorcism, if it is to achieve justice, must take place in the eyes of the world, and with the world’s input. For the rest of us, we have averted our eyes for too long. We have a duty to learn about this forgotten genocide, and face our own responsibilities squarely – not to shelter murderers, not to ignore, not to forget.
There is this important passage in the article:
The current trials have operated under constant threats of violence from a still active Jamaat-e-Islami. Some war criminals fled abroad. As long ago as 1995, the British authorities had their attention brought to alleged war criminals living in London by a Channel 4 documentary directed by the Dhaka journalist David Bergman. One, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who has been working as an NHS administrator, is only now beginning to be brought to justice.
Mueen-Uddin stands accusedof involvement in genocide in Bangladesh, and was allegedly a member of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Al Badr militia which abducted and murdered prominent Bangladeshi intellectuals during the War of Liberation.
He then came to Britain, where he established the Islamic Foundation Europe, and established his clique of genocidaires at the East London Mosque: which according to a pamphlet published by the Department of Communities and Local Government explains, the East London Mosque is “the key institution for the Bangladeshi wing of [Jamaat-e-Islami] in the UK”.
The East London Mosque and its associated London Muslim Centre is now one of Britain’s most important bases for hate preachers who target Jews and Gays, supporters of Hamas, and admirers of the Al Qaeda preacher Anwar Al Awlaki. Indeed, the London Muslim Centre has been the site of a number of rallies, in support of those accused of horrific war crimes against Bangaldeshis. The roster of speakers this event in October 2011 reads like a who’s who of Britain’s extremist scene: boasting guest appearances by the disgraced agent provocateur and former police officer, Bob Lambert; CagePrisoners’ Moazzam Begg, and the son of the former deputy “Amir” of Jamaat e Islami Pakistan, and head of the Jamaat-dominated Muslim Council of Britain.
This institution has received about £3 million worth of public funds in the last five years. It hosts visits from American Ambassadors, the Lord Chief Justice, the Mayor of London, various Bishops, and a host of clueless and vicars and rabbis who get into a huff when you point out that their chief function is to provide a veneer of respectability to an institution dominated my men who – forty years ago – sliced off the breasts of women who they then murdered, to punish them for the affrontery of preferring an independent secular democracy to an Islamist state, in union with Pakistan.
While the supporter of Jamaat e Islami physically attack protesters in East London, the East London Mosque and the Islamic Forum Europe have been gifted political influence by the Labour Party-aligned London Citizens movement, of which these institutions are founding members. Its deputy chair and trustee is Junaid Ahmed, a Hamas supporter who represents the East London Mosque.
Moreover, the Islamic Forum Europe/East London Mosque machine were behind the campaign which won Lutfur Rahman a job as Mayor of Tower Hamlets. As well as using his position to fund various Jamaat e Islami linked “community groups” in East London, he also spent £100,000 of public money, attempting to discipline an opposition councillor for participating in Andrew Gilligan’s “Dispatches” programme, which exposed the extremist politics of his supporters.
Bangladesh is finally bringing these fascists and murderers to justice. But in Britain, they’ve wormed their way right into the heart of the British establishment.