Bangladesh: On The Shahbagh Movement Against War Criminals Of 1971

To see The Hindu slide show on the Shahbagh Movement, click on this link:

Shahbag: Bangladesh’s war against fundamentalism – The Hindu.

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Badruddin Umar

Bangladesh22 March, 2013
Courtesy: Countercurrents.org

Some young people gathered on the cross-roads of Shahbagh in Dhaka on February 5, 2013 , to protest against the judgment of t he International Crimes Tribunal ( ICT ) which sentenced Kader Mollah, a 1971 war criminal, to life imprisonment. They demanded capital punishment for Mollah and eight others who are now under trial in the ICT.

In many ways it was an extraordinary situation. First, this demand was being made to a war crimes tribunal which has been constituted for the first time after forty-two years since the end of the war of independence and the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. Second, the trial is being conducted only of some local collaborators of the then Pakistan government and the Pakistan army. The 195 Pakistani army officers who were initially identified as the principal war criminals and on whose bidding the collaborators committed their crimes, have been left out of this trial.

DSU poster for a Delhi University program on the Shahbagh Movement

DSU poster for a Delhi University program on the Shahbagh Movement

Today it seems amazing that in spite of the Bangladesh government’s occasionally demanding apology from Pakistan government for war crimes of 1971, a demand for the return of the 195 army criminals for trial in Bangladesh was never made. But the Awami League (AL) government under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had forgiven all the arrested Pakistani army personnel, including the 195 identified criminal army officers, and returned them to their country as a gesture of goodwill towards Pakistan ! In this case, in their own interest, India played the role of a decisive mediator. Referring to this gesture of goodwill Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ‘magnanimously’ declared that the people of Bangladesh knew how to forgive and forget.

Yet in spite of this, in fact false, declaration of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on behalf of the people of Bangladesh , the latter never forgot the atrocities committed against them, and they have always sought justice against the military and civilian war criminals who perpetrated every imaginable crime against them. Nothing could be a more conclusive proof of this than the movement for the proper trial and punishment of the 1971 war criminals which began on February 5.

A small number of young men and women started the movement, but almost immediately it began to spread like wildfire all over the country. The way it spread cannot be properly explained only in terms of peoples’ desire to try and punish the war criminals of 1971. In this connection it should be noted that the movement has started by a new generation of people who had no direct experience of Pakistani atrocities committed in 1971. They were not even born at that time. Thus the stirring which happened was caused by reasons other than the mere desire of the people to punish the war criminals, though at the surface nothing else was visible. It actually happened because the ground was prepared by what happened to the people of this country since the independence of Bangladesh.

During the independence movement and the war, the aspirations of the people were very high. But after independence the government led by Sheikh Mujib threw overboard what the people actually stood for and what they understood by the spirit of liberation war. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy on Indian-Pakistani war clouds and the ‘secret’ hanging of Afzal Guru

Does Your Bomb-Proof Basement Have An Attached Toilet?

Afzal Guru

Afzal Guru

An execution carried out to thundering war clouds

What are the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack, going to be? Does anybody know? The memo, in callous bureaucratese, with every name insultingly misspelt, sent by the Superintendent of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar, New Delhi, to “Mrs Tabassum w/o Sh Afjal Guru” reads:

“The mercy petition of Sh Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been rejected by Hon’ble President of India. Hence the execution of Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been fixed for 09/02/2013 at 8 am in Central Jail No-3.

This is for your information and for further necessary action.”

The mailing of the memo was deliberately timed to get to Tabassum only after the execution, denying her one last legal chanc­e—the right to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. Both Afzal and his family, separately, had that right. Both were thwarted. Even though it is mandat­ory in law, the memo to Tabassum ascribed no reason for the president’s rejection of the mercy petition. If no reason is given, on what basis do you appeal? All the other prisoners on death row in India have been given that last chance.

Since Tabassum was not allowed to meet her husband before he was hanged, since her son was not allowed to get a few last words of advice from his father, since she was not given his body to bury, and since there can be no funeral, what “further necessary action” does the jail manual prescribe? Anger? Wild, irreparable grief? Unquestioning acc­eptance? Complete integration?

After the hanging, there have been unseemly celebrations. The bereaved wives of the people who were killed in the attack on Parliament were displayed on TV, with M.S. Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and his ferocious moustaches playing the CEO of their sad little company. Will anybody tell them that the men who shot their husbands were killed at the same time, in the same place? And that those who planned the attack will never be brought to justice because we still don’t know who they are. Continue reading

In The US, Mass Child Killings Are Tragedies. In Pakistan, Mere Bug Splats

, The Guardian, Monday 17 December 2012
 
A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan 'have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears'. [A memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. The children killed by US drones in north-west Pakistan ‘have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and teddy bears’. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty.]

“Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why. Continue reading

In Pakistan, Drone Protest Takes Detour for Safety

Imran Khan speaking in the Pakistani town of Tank on Sunday during a rally against American drone strikes.The demonstration was originally intended for the tribal town of Kotkai.   A Majeed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By SALMAN MASOOD, New York Times,  October 7, 2012
TANK, Pakistan — Imran Khan, a cricket star turned opposition politician, abandoned plans to hold a much-heralded rally against American drone strikes at a village deep inside Pakistan’s tribal belt on Sunday after the Pakistani military warned him of “imminent danger” if he went ahead with the event.

Instead, Mr. Khan led a motorcade that included thousands of supporters and a contingent of American peace activists to the edge of the South Waziristan tribal agency, then returned to the town of Tank, 11 miles away, where he held his rally.

Mr. Khan’s supporters said their “peace march” offered a new focus for Pakistani anger over the Obama administration’s controversial drone campaign in Pakistan’s border areas, which has killed up to 3,300 people, including as many as 880 civilians, since 2004, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, which tracks drone strikes. Critics derided the event as little more than a political stunt that capitalized on widespread anti-Americanism in Pakistan and was intended to lift Mr. Khan’s wavering political fortunes.

Mr. Khan declared the rally a success despite the fact that it could not be held in South Waziristan, saying it highlighted the deaths of innocent civilians. “The response has been overwhelming,” he said in an interview. Continue reading

US Citizens to lead anti-drone march in northern Pakistan

Medea Benjamin in Tucson: “Obama’s Tuesday kill list responsible for assassination of 16-year-old from Denver”

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012

TUCSON — President Obama’s Tuesday kill list is responsible for the assassination of a 16-year-old boy from Denver, Medea Benjamin of CodePink said here today. Describing the US program of targeted assassinations using drones, the CIA out of control, and the US Congress refusing to act, Benjamin said it is time for US citizens to show the world they do not support US drone assassinations in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Benjamin called for citizens in Tucson to join the march with Pakistanis in northern Pakistan, during the week of September 21, and show the world that the people of the US seek global peace and understanding, and do not support US drone killings.”President Obama signs off on the kill list,” Benjamin said, speaking at a public gathering in the downtown Tucson library.

Obama meets with his advisers on Tuesday to review the list. “They decide who will live and who will die,” Benjamin said. Any male on the ground of military age is considered fair game.

She said that in a signature strike, drone operators manning the computer screens can fire at anything that looks suspicious, on the other side of the world, without the suspect being given a chance to surrender, or defend themselves against charges.

Benjamin, author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,” described the drone warfare that has killed both the US Constitution and innocent people, including children and teens, in Pakistan and Yemen.

During the Bush administration, drone strikes were every 40 days. During the Obama administration, the drone strikes increased to 1 every 3 days. Currently, there is a drone strike every 4 days.

US drone killing in western Pakistan.

Those drone strikes have killed 175 children. Few US citizens ever see the photos of those children who are disintegrated or burned by those drones. Sometimes only pieces of their flesh can be found for burial. A drone’s victim never hears the missile that kills him or her.

Benjamin described how one teenager, Tariq Aziz, attempted to take the case of a relative killed by a US drone to court in Pakistan. After meeting with attorneys, Tariq was assassinated by a US drone.

Benjamin pointed out that this type of US killing is counter-productive and driving people in other countries toward extremists out of despair and desperation.

Anwar Al-Awlaki was a 16-year-old from Denver. He was on Facebook and his friends said he was a normal teen, not interested in politics, who enjoyed rap and hip hop. He was enjoying an evening sharing a meal with his cousin in his family’s home village in Yemen, when he and his cousin were assassinated by a US drone strike.

Obama refuses to respond to questions about the US drone killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki of Denver.

“Barack Obama is responsible for this killing,” Benjamin said.

The US drone operations have been largely kept secret until now and operated by the CIA and Joint Special Operations. Continue reading

Pakistan: CIA Drones Kill Large Groups Without Knowing Who They Are

November 4, 2011

  • Drone warfare-The expansion of the CIA’s undeclared drone war in the tribal areas of Pakistan required a big expansion of who can be marked for death. Once the standard for targeted killing was top-level leadership in al-Qaeda or one of its allies. That’s long gone, especially as the number of people targeted at once has grown.This is the new standard, according to a blockbuster piece in the Wall Street Journal: “men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known.” The CIA is now killing people without knowing who they are, on suspicion of association with terrorist groups. The article does not define the standards are for “suspicion” and “association.”

Strikes targeting those people — usually “groups” of such people — are called “signature” strikes. “The bulk of CIA’s drone strikes are signature strikes,” the Journal’s Adam Entous, Siobhan Gorman and Julian E. Barnes report.

And bulk really means bulk. The Journal reports that the growth in clusters of people targeted by the CIA has required the agency to tell its Pakistani counterparts about mass attacks. When the agency expects to kill 20 or more people at once, then it’s got to give the Pakistanis notice.

Determining who is a target not a question of intelligence collection. The cameras on the CIA fleet of Predators and Reapers work just fine. It’s a question of intelligence analysis — interpreting the imagery collected from the drones, and from the spies and spotters below, to understand who’s a terrorist and who, say, drops off the terrorists’ laundry. Admittedly, in a war with a shadowy enemy, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.

Fundamentally, though, it’s a question of policy: whether it’s acceptable for the CIA to kill someone without truly knowing if he’s the bombsmith or the laundry guy.

The Journal reports that the CIA’s willingness to strike without such knowledge — sanctioned, in full, by President Barack Obama — is causing problems for the State Department and the military. Continue reading