Space For Rent

Space For Rent

Clandestine killings in the Bangladesh Army Anwar Kabir
Publish Date : 2014-01-12,  Publish Time : 22:08,  View Count : 24
Excerpts from the author's forthcoming book 'Genocide in the Bangladesh Army (1976-1981)'. This is the ninth installment in the series.
Accordingly only General Manzur and I could be tried. The others could not be. And as General Manzur had been killed and there was no witness against me there was hardly any basis for a trial. Although it was a mock trial there ought to be have been some pretense of a trial, which should have included a few false witnesses, as well. Our defense argued: they cannot be tried as they have surrendered before the expiry of the deadline. Brigadier Wahid was beckoned from Dhaka. He was the director of military intelligence.
He said, no. This was just "psychological" warfare. We had made this appeal through the chief to demoralise the mutiny. But nobody can be spared because of that. Later, it was observed that these people were not spared but two others were past the worst. One of them was Dost Mohammad and another was Major Qayyum. After Dost Mohammad surrendered, it was announced on Radio and TV and so was the case with Major Qayyum. Major Qayyum also underwent trial and was convicted. Dost Mohammad did not face trial.
But Qayyum faced trial and was convicted. For some strange reason he was released and went abroad. During the trial, our defense tore down the witnesses and proved that their testimony did not fall within the purview of the court and that their statement did not prove us guilty. I still remember Col. Zillur Rahman, he was the commanding officer of 11 Bengal. General Manzur had once closed Col. Zillur for corruption. (General Manzur could never tolerate corruption. He was a very honest and dedicated officer. He had a great role during the Liberation War. He was awarded the highest gallantry award, "Bir Uttam".
He was a major then. The Pakistan Army was gathering at Shiromoni, after coming out of the Jessore Cantonment. General Manzur, along with Major Jalil, had surrounded the Pakistani troops on all sides and forced them to surrender. They had tanks with them. General Manzur had two SLRs (Self-Loading Rifles) in two hands and he was firing them off, as he walked into the tank formation. This is also known as the Shiromoni Tank Battle.
This Battle is taught in many countries as a classic example of a tank battle.) Zillur had taken some money, personally, showing it as battalion account. When he was in the witness box our defense had proved him to be a corrupt person and a thief. And it was said, that his testimony was not acceptable. Similarly they could prove, one by one, that none of the witnesses were credible. They could not prove us to be guilty. Those who were forced to confess their guilt:  Brigadier Mohsin, Col. Mahfuz, Major Mujib, Colonel Delwar--- the witnesses against them could not stand.
That's why they were tortured and forced to sign confessions which proved them guilty. The statement that I had given was not even produced in court. When I told our defense, Col. Ainuddin and Lt. Col. Ibrahim that they weren't saying anything to defend me, they replied, nothing is being said against you, so what is there to refute. General Chisti and then Col. Amsa Amin represented the prosecution. They did not seem to be serious about the case. Because they were sure whatever they did, the outcome would be the some. That's why despite a strong showing by our defense, the result was negative. One day the court closed, suddenly. Why was the court closed? The prosecution said, all of us should be hanged and our defense said all of us should be freed. And finally, they mentioned my name and said there is no witness against him, how can you punish him? He has to be released. Our defense also mentioned Gen. Ershad's statement.
They brought in Cassettes. General Rahman said, this will not do. When General Rahman was told our people have been tortured. He was told you can see that opening the shirts. He said, no, no, why should I open their shirts? The court chairman said they could've fought among themselves. He asked if there were any witnesses to the DGFI torture. There was only one witness - Brigadier Ashraf the one who had done it, i.e., the torturers would bear witness to their torture. But will they admit it? They came to the Jail and took them away without any documents.
They were blind-folded and taken to the DGFI torture cells. There they were tortured and forced to sign statements that's all. Now they've been put on the dock. The worst thing was when General Chisty was showing his thumbs and saying, it is pointless, whatever you say, is worthless. What is going to happen will happen, anyway say whatever you want to say. When he was saying this loudly in the presence of the chairman, the so-called chairman, of the court, nobody took any action against it. And those who had tortured us, stood defiantly, in court.
Those who were brought in as witnesses, if they deviated, they were tortured again. They were gradually subdued and brought to testify. Even after that our defense made mince meat of their statements. However, when the radio announcement was mentioned, the court said they would not accept it. If you want to submit it as evidence, you have to get an official version of it from the Radio or TV authorities. Our defense applied for time to produce it. But the court was adjourned. It was closed. That was the end of it. We were waiting it will come and we will appear before the court, again. But the court was never in session, again.
Suddenly we saw, we were being taken away in groups of five. One day we: Brigadier Mohsin, Major Momin, Major Mujib, Captain Elias and I were  taken away. We were blind-folded, our hands were hand-cuffed behind our backs, our legs chained with a rod in the middle. We were produced, similarly, in court. We still had hand-cuffs and chains in our legs. The hands were tied like this. How long can you keep your hands like this?
We suffered a lot. We had repeatedly requested the court to let us, at least, bring our hands forward. They did not allow us to do it. When they refused, we used to bring our hands forth by putting them between the legs- with great effort. The court used to be annoyed, sometime, but we did not care. We were taken to Chittagong Airport by a vehicle. At the airport we were taken to a helicopter. The helicopter rose into the sky.
I remember, after the helicopter was airborne, they were playing a romantic Hindi song of those days, Nuri ki ajare, Nuri, Nuri, Nuri. (Come my darling, Nuri). My eyes were blindfolded, my hands tied but I was listening to the song. The copter was flying. I asked them a number of times, where are you taking us? Nobody replied. After flying from Chittagong the helicopter stopped somewhere. I asked them, where are we? They replied, sorry, sir, we can't talk. I tore away the blind fold and saw that we were at Dhaka Airport. Quickly, they said, what, sir, what are you doing? And they blind-folded me, again. Later, the copter rose again. We were taken to Rajshahi. We were dropped at Rajshahi Police Lines and later taken to the Jail, there. Inside the jail our blind folds were taken off. Meaning that even before the end of the trial, the verdict of the trial, we were shifted. The five of us were sent to the condemned cells, once again. Each one in a separate cell.
Major Mujib was in the cell, next to me. After Major Mujib was Captain Elias. After him was Brigadier Mohsin. And after him Major Momin. This was the row. Our hand-cuffs were removed but the iron chains on our legs remained. A few days later an Army officer arrived. He was of the rank of Major. But I don't know his name. Inside the cells, we had two blankets: one, we used for sleeping; the other, we used as a pillow. The major handed me a piece of paper. I could see it was a verdict. It said that I had been convicted to 14 years Rigorous Imprisonment(R.I.). Below it I could see that the Army chief had reduced the 14 years to 10. I can't be imprisoned for 10 years! I thought, may be, it is 10 months.
I still remember telling General Ainuddin in Chittagong during the trial, why aren't you telling anything on behalf of me. He replied, there is no witness against you. You will go scot-free. Even then if they do take some action against you, it will not be 10 or 8 years in jail, in the worst case, you may be dismissed from service. If they sentence you, may be you will have to spend a year in jail. If they do so, an application should be enough to rectify it. You just have to do something nominal. That is the worst that can happen to you. There is nothing more that can happen to you. He said all that. After seeing 10 years I said there must be something wrong here. It must be years, inadvertently. The major was walking away after giving it to me. I shouted out to him from behind the grill, Mr. Major, come here. I told him, there must be something wrong, somewhere.
This must be 10 months not years. He then replied, no. No. This is alright. I was surprised. I thought if I'm condemned to 10 years in jail what about the others? Those who were forced to sign false statements! Major Mujib lived next to me. I asked Mujib, what's the news? Mujib replied, capital punishment. Then, I raised my voice, a little, and asked Elias what about you? Elias said, sir, I have been awarded capital punishment and then he rectified himself: sir, the court had given me capital punishment but the Army chief has confirmed it as 14 years in jail. Then Brigadier Mohsin: sir, what's the news for you? Death by hanging. I observed that three of the five have been awarded capital punishment. And Elias had been awarded capital punishment but it had been reduced to 14 years R. I. and I had been sentenced to 14 years R. I. which was reduced to 10 years R.I. I then said if they have been awarded capital punishment, 10 years in jail for me is understandable. We remained in this state.
After the verdict our iron chains were taken off, as we were spared the gallows. And those who were to be executed remained in chains. We remained. We heard that our family members had appealed against the verdict in the higher courts. Not only them, I believe, there was a country wide movement against the selective killing of the freedom fighters. But no judge responded to the call of humanity. And Elias and I were sent to the wards. Officers are taken to the prison ward; to the ward for classified prisoners. As we were class 1 gazetted officers we were being treated as class 1 prisoners. So we were to be taken. We said, no, we will remain with our friends and see what happens to them, finally.
We did not go. But suddenly one day they came and took us away. They said we cannot keep you here. We suspected they may be hanged that day. Anyway, we embraced them and cried and finally left. We were lodged in the Khapra Ward of Rajshahi Jail. Everyday when the sweeper came, we used to collect information about them from him. The sweeper used to say, everything's alright; no problem (with them). On the morning of 23 September we were waiting in the morning for the sweeper. He was not coming for a long, long time. After a while, the jail subedar- Subedar Mozammel came. I asked him, what's the news, why didn't the sweeper come? He replied, he will come. May be a little later. I asked him, what was happening. He replied, there is no problem. Everything's fine. Then, he walked away, briskly. He didn't tell us anything. I saw the helicopter arriving; it stopped somewhere and a few minutes later, flew off again. What's the matter? I saw the Havildar (junior warrant officer), who was in charge of the Army personnel inside the jail, came to our ward. We asked him, Mr. Havildar, what's the matter? What about them? The havildar then said, let's go inside the room. We entered the room. He said, sit. We sat. What did the havildar do? He caught hold of our hands and said, sir, forgive them. And then he started crying. We, too, were crying, unabated.
Then he said, yes, they have been executed and the helicopter took away Major Mujib's corpse. A little later, the jail subedar came. Brigadier Mohsin had a book which I had lent him. There were a few other things also. He had requested them to be sent to me. I have kept the book because inside the book, Brigadier Mohsin had written a note of farewell to me. He had written in the book and through it he had bade farewell to me. He had written: Reza, Khoda Hafez. The (final) call has come, I'm leaving. Allah has taken me to him in time. It is 1:35 a.m. now, the 23rd of September, 1981. Mohsin." Brigadier Mohsin left. He was hanged, I remained in prison.
After that I was transferred to Comilla, Dhaka, et al and seven years passed. Sometimes prisoners were released on Victory Day: one such announcement came. I filed a writ (in the High Court) and was released. I came out after being imprisoned for seven years. After that I requested all possible quarters. But nothing happened. Finally, when we realised there is no place for us, i.e., we cannot go to court, we then approached the parliamentary committee. General Ershad was in power when we came out of gaol. After the restoration of democracy we approached the parliamentary (standing) committee. I had petitioned for myself and my argument was there is no evidence or witness against me, why shouldn't I be entitled to compensation for my sufferings and full pension and other service benefits?
They agreed but till today that was yet to be implemented. Interestingly, the trial of Zia's killing which was to be held in a civil court was suspended. By suspending it, they organised the mock trial to protect the real killers of Zia by executing the witnesses of the case. Because when the final investigation of the Zia murder case was submitted after the general elections of 2001, I and five others were omitted because of a lack of evidence and witness. In '81 we were punished for a crime that proved to be false in a civil court. Since then we have been campaigning for justice, relentlessly. We, unfortunately, have been denied of it, so far. And the mystery of Zia's murder has also not been unraveled. My regret is that I've spent seven years in jail, for what (crime)? Nobody could give me a proper answer.

Lt Col. SIM Nurunnabi Khan, Bir Bikram (Retd.)
Dismissed and imprisoned on charges of organising the Army mutiny of 1980.

Between 1975 and 1981 many officers and many more soldiers lost their jobs in the Bangladesh Army for alleged involvement in coup de tats. Lt. Col. Nurun Nabi Khan, Bir Bikram, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and lost his job in the Army on 20 May 1981 for allegedly trying to overthrow the (duly constituted) government and misleading the soldiers of the Army. We will hear from him, what actually happened.
Discontent in the Armed Forces merged soon after independence. The Armed Forces personnel were also unhappy at the formation of the Para-military Jatiya Rakkhi Bahini (JRB). Between August 1973 to the first week of August 1976 I was in England, attending a staff college course. The biggest thing to happen, meanwhile, was the killing of Bangabandhu. After that another incident happened involving Col. Taher. Taher and I had fought together during the Liberation War in sector 11. I returned to the country soon after Col. Taher's execution.
After that a number of coup de tats happened. I was involved with one or rather; I was accused of being involved in one. Some say that after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 17 to 22 coup de tats took place. In reality, most of them were staged. According to Army rules and the Geneva Convention prisoners of wars are never taken back into active service. But we have allowed it. Those who had come back from (the then) west Pakistan, as repatriates, was given jobs in the Army. This is in violation of the Geneva Convention. Inducting them led to two groups within the Army: Freedom fighters vs. repatriated. The repatriates outnumbered us, as freedom fighter officers were few.
So the vital posts went to them. But they were unhappy as freedom fighters were given two years seniority. They had to salute the freedom fighters who were their course mates. They abhorred it. The groups were almost open and became acute, so they created a blue-print to eliminate the freedom fighters. Possibly, ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of the elimination process, the coup de tats were staged. Often the discussions in a drawing room were portrayed as an effort to organize a coup de tat. And Ziaur Rahman by his policies including the killing of Bangabandhu alienated the freedom fighters. He made Shah Azizur Rahman, prime minister. He was a renowned Razakar (collaborator), who had represented Pakistan at the United Nations during the Liberation War. To the best of my knowledge, I had sent 42 freedom fighters from Mehedipur and Chobra camps to Joypurhat; of them I had dysentery and had gone out to defected, only they survived.
The writer is a journalist.

 The rest 40 were caught and they were tied to a late tree and publicly bayoneted. And it was done by a man called Abdul Alim.  Zia made him a minister, too. Similarly, my Roumari was a liberated gone. In this free gone, the person who conducted operations against me, on behalf of the Pakistanis, was known as "Mukul Commander." Commander meaning Razakar commander and he was better known as Mukul commander in 1971. One day Ziaur Rahman came to my Roumari and said Nurunnabi where did you get all this tin (corrugated iron sheets) in this shoal? I replied, sir, I've dismantled it from the two double storied tin-sheds of Mukul commander. Our people are developing leg soars from the water in the bunkers. So I've seized the tin steets. This "Mukul Commander's" real name was AKM Mayeedul Islam Mukul. He was the son of Abul Kashem, once the secretary of the (Pakistan) Muslim League's parliamentary group. Mukul was also made a minister. Moshiur Rahman, Jadu Miah, went to India and came back. He did not stay with (his leader) Moulana Bhashani. He returned and collaborated with the Pakistanis. He was made senior minister. Because of these reasons, freedom fighters became increasingly annoyed with Ziaur Rahman although he was a fellow freedom fighter. And when he sidelined many deserving freedom fighters and made a scoundrel like Ershad the chief of staff it was just too much. Ershad had visited Bangladesh, thrice, after the (Pakistan) Army crackdown of 25 March 1971. Even when the Army cracked down, Ershad was vacationing in his home at Rangpur. He could've joined the Liberation War (like many other vacationing Army officers) on the 25th or 26th of March. He did not. On the contrary, he went and reported to the cantonment, which was only half-a- kilometer from his house. He came to Dhaka by Army helicopter and left for Pakistan. After that he came, thrice, to collect intelligence, on behalf of the Pakistanis, in 1971. He was made Army chief. Apart from intelligence (DGFI) was awarded to another repatriated, Mohabbat Jan Chowdhury. He was Zia's class mate. This created an adverse reaction among the freedom fighters. Nobody liked it. So they went on creating the much coup de tats to eliminate the freedom fighters. I was accused of leading one such coup de tat. There was an officer called Didar and some others, the first four charges were against me, three of them had capital punishment as the minimum sentence. Either by firing or by hanging. One was under section 55. There is no punishment under it. One can be warned. But once arrested, handcuffed and sent to the DGFI cell, there has to be punishment. I was lucky. The only court martial which was a field general court martial, where lawyers from outside, were allowed. It was a trial case. To study the impact of allowing civilian lawyers when they are allowed in a court martial. My lawyer was Advocate Aminul Huq, who later became Attorney General (of Bangladesh), Gaziul Huq, the language movement veteran and Sirajul Huq. All of them had volunteered to be of service, free of cost. Sirajul Huq defended Didar, especially; I was to be defended by Aminul Huq and Gaziul Huq, mainly. They had prepared the court martial papers, early on. They had set down the dates of the meetings that were purportedly held, what happened the charge sheet had been framed. I also had a defending officer from the Army. Mahabub Elahi Chowdhury was working as the attorney for the prosecution. My name could not be found anywhere. Didar had fled to India. He was arrested and interrogated on his return. They asked him, who was your coup leader? He said, Nurunnabi. What would Nurunnabi be, if you had been successful? And what would you be? Nurunnabi would have been the president and I would have been the Army chief. They did not believe it. Later, they involved General Manzur with it. It was done under his direction. And all officers of the first and second SS (they were recruited by the Bangladesh government in-exile during the Liberation War) were accused of involvement. I said it in court then and so did my lawyer, Aminul Huq, the papers are still with me. It is nothing. It is an attempt to eliminate the freedom fighters. As part of the process, my coup was stage managed and so was many after it. Many Army officers were killed in such stage managed coup de tats. For instance, soon after staging a coup de tat in Bogra in 1977 a Japanese aeroplane was hijacked to Dhaka and an uprising was organized. This, too, was a stage managed soldiers' revolution. I've heard it myself senior generals had worn the ranks of JCOs and NCOs and trial to instigate a stage managed coup de tat to test if then was any germ, any revolutionary germ, in the Army and about it. Many JCOs and NCOs and common soldiers were killed through so-called mass tribunals after that. There were many incidents (I was 1 year in prison then) where they refused to go to the gallows. Because he does not know anything. A fishing net was thrown over him and he was netted and taken to the gallows. Even then they shouted, Allah, aren't you there? I'm innocent. I don't know anything. Why should I be hanged? Where are you? There are even incidents where the convicted was moving around his heard and the head remained and the body fell. There were many such incidents. This kind of mass- tribunal, mass- killing this was it! The verdicts were written before the trial. A minute or two: what's your name? Father's name? Rank? Unit? This was enough to convict a person to death. This was the kind of courts they organized. This was inhuman, misanthropic and in total violation of basic human rights. Nobody had any opportunity to defend themselves in such court martial. They choose who will be my lawyer. He will follow their instructions as he is in service. And the worst part is our civil courts do not admit such cases. Not even the Supreme Court. They say, oh, dear these are Army matters! The law needs to be changed and also our mindset. Those who work in the Army are human beings citizens of this country they, too, have rights. He, too, has right to get justice. But in the Defense Forces there is no scope for it. The constitution should include it. Human rights should be equally applicable for them.
In all coups freedom fighter officers were executed, discussed. There is not a single incident where a repatriated officer has been executed or dismissed. During the Chittagong incident many repatriated officers were posted there. But nobody lost their job or was hanged. Who suffered? Freedom fighters. All coup de tats in Bangladesh including that of the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was pre-planned. And freedom fighters were the victims. Those who were involved with Hitler during the Second world war they are being trial even now. Some of them are 90, others so many of them were in hiding for 50 years. Even then they are being hunted down and tried.

Here, there are some who say forget the past. But that is not true, the past is true. All coup de tats of Bangladesh should be investigated, reinvestigated. Commissions should be set up for all of them, if necessary; lawyers from abroad, who specialize on human rights issues, should be hired, and a commission formed a truth commission to investigate into all the incidents.

Lt General M. Haroon -Ur-Rashid (Retd.), Bir Pratik former chief of staff, Bangladesh Army.
I'm Lt. General M. Haroon-ur-Rashid, Bir Pratik, retired, former chief of staff of the Bangladesh Army. I was commissioned in 1970 in the Pakistan Army after graduating from the Pakistan Military Academy. I was lucky to observe the great mass-awakening, soon after I joined the Army. Very soon this uprising through many ups and downs turned into the Liberation war of 1971. On the morning of 27 March 1971 we deserted the Pakistan Army and announced our loyalty to the Bangladesh Forces. We imprisoned the Pakistani officers and launched our war. The government awarded me the "Bir Pratik" award for my endeavors during the Liberation war. After the war we were engaged in rebuilding the Army and building it up as a symbol of national sovereignty. In 1975 the worst chapter in the country's history occurred. Bangabandhu and his entire family were assassinated on the 15th of August, 1975. After the killing morale in the Army feel and it became so bad that nobody could even say anything against it. On 3rd November 1975 a coup de tat led by Khaled Mosharraf occurred against it. Its aim was to restore the chain of command in the Army and to bring those outside it within its structure. Amidst all this 7th November occurred. As a result a number of soldiers and officers lost their lives without any reason. Those who came to power on 7th November rewarded the coup makes of 15th August. They were awarded high posts and some were giving foreign postings, meanwhile, a move was on to destroy the spirit of the Liberation war. Many officers and soldiers were given death sentences, different terms in prison or were dismissed on flimsy grounds. These punishments were usually given through mock court martials. In other words, from then on the process of undisciplined termination, jail sentence of such a type was the execution of a valiant freedom fighter, Col. Abu Taher, Bir Uttam. One has to remember that his death sentence was also given through a court martial. But the rules for setting up such a court that exists in the Army was not followed nor were the proceedings published. Some fictitious charges were brought against him and when the court martial was in session, it was whispered in the Army that he will be executed. Later that proved to be true. When a law is violated it goes on repeating it self. This became the norm for the Bangladesh Army, henceforth. One can clearly see from the court martials held afterwards in which many officers were given the capital punishment, did not follow any rules and the verdicts were dictated. In the Zia Murder Case, 12 officers and later another officer, that makes it 13, were executed. Such a big court martial involving the death of the president and so many officers were completed in only 18 days the charge , the inquiry, deposition and cross examination of) witnesses, argument analysis and verdict. And the speed at which the government endorsed the verdict was all very surprising. If they are guilty, what is the harm in trying them in an open court martial? And why can't they be defended, properly? Between 1975 and 1977 many court martials were organized. But nobody knows how many people were killed as a result. I was a mid-ranking officer then. Even I could not know what was going on because the court martials were held, on- camera. In 1977, a number of incidents happened. You probably remember that in Bogra, what was known as 22 Bengal, revolted and in Dhaka the Air Force revolted. All this taken together, the Army went through an indiscipline period then. This was an anarchic period for us. After '77 some discipline was restored among the soldiers but some discontent simmered. The result was the killing of Ziaur Rahman in 1981. After the killing of Ziaur Rahman indiscipline ensued again but his assassination cannot be called a coup de tat. Because it was widely believed in the Army that those who were in command of the Army then through a planned organization killed him.  It was like killing two birds with the same store. Ziaur Rahman was killed and those who were accused of doing so, a huge population, were either killed or terminated from service. We observe that after the killing, 13 officers were executed through a verdict of a sham court martial in a span of 18 days. How is it possible? Secondly, those charged, were they given a fair chance to defend themselves? The accused 31 officers were given only 3 officers to defend, although it is clearly written in the Army rules that each person will get adequate opportunity to defend himself. How can 3 officers defend 31 officers?
During my years in the Army I had many such questions for officer I could not find an answer, so I don't expect my countrymen to find one. Soon after independence, the situation can be pretty unstable, which may result in undesirable consequences for some or many but as a nation we must be clear to our conscience. If that is to be done, we need to know, what really happened? Who were the real culprits? And how they were killed. For this, we can take lessons from other countries. I think, the best example is South Africa. They have organized a truth commission. I believe because of it nobody can raise any questions regarding apartheid era or the transition. I believe the many questions we have: what happened then? How did it happen? Was its inquiry completed? All these need to be answered, as it is our national and ethical responsibility. And this can be done by establishing a neutral truth commission at the national level. In the post 1975 situation the desire of some Army bosses to fulfill their desires by violating the law that resulted in the death of many officers and soldiers needs to be rectified. Till today, their families, many of them, do not know what happened to them as their corpses were not even handed over to their families. From a human rights point of view this is totally unacceptable. Where did a person go? He was working for the Defense Forces, suddenly he is untraceable or missing this is just not acceptable. The issue has been discussed a number of times. We who have resin from the middle rankles to the top have faced embarrassing questions. I, when I became the chief of army staff, many asked me this question but I was in no position to answer them as nobody had kept any records of them. This may or may not have been deliberate.
But I feel that there is no scope for such records to vanish from the Armed Forces, at least. There is only one way out of this mess is to go according to the rules and discipline of the Army and that alone will restore discipline in the Forces and make it a professional organization. Those who have lost their children, parents or relatives, we ought to give them a satisfactory answer. Where they are? What happened to them? Why it happened to them? If these questions are to be answered we need to be thoroughly analysis under what circumstances they were arrested, court martialled and possibly executed. I believe the right to know where their relatives died is a basic human right and the government owes an explanation to the people. We, who were in government, it was our responsibility. But as there was no plan to investigate the whole matter, we could not find the answers. But I believe it is better late than never. I think if there is a national truth commission it can find out who, where, how was involved in the different incidents in the Army. How he was punished and what was his crime, whether the crime was adequately proved if this happens the nation will rid of a huge debt.
If it is proved through the truth commission that many people have lost their lives despite being innocent they, I understand, cannot be restored to life. But their families were innocent of any crime and that they were wrongfully killed. At least, they will have that consolation. If they have been hanged unjustly, if they have been punished unfairly as a nation we can seek apology to their next of kin and rid our4selves, a little, of our collective guilt. It may give some comfort to their families.

Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah Former executive committee member, Amnesty International, Bangladesh section and chairman, department of public administration, Dhaka University.

I'm Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah. I've been working with Amnesty International for a long time. In 1984 when I was studying in England, I was involved with the group at Birmingham University and was involved with t

After that a number of coup de tats happened. I was involved with one or another. Some say that after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman 17 to 22 coup de tats took place. In reality, most of them were staged. According to Army rules and the Geneva Convention prisoners of wars are never taken back into active service. But we have allowed it. Those who had come back from (the then) West Pakistan, as repatriates, were given jobs in the Army.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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