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The International Crimes Tribunal was finally established only in 2008.Its work is slow, and everyone feels that it is achieving what it can before the government changes at the next election.
The massive chaos of its constantly stationary traffic is often riven by protests, strikes, marches. But this is a country driven by a national agony at its creation which has never been fully addressed.In his 1967 memoirs, General Ayub Khan wrote that “East Bengalis…have all the inhibitions of downtrodden races … He was imprisoned, and the Pakistani forces began a genocide which lasted from March to December 1971.Pakistan has never accepted responsibility for what happened.Another, however, Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary general of a Muslim party which collaborated with the genocidaires, the Jamaat–e-Islami, was given life imprisonment.The protests which followed, and are still continuing, are led by intelligent and liberal people; they are, however, calling with great urgency for the death penalty to be passed on Mollah and other convicted war criminals.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.
The current trials have operated under constant threats of violence from a still active Jamaat-e-Islami. 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.
Hundreds of thousands have occupied Shahbagh Square in protest at a verdict passed by the International Crimes Tribunal on war crimes committed during the genocide which preceded the founding of the country in 1971.
One of those found guilty, Abdul Kalam Azad, was sentenced to death.
As the scholar Bina D’Costa points out, for the Bangladesh government, an upper figure gave the new country greater legitimacy; for the Pakistanis, to scoff and diminish allowed them to demonstrate an ongoing distrust.