As the Bangladesh War Crimes Trial is unfolding several new understandings are being made.
Recently, Holiday published news of how several of the witnesses to date have criminality and beholdenness to government clouding their testimony. The same publication also features a discussion of the history|futurity of the issue, how in the Awami script you must be a freedom fighter for all time and it doesn't matter what you are now, and how in the BNP script its the present and the future that matters.
But how are these scripts and documents created, and what is their role on (un)consciousness raising, (non)fact distilling and (in)justice making?
I live in London but think of desh a lot. It is incredible how political lies have become the basis of the state and I'm fortunate enough for my employment, status and safety not to be threatened by refusing to see truth in the emotional game being played right now.
In the UK, the trial of some of those accused of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence has reached a result. A lot of hard work went into this and one important provocative document was the BBC1 documentary The boys who killed Stephen Lawrence. Some reviews called it tenacious but futile, the police didnt like it of course. But its impact on the ecology of justice might be something worth pondering.
Documentaries on the nonwest made for the viewing of white structures of power have an uncomfortabley heavy weight in Bangladesh. In relation to the war crimes trials, Channel 4's 1995 The War Crimes File, from Twenty twenty Television is crucial to view.
It is easy to string together and then believe a visually compelling that you do not have the resources or inclination to contest. The time to pool our resources and inclinations is now.
And we are in luck because the prison has escape encoded in its very bars.
This documentary is important to appreciate, deconstruct and reconstruct. It is additionally fascinating given its cast, director ( David Bergman, New Age hack, War Crimes Trials reporter and son -in-law of ex Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain (i think)), and cheerleaders (Gita Saghal, Shahriar Kabir et al) . More generally The War Crimes File can be seen as part of a genre
of film making that we should supersede with polyphonic approaches and
multiple axes of critical reflection.
As our understanding of what really happened in 1971 deepens and truthens these archives and the (non)sense in them are crying out for greater scrutiny. As a non supporter-follower of this trial, I see that eye witnesses are proving to be the hearsay of the politically leaned upon, criminals, party workers and freedom fighter benefit chancers. What of the cast?