The War Crimes Filing Cabinet

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?


Anonymous said...

So the War Crimes File was made for 'white power structures'? That's funny, I thought it was banned after threat of libel from those fighters for the oppressed, Carter Ruck. Somebody had the resources to contest.

In the UK context, it's that film and its view point that has been marginalised, whereas the people it threatens to expose have been feted and funded by the 'white power structures'.

When I think of the ELM I see an institution that while it has been a target for white racists, is also highly mainstream and has been visited and/or promoted by all sorts of members of the 'white power structure' from the government, media, even Prince Charles.

Likewise you refer to the 'white power structure' on your piece on the BMSD. While I do find this piece brilliant and hilarious it's wrong to associate the white powerstructures with secularism. Everywhere I see secularism squeezed by more and more funding for faith-based services and education. BMSD certainly has some establishment backing but at the same time the money keeps flowing into faith based organisations to deliver services that used to be the realm of the state. More's coming. In Tower Hamlets as you know the ELM runs many services that used to be under this remit - it's hardly threatened by secular authority on this front. Again great piece very funny but why always your sense of victimhood?

But back to the Filing Cabinet. I am not beholden to the Awami League(I've got an interest in CHT and the AL has no better record than its predecessors in attempting to redress the crimes against the Jumma people that have continued since the catastrophy under the british)and would keep an open mind if you did decide to deconstruct it on your blog.

Anonymous said...

clearly you are misinformed. The war crimes file aired on channel 4. It was not banned at all.

fug said...

I believe it was PR for the white power structure and see many similar joint political ventures. After the stunt that Gita Seghal pulled on Moazzem Beg anything she touches needs to be more closely scrutinised.

The 2020 production was made for UK TV, a certain political experience in desh and human rights wallah audiences, who arent the stuff of subaltern decoloniality now are they?

Secularism is a western white christocentric political term, epistemicidal to the core. Like white structures of power. Imposed by sanctions and armed force.

I think your picture of the documentary, the accused, the law firm and alleged resources is superficial but common place. Its as if carter ruck only ever take on the cases of international killers murderers and rapists?

The retreat of the state is accompanied by the cooption of organisation to do its biddings.
Im not particularly bothered with public money, or competing over it. Are you?