It is an unfortunate feature of Bangladeshi historiography that bullshit is easily rendered into fact, and that events like the hideous Sohagpur massacre have been retrospectively pinned onto Kamaruzzaman. As well as objecting to unfairness of trial and false historical evidence making, we need to ask ourselves how this has been possible. Many people, Bangladeshi and non-Bangladeshi have been instrumental in creating the myths that mislead us on Bangladesh. It can be observed that their sons and daughters still dominate the English medium nonsense-making engine that represents Bangladesh in the international media. Thankfully, more and more are seeing through the facade.
Before this tribunal, Kamaruzzaman was not implicated war crimes, he wasn't event a primary or secondary object of hatred to campaigners on the issue. In the image below we see a younger Kamaruzzaman speaking on a panel about Rethinking Confrontational Politics with some prominent members of Bangladesh's 'vibrant' civil society in 2000. From left to right we have Kamaruzzaman the Younger, NGO-lady Khushi Kabir (whose husband tried to run a local Amnesty franchise but was allegedly too corrupt), the Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam (whose daughter Tahmima Anam represents Bangladesh in the New York Times and Guardian) and economist Rahman Sobhan (whose son Zafar edits the Dhaka Tribune). I would love to have a read of the proceedings if they were recorded.
We can expect further repression of Kamrazzaman's lawyers, family and well wishers, from the government and establishment media machine in the coming days. Twitter tells me that there has been a joint forces raid on his home in Mirpur, Dhaka and two family members arrested.
Last November I wrote about Kamaruzzaman's unjust predicament, and the year before about his Strategy for Change for his party. It is a party that requires much transformation, and he is a reformer struggling and leading people to realist some of those reforms. It is my speculation that he is targeted because it is people like him who represent a positive future of Jamaat, responsive to social justice needs, not mindless conservatism.
Through killing him the Awami League does two things, it satiates the primordial blood lusts that it has nurtured in its followers for decades, and enflames and destabilizes the progressive tendency in Jamaat, and tries to make beasts of its adherents.
Earlier this month an independent and constructive report detailing the systematic injustices of the current war crimes tribunal was published by Geoffrey Robertson QC . Its independence has been questioned by David Bergman, who has made a whole career, family and legacy covering the issue, apparently using evidence extracted under torture.
Robertson's report sets a new reference point for the internationalisation of justice in the issue. Most interesting for me is the inclusion of an argument for the posthumous trial of General Tikka Khan, author of Operation Searchlight, the brutal army crackdown which kicked of the Bangladesh War. For reference, after the war General Tikka Khan was awarded the Governership of Punjab by late Benazir Bhutto.
I think transformative justice is very important for ongoing dignity and for civilisation to flourish. Till today, both Pakistan (Model Town, Lahore June 2014)) and Bangladesh (Motijheel, Dhaka May 2013) are ruled by brutal establishments that massacre their own citizens to hold onto power. Understanding how they operate, self legitimate and spawn themselves is in the public interest.
I have always thought that the Bangladesh war crimes trials were an unjust idea, because there is no shared appetite, or capacity, to know what really happened, just self-aggrandizing delusional, hurt histories muddled with ideological axes. To remedy this, I wholeheartedly support William Gomes' letter to Imran Khan for Truth and Reconciliation between all of the societies involved in the Bangladesh War.
To close, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman deserves a fair retrial at the very least and the Robertson Report outlines how this may be achieved. Murdering him via the judiciary further weakens the governments grip on history. That our so-called civil society stands for such persecution questions their claims to morality and civility