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"The War Crimes Tribunal is expected to rule soon”
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"The War Crimes Tribunal is expected to rule soon”

Bangladesh is preparing to celebrate its Victory Day on 16th December, but as Mehzabin Ahmed, 29, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Dhaka, Bangladesh writes, the country’s mood it tempered as it waits for verdicts from the War Crimes Tribunal.

Bangladesh is preparing to celebrate independence, and at the same time is waiting for a verdict on a painful chapter in the journey to nationhood.

The International Crimes Tribunal, better known as the War Crimes Tribunal, is expected to rule soon on war crimes related to the county’s War of Independence.

The Tribunal was established in 2010 for the trial of war crimes committed during the War of Independence in Bangladesh in 1971. People involved in alleged war crimes and those who collaborated with Pakistan would be tried on charges of crimes against humanity, genocide, murder, rape and arson.

Those arrested accused include well-known alleged Razakars in Bangladesh, namely Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid, Nayeb-e-Ameer Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Kamaruzzaman, Qader Mollah and BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.

The Razakar was the paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. It worked along with the paramilitary forces Al-Badr and Al-Shams.

Today the wordrazakar” carries the meaning “traitor” in common Bangladeshi Bangla parlance, similar to the usage of the word Quisling after the Second World War. The term is used to refer to people associated with many of the alleged atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army during Bangladesh’s nine-month-long war of liberation.

During that War of Independence, it is estimated that up to three million people were killed and between 200,000 and 400,000 women were raped by Pakistani military and paramilitary forces. An estimated ten million refugees fled to India from Bangladesh, and a further 30 million were displaced.

While the International Crimes Tribunal continues amidst international criticism, people of once-scarred Bangladesh await the soon-to-come verdicts with more than four decades of profound grief.

As Bangladesh celebrates its 42nd Victory Day on 16th December, 2012, may we be blessed with prosperity for years to come, even as we recuperate from the sorrows of our past.

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About me:

“I come from Bangladesh, home to the Royal Bengal tigers and the longest natural beach in the world. I am passionate about working for sustainable solutions to development. I currently work as a development practitioner in Dhaka,Bangladesh. I am also a freelance journalist and a novice debater.

“I am bilingual in Bangla and English. I love learning new languages, and am a keen but elementary student of French. What I have learnt from wise words and life experiences is that, “If you want others to change, you have to be willing to change yourself as well”. Feel free to call me Simi.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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