Bangladesh: Nation in Confrontation
Sunita Paul - 4/11/2008
Originally Published in Global Politician (http://globalpolitician.com)
Some say, it is an international conspiracy to destabilize country's internal situation, while others say, it is a mere madness of some opportunists who are always willing to turn Bangladesh into a failed state. But, a number of organizations in Bangladesh, mostly led by some atheists and leftists are continuing its campaign to hold trial of war criminals of 1971 war of independence.
The matter came into lime light when Chief of Bangladeshi Armed Forces, General Moeen U Ahmed first made a public statement expressing his willingness in trying the war criminals. Later, the voice of the Bangladeshi General was echoed by many of the elements in the society, including individuals like Shahriar Kabir, Kabir Chowdhury, Ramendu Majumder, who are considered to be dubious figures in Bangladeshi society.
Shahriar Kabir is a former member of armed group named Purba Bangla Communist Party, which supports terrorism in the name of establishing socialist state in various parts of South Asian nations. Such activities named Naxalite Movement was initially banned and then completely wiped off in West Bengal several decades back. But, people like Kabir are continuing to dream of destabilizing democratic system in Bangladesh thus replacing it with socialist structure.
With such agenda in mind, these people had been continuing activities of an organization named Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, which in fact enjoys support and patronization from a particular nation in Europe. Later in recent days, these people formed another organization named Sector Commander's Forum in Bangladesh with the goal of trying the war criminals. It may be mentioned here that, father of the nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced general amnesty to the war criminals as he was absolutely aware of the fact that such actions would not only go against anti liberation forces but against a large number of freedom fighters too, as they were also liable of gross violations of rights of prisoners of war and non-Bengali communities in the country.
Now, the new episode of such 'initiatives' of trying the war criminals will possibly divide the entire nation. It could have different impact if the country was under normal democratic rule. But now Dhaka is under extra-constitutional rule and a number of National Crisis, including silent famine, power shortage etc., are on rapid increasing trend. Possibly for Bangladesh, the immediate challenge is resolving the existing famine and next is to tackle power (electricity) crisis. Of course, the immediate next agenda for the nation is to get back to democracy. But, some preachers of democracy, who are in reality against democracy, are getting set to begin the trial of war criminals under the present military backed regime. Some are already raising questions as to whether these people are trying to give another chance to the present rulers in Dhaka in getting their tenure extended in the name of trying the war criminals. Or, why for those freedom fighters, trying war criminals is more important than getting the country back to democracy or even standing as a supporting force in resolving the existing famine situation? I haven't seen any statement or actions by those 'Sector Commanders' in making any public pleads for helping the famine hit people of Bangladesh. Rather, they have published a list of 1597 individuals terming them as 'War Criminals'.
It is understood from the list itself that such names were not included after any investigation or even on the basis of consensus of the Freedom Fighters as well as testimony of affected people. This was probably done to get a quick publicity in the media.
I am quite sure, those, who have issued the list of war criminals, are quite naïve on the terms of how and why people are considered as war criminals. Of course, for brutalities of any occupation forces, they will be held as war criminals. In additional collaborators of occupation forces, for committing specific crime shall also be liable. But, even portions in favor of the liberation war are also liable for such crime as per International Humanitarian Law. The law says, "Persons who do not or can no longer take part in the hostilities are entitled to respect for their life and for their physical and mental integrity. Such persons must in all circumstances be protected and treated with humanity, without any unfavorable distinction whatever.
It is forbidden to kill or wound an adversary who surrenders or who can no longer take part in the fighting.
The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. Medical personnel and medical establishments, transports and equipment must be spared. The Red Cross or Red Crescent on a white background is the sign protecting such persons and objects and must be respected.
Captured combatants and civilians who find themselves under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their life, their dignity, their personal rights and their political, religious and other convictions. They must be protected against all acts of violence or reprisal. They are entitled to exchange news with their families and receive aid.
Everyone must enjoy basic judicial guarantees and no one may be held responsible for an act he has not committed. No one may be subjected to physical or mental torture or to cruel or degrading corporal punishment or other treatment.
Neither the parties to the conflict nor members of their armed forces have an unlimited rights to choose methods and means of warfare. It is forbidden to use weapons or methods of warfare that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or excessive suffering.
The parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as whole nor individual civilians may be attacked. Attacks may be made solely against military objectives.
The basic principles of Geneva conventions are reposing on the respect of the human being and are respecting its dignity.
Individuals, who do not take direct part in hostilities as well as individuals, can not take part in these actions due illness, wound, captivity or other reasons, are entitled to be respected and protected against conflicting sides' military operations' consequences without any unfavorable distinction whatever.
Additional protocols are extending action field, concerning it to any individual, involved in a military conflict. Moreover, these protocols oblige warring sides and combatants not to attack civilians and civil objects as well oblige to guarantee the providing of military operations in compliance with the generally accepted humanitarian law."
THE HISTORY OF HUMANITARIAN LAW
Until the middle of the 19th century all of the treaties concerning war victims' protection were circumstantial and binding only for the signing parties. These agreements were purely military-designed, based on strictly binding mutual obligations; and they were in force only during specific armed conflict.
The 1864 Geneva Convention laid the foundations for the contemporary humanitarian law. It was in a whole characterized by:
Standing written rules of universal scope to protect the victims of conflicts;
Its multilateral nature, open to all States; the obligation to extend care without discrimination to wounded and sick military personnel;
Respect for and marking of medical personnel, transports and equipment using an emblem (red cross on a white background).
The creation of the modern humanitarian law was strongly tied with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, changing the matter of things. It was a big step towards humanity. Since then countries are bound by multilateral treaty, which is in force forever and on every occasion.
It all began in June 1859, when a merchant named Henry Dunant was traveling through the war-ravaged plain of Normandia, north of Italia, after the battle of Solferino. Seeing thousands of wounded soldiers left dying in the mercy of fate, he appealed to the local inhabitants to come and help, insisting that combatants from both sides should be taken care of. There and then it crossed the Dunant's mind an idea about the creation of the Red Cross;. so he decided to tell the world about experienced horrors of war and wrote a book "A memory of Solferino", let it be mentioned here that with this work he initiated the news reports' epoch. In his book, published in 1862, he made two solemn appeals; firstly, for relief societies to be formed in the peacetime with nurses who would be ready to care for the wounded in wartime. Secondly, for these volunteers, who would be called upon to assist the military medical services, to be recognized and protected through an international agreement. These ideas soon materialized in the creation of the "International Committee for Relief to the Wounded", which later became the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In response to an invitation from the International Committee, representatives from sixteen countries and four philanthropic institutions gathered at an International Conference in Geneva in 1863. This event marked the founding of the Red Cross as an institution. But this was only the first step. Henry Dunant and the other members of the Committee wanted official and international recognition of the Red Cross and its ideals. They wanted a Convention to be adopted which would ensure the protection of medical services on the battlefield.
To this end the Swiss government agreed to convene a Diplomatic Conference which was held in Geneva in 1864. Representatives of twelve governments took part and adopted a treaty prepared by the International Committee and entitled the "Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field". This agreement, with its ten articles, was the first treaty of international humanitarian law. Subsequently, further conferences were held, extending the basic law to other categories of victims, such as prisoners of war. In 1899 in the Hague it was signed the next Convention, adjusting Geneva Convention's principles to the war-action at sea. In 1906, the ten articles of the First Convention were improved and complemented. And in 1907 under the terms of this Convention,. In the Hague it were determined all combatants' categories who had the war-prisoner's status when detained as well as the right for the adequate treatment during their captivity. In 1929, these Conventions were developed further and affirmed one more time.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a Diplomatic Conference deliberated for four months before adopting the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which for the first time included provisions for the protection of civilians in wartime. In 1977, the Conventions were supplemented by two Additional Protocols.
The First Geneva Convention, signed in 1864, was the first treaty of international humanitarian law. In 1899 in the Hague it was signed the next convention, applying the Geneva convention to war action at sea.
And in 1907 The Hague Convention determined combatants' categories. In 1929 these conventions were developed further and expanded one more time. In 1949 during the international conference it was adopted Geneva convention "Civil persons' protection during the war-time" as well transcribed three previous adapted conventions and submitted their texts. The Geneva Convention from 1949 and additional Protocols in to nearly 600 paragraphs is law achievement with a historical importance.
GENEVA CONVENTIONS: (Accepted on August the 12th, 1949)
The protection provided by the Conventions applies to the following categories of persons:
The First Convention - wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field;
The Second Convention - wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea as well as shipwreck victims;
The Third Convention - prisoners of the war;
The Fourth Convention - civilians in times of war.
The Additional Protocols:
The ICRC, being the initiator and the guardian of international humanitarian law, is responsible for its development in order to be in step with warfare changes. The law are formed in a consecutive stages, as well providing the revision of existing documents whenever the Committee considers it as a necessary measure. Committee's legal experts organize and participate in meetings and conferences aimed at improving the protection of war victims. Banning the use of certain weapons, such as anti-personnel landmines and blinding weapons, is among the issues currently being examined.
In the 1965 ICRC decided that it was coming up to this measure. Even if the Geneva Conventions dated 1949 have not lost their importance and significance, they were incomplete in the terms of the necessity to protect the victims of modern military conflicts. For that reason ICRC began research the possibilities to fill these gaps in existing law, providing them with the additive protocols. In February, 1974, Swiss government convened a diplomatic conference in order to discuss the draft protocols. Invited were 115 countries who signed Geneva conventions or/and the member states of United Nations Organization. In this conference it took part observers representing 14 national liberation organizations as well as 35 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; 102 official representatives adopted 102 paragraphs of the First protocol concerning protection of the victims of international military conflicts, as well as 28 paragraphs of the Second protocol concerning the protection of the victims of local conflicts. In June the 10th, 1977, there was the official ceremony of the signing of these Protocols, but in general these activities had the ceremonial character. The two Additional Protocols of 1977 supplement the Conventions which aim to limit the use of violence and protect the civilian population by strengthening the rules governing the conduct of hostilities.
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field. Geneva, 22 August 1864:
Article 1. Ambulances and military hospitals shall be recognized as neutral, and as such, protected and respected by the belligerents as long as they accommodate wounded and sick.
Neutrality shall end if the said ambulances or hospitals should be held by a military force.
Art. 2. Hospital and ambulance personnel, including the quarter-master's staff, the medical, administrative and transport services, and the chaplains, shall have the benefit of the same neutrality when on duty, and while there remain any wounded to be brought in or assisted.
Art. 3. The persons designated in the preceding Article may, even after enemy occupation, continue to discharge their functions in the hospital or ambulance with which they serve, or may withdraw to rejoin the units to which they belong.
When in these circumstances they cease from their functions, such persons shall be delivered to the enemy outposts by the occupying forces.
Art. 4. The material of military hospitals being subject to the laws of war, the persons attached to such hospitals may take with them, on withdrawing, only the articles which are their own personal property.
Ambulances, on the contrary, under similar circumstances, shall retain their equipment.
Art. 5. Inhabitants of the country who bring help to the wounded shall be respected and shall remain free. Generals of the belligerent Powers shall make it their duty to notify the inhabitants of the appeal made to their humanity, and of the neutrality which humane conduct will confer.
The presence of any wounded combatant receiving shelter and care in a house shall ensure its protection. An inhabitant who has given shelter to the wounded shall be exempted from billeting and from a portion of such war contributions as may be levied.
Art. 6. Wounded or sick combatants, to whatever nation they may belong, shall be collected and cared for.
Commanders-in-Chief may hand over immediately to the enemy outposts enemy combatants wounded during an engagement, when circumstances allow and subject to the agreement of both parties.
Those who, after their recovery, are recognized as being unfit for further service, shall be repatriated.
The others may likewise be sent back, on condition that they shall not again, for the duration of hostilities, take up arms.
Evacuation parties, and the personnel conducting them, shall be considered as being absolutely neutral.
Art. 7. A distinctive and uniform flag shall be adopted for hospitals, ambulances and evacuation parties. It should in all circumstances be accompanied by the national flag.
An armlet may also be worn by personnel enjoying neutrality but its issue shall be left to the military authorities.
Both flag and armlet shall bear a red cross on a white ground.
Art. 8. The implementing of the present Convention shall be arranged by the Commanders-in-Chief of the belligerent armies following the instructions of their respective Governments and in accordance with the general principles set forth in this Convention.
Art. 9. The High Contracting Parties have agreed to communicate the present Convention with an invitation to accede thereto to Governments unable to appoint Plenipotentiaries to the International Conference at Geneva. The Protocol has accordingly been left open.
Art. 10. The present Convention shall be ratified and the ratifications exchanged at Berne, within the next four months, or sooner if possible.
In faith whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the Convention and thereto affixed their seals.
Done at Geneva, this twenty-second day of August, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four.
ICRC's relation with other international humanitarian law.
As a neutral and private organization, whose all participants are Swiss citizens, as well as an initiator of the acceptance of the Geneva Convention, ICRC is taking responsibility for the adoption of these conventions. Moreover, in account of its neutrality this Committee is based in a convenient place to offer its assistance to the victims of the warring-sides military conflicts.
In the first place, ICRC is a real helper to the wounded and sick military personnel, as well as shipwreck victims and the prisoners of war, whose condition it seeks to improve from the moment of their capturing to their release.
For that purpose it
Delegates its representatives to the internment camps, concentration camps or/and labor camps where the imprisoned people are kept;
Representatives evaluate these prisoners' lodging and boarding conditions as well as attitude against them;
If necessary, representatives make an appeal to prisoner-keeping country to reach an preferable improvements.
ICRC is acting in favor of the civil persons in the territory of enemy and in the occupied regions. In the case of local military conflicts the Committee acts as a neutral mediator (see para 3 common to all four Geneva conventions from 1949).
Another sphere of the action of the ICRC is providing the searching of the missing persons as well as an exchange of information between the family members divided by military conflicts. The central searching institution of the ICRC, based in Geneva, too, has recently data-based the amount of 55 million cards in which there are summarized 30 millions of specific cases in the hundred years' period.
Eventually, the ICRC is an organization, to which can refer those civilians who in the case of war are starving. It's not a rare situation when ICRC is the one and only institution who can overstep the barbed wires, blockade, as well can make free movements in the occupied territories providing food, medicine and clothes, blankets etc. to those are in need.
Depending on the scale of help needed, the ICRC turns for help to the National committees of the ICRC, the League of the Red Cross organizations, to the governments not included in war-conflict as well as non-governmental institutions.
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907):
The Hague Conventions were international treaties negotiated at the First and Second Peace Conferences at The Hague, Netherlands in 1899 and 1907, respectively, and were, along with the Geneva Conventions, among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of secular international law.Contents [hide]
1. Hague Convention of 1899
2 Hague Convention of 1907
3 Geneva Protocol to Hague Convention
4 See also
Hague Convention of 1899:
The First Peace Conference was held from May 18 and signed on July 29, 1899 and entering into force on September 4, 1900, the Hague Convention of 1899 consisted of four main sections and three additional declarations (the final main section is for some reason identical to the first additional declaration):
I - Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
II - Laws and Customs of War on Land
III - Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of Principles of Geneva Convention of 1864
IV - Prohibiting Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
Declaration I - On the Launching of Projectiles and Explosives from Balloons
Declaration II - On the Use of Projectiles the Object of Which is the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases
Declaration III - On the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body
The main effect of the Convention was to ban the use of certain types of modern technology in war: bombing from the air, chemical warfare, and hollow point bullets. The Convention also set up the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The conference was summoned at the urging of Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, Foreign Minister of Russia. Its delegates included Fyodor Martens and Ivan Bloch.
Hague Convention of 1907:
The Second Peace Conference was held from June 15 to October 18, 1907, to expand upon the original Hague Convention, modifying some parts and adding others, with an increased focus on naval warfare. This was signed on October 18, 1907, and entered into force on January 26, 1910. It consisted of thirteen sections, of which twelve were ratified and entered into force:
I - The Pacific Settlement of International Disputes
II - The Limitation of Employment of Force for Recovery of Contract Debts
III - The Opening of Hostilities
IV - The Laws and Customs of War on Land
V - The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land
VI - The Status of Enemy Merchant Ships at the Outbreak of Hostilities
VII - The Conversion of Merchant Ships into War-Ships
VIII - The Laying of Automatic Submarine Contact Mines
IX - Bombardment by Naval Forces in Time of War
X - Adaptation to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention
XI - Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War
XII - The Creation of an International Prize Court [Not Ratified]
XIII - The Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War
Two declarations were signed as well:
Declaration I - extending Declaration II from the 1899 Conference to other types of aircraft
Declaration II - on the obligatory arbitration
The British delegation included the 11th Lord Reay (Donald James Mackay), Sir Ernest Satow and Eyre Crowe. The Russian delegation was led by Fyodor Martens. The Brazilian delegation was led by the statesman Ruy Barbosa, whose contribution was essential for the defense of the principle of legal equality of nations.
Geneva Protocol to Hague Convention:
Though not negotiated in The Hague, the Geneva Protocol to the Hague Convention is considered an addition to the Convention. Signed on June 17, 1925 and entering into force on February 8, 1928, it permanently bans the use of all forms of chemical and biological warfare in its single section, entitled Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. The protocol grew out of the increasing public outcry against chemical warfare following the use of mustard gas and similar agents in World War I, and fears that chemical and biological warfare could lead to horrific consequences in any future war. The protocol has since been augmented by the Biological Weapons Convention (1972) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993).
What is a war crime?
According to Tarik Kafala, an analyst of British Broadcasting Corporation, the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and others accused of war crimes at The Hague is being seen as a crucial test of international law and international legal institutions.
But what exactly are war crimes? What body of laws do they refer to and who has the right to try a suspect for such crimes?
Milosevic's trial is seen as a crucial test of international law
The concept of war crimes is a recent one. Before World War II, it was generally accepted that the horrors of war were in the nature of war.
But during World War II the murder of several million people - mainly Jews - by Nazi Germany, and the mistreatment of both civilians and prisoners of war by the Japanese, prompted the Allied powers to prosecute the people they believed to be the perpetrators of these crimes.
The Nuremberg trials in 1945 and 1946 led to 12 Nazi leaders being executed.
A similar process started in Tokyo in 1948. Seven Japanese commanders were hanged, though the Allies decided not to put Emperor Hirohito in the dock.
These trials are essentially the only precedents for the cases that the tribunal in The Hague hears.
In addition, individual governments, feeling that justice has not been done, have acted on their own initiative.
At the heart of the concept of war crimes is the idea that an individual can be held responsible for the actions of a country or that nation's soldiers
This happened most famously in 1960 when Adolf Eichmann, a high-profile Nazi closely involved in the organization of the concentration camps and the policies of the Holocaust, was tracked down in Argentina by Israeli agents.
He was kidnapped and taken to Israel where he was put on trial and subsequently hanged.
A more recent example was the 1987 trial of Klaus Barbie - a leading Nazi during the German occupation of France. Barbie was sentenced to life imprisonment
Body of laws:
At the heart of the concept of war crimes is the idea that an individual can be held responsible for the actions of a country or that nation's soldiers.
Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte visits a mass grave in Kosovo
Genocide, crimes against humanity, mistreatment of civilians or combatants during war can all fall under the category of war crimes. Genocide is the most severe of these crimes.
The body of laws that define a war crime are the Geneva Conventions, a broader and older area of laws referred to as the Laws and Customs of War, and, in the case of the former Yugoslavia, the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague (ICTY).
Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as:
"Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including... willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, ...taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."
This, international lawyers say, is the basic definition of war crimes.
The statutes of The Hague tribunal say the court has the right to try suspects alleged to have violated the laws or customs of war in the former Yugoslavia since 1992. Examples of such violations are given in article 3:
Wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity
Attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings
Seizure of, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science
Plunder of public or private property.
The tribunal defines crime against humanity as crimes committed in armed conflict but directed against a civilian population. Again a list of examples is given in article 5:
Persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds.
Genocide is defined by the tribunal as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".
But the law on war crimes is continually evolving.
In February 2001, the tribunal in The Hague delivered a ruling that made mass systematic rape and sexual enslavement in a time of war a crime against humanity.
Mass rape, or rape used as a tool of war, was then elevated from being a violation of the customs of war to one of the most heinous war crimes of all - second only to genocide.
Spotting a war crime
It is not always easy to spot a war crime.
The displacement of civilians from their homes by an enemy army is not necessarily a war crime.
It can be argued that the displacement is being carried out for the protection of the civilians.
It only becomes a war crime if the expulsions can be proven to be part of campaign of ethnic cleansing or designed as a mass punishment of civilians.
Equally, is it a war crime for the air force of one country to bomb an enemy's television station because of the propaganda in the broadcasts?
Under the Geneva Conventions, this is not a war crime. Just about all aspects of a state's infrastructure - roads, bridges, power stations, factories - become legitimate targets if they might be put to military use.
Such attacks only become war crimes if the extent of collateral damage to civilians and civilian interests resulting from the attack would be excessive compared to the military advantage gained from the attack.
International human rights groups have long called for a uniform and global legal system for dealing with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Apart from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, established in May 1993, a second international tribunal was established in Arusha, Tanzania, for cases resulting from the atrocities carried out in Rwanda in 1994.
Although both The Hague and Arusha tribunals represent significant further steps in bringing those accused of war crimes to justice, they are, like Nuremberg and Tokyo, committed to dealing with war crimes in specific conflicts.
As of June 2003, 139 countries had signed the Rome treaty that establishes the International Criminal Court and 90 countries had ratified it.
The United States has refused to sign the treaty, arguing the court could be used to pursue politically motivated prosecutions.
The question of whether international courts of this kind are political - as Mr Milosevic and others have argued - hangs over all international legal institutions.
In a sense it is true that the tribunals are political since the international political will to establish and fund them has to exist before they can get to work.
Critics of international courts often argue that international justice can only be truly legitimate when all war crimes, committed by any county, come under the jurisdiction of a single international court.
US WAR CRIMES:
A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal -by Ramsey Clark and Others
Incinerated body of an Iraqi soldier on the "Highway of Death," a name the press has given to the road from Mutlaa, Kuwait, to Basra, Iraq. U.S. planes immobilized the convoy by disabling vehicles at its front and rear, then bombing and strafing the resulting traffic jam for hours. More than 2,000 vehicles and tens of thousands of charred and dismembered bodies littered the sixty miles of highway. The clear rapid incineration of the human being [pictured above] suggests the use of napalm, phosphorus, or other incendiary bombs. These are anti-personnel weapons outlawed under the 1977 Geneva Protocols. This massive attack occurred after Saddam Hussein announced a complete troop withdrawal from Kuwait in compliance with UN Resolution 660. Such a massacre of withdrawing Iraqi soldiers violates the Geneva Convention of 1949, common article 3, which outlaws the killing of soldiers who "are out of combat." There are, in addition, strong indications that many of those killed were Palestinian and Kuwaiti civilians trying to escape the impending siege of Kuwait City and the return of Kuwaiti armed forces. No attempt was made by U.S. military command to distinguish between military personnel and civilians on the "highway of death." The whole intent of international law with regard to war is to prevent just this sort of indiscriminate and excessive use of force.
"It has never happened in history that a nation that has won a war has been held accountable for atrocities committed in preparing for and waging that war. We intend to make this one different. What took place was the use of technological material to destroy a defenseless country. From 125,000 to 300,000 people were killed... We recognize our role in history is to bring the transgressors to justice." Ramsey Clark
Ramsey Clark served as U.S. Attorney General in the administration of Lyndon Johnson. He is the convener of the Commission of Inquiry and a human rights lawyer of world-wide respect. This report was given in New York, May 11, 1991.
If all such references and international laws are taken into consideration, it would be easily assumed that, during the War of Independence of Bangladesh in 1971, not only the occupation forces or their allies were engaged in war crimes, many of the pro-liberation forces, including freedom fighters may also be held liable for such crime. In this case, would it be viable for Bangladesh to try almost a significant portion of the nation for such crime? Or, this will open a venue for a possible civil war?
Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan has issued a statement following inclusion of its spiritual leader Hefezzi Huzur in the list as a war criminal. The statement signed by its leaders Kazi Azizul Huq and Moulana Hamidullah Ibn Hafezzi Huzur says, "Our attention has been drawn to the campaign by certain people claiming to be Sector Commanders of of Bangladesh's 1971 Lilberation War and the so-called war crime facts finding committee. Such groups mostly filled by ateists, leftists and anti-religious elements are continuously conspiring to destablize internal situation in Bangladesh with a ulterior motive of labelling the country as a "Failed State".
We are terribly shocked and surprised to note that the above mentioned groups have proposed a list of 1597 individuals including Late Saint Hazrat Maulana Mohammadullah Hafezzee Huzur (Peace be upon him) terming them as war criminals. We now understand that those groups are nothing but local merceneirs of foreign vested interests of athiest-leftist-alliance whose aim is to de-faith Muslims through defaming Islamic leaders and personalities by propagating lies and abusing freedom of expression.
Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon has carefully scrutinized their statements as well as war crime related charters and conventions including Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal 1950, Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Convention1977, Article 147 of Fourth Geneva Convention etc. Our experts are convinced with the fact that such trials would not only go against opponent forces of our War of Independence but also against many of the Sector Commanders and Freedom Fighters for gross violations of the mentioned international conventions and laws.
If the opponents of our War of Independence gather and make public information & testimonies of War Crimes of our Freedom Fighters, Sector Commanders and the politicians in charge of Bangladesh Government in 1971 then the image of our Liberation Movement will be at stake and the nation will be weakened further and may be engulfed in conflicts and anarchy."
This is the first ever statement from any political party in Bangladesh following the initiatives of some elements in the society in trying war criminals. BKA claims that such attempts shall tarnish the image of the great liberation movement of Bangladesh.
I have my personal admiration for the Bangladeshis as they fought quite an impossible battle with the mighty Pakistani forces and liberated their land. In years, Dhaka has already wiped off tears and spots of 1971 and established diplomatic relations with Islamabad. To my knowledge, Bangladeshis consider Pakistan as their 'brethren' on religious spirit. Moreover, as one of the important players of SAARC, Bangladesh may not wish to spoil its relations with Pakistan by bringing an old issue of trying the war criminals. It is not only for the sake of Dhaka-Islamabad relations, but for the very image of the liberation movement of the country. Bangladesh may not afford to push a large number of freedom fighters in trial dais as war criminals, by beginning the trial process in presence of international observers. In this case, my humble and plain question to all Bangladeshis, why this demand is loudly brought now? What are the motives behind? To divide the nation or to give an excellent opportunity to the military backed government in prolonging its tenure?