Bangladesh must protect the memory of martyred intellectuals by banning political parties that use religion as the basis of their politics, a family member of one of those killed has said.
Dr Nuzhat Chaudhury, the daughter of martyred intellectual Dr Abdul Alim Chaudhury, told the Dhaka Tribune that although Bangladesh has “made strides” with the trials of war criminals, it should do more to right the wrongs of 1971.
“It is a great disappointment that Jamaat-e-Islami, which was involved in war crimes during the Liberation War, is still not banned,” Nuzhat said.
“Bangladesh has not been able to ban religion-based politics yet. They are spreading their ideology across the country (and) not being able to prevent them increases the pain that we, as children of martyrs, suffer.”
Nuzhat also urged the government to bring “every single person involved” in war crimes under trial.
“The families of the martyred are happy to see that masterminds behind the attack were brought to justice, but many people involved with the crimes against humanity during 1971 have still not been brought to trial,” she said.
“The government immediately needs to bring Jamaat to trial as a party. The families of the martyred can feel that this specific party, that tried to shatter our dream of an independent Bangladesh, will attack the country again.
“There is no parameter on who was involved and to what extent. All people involved with war crimes should be brought to justice,” she said.
Nuzhat specifically referenced the 195 Pakistani soldiers identified by the government as being involved in war crimes.
“No matter whether we can bring them here or not, we were victimised by them and our tribunal should bring them to justice,” she said. “The plan to bring them here for trial is still under discussion. We need to see the plan turn into reality.”
Nuzhat, who works at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, also expressed her dissatisfaction with the country's failure to prepare a comprehensive list of people who gave their lives for the country in 1971.
She said: “We do not know the actual number yet (and) there are many families of martyred who remain unattended to. We have failed to give them the honor they deserve. All these families deserve honor and facilities.”
Nuzhat said rather than observing December 14 as a formality, the nation needs to focus on the dreams and ideologies that the martyrs had.
“I have not lost hope because I can see the commitment and patriotic attitude among country's young generation on independence. If all of us, including our political parties, can uphold the ideology of the Liberation War, we can make a change,” she hoped.
On the evening of December 15, 1971, a few hours before the birth of Bangladesh, a microbus covered in mud stopped in front of Dr Abdul Alim Chaudhury's house.
Nuzhat said Several men got down from the microbus and took her father away.
“On December 18, we found his body lying in a pool of blood in the Rayer Bazaar brickfield along with hundreds of other leading intellectuals of the day,” she said.
Dr Abdul Alim Chaudhury was an eminent ophthalmologist and a politically active leader of his community.
Trained in the UK, he returned to serve his country. He was not only a brilliant doctor but also a leader of the medical community.
Even though he was born in a wealthy landowner family, he dreamed of a classless society where rights of all human beings would be upheld.
He was actively involved in the Language Movement of 1952 as a student leader at Dhaka Medical College.
In 1954, he was taken into custody by the Pakistan Government on the anniversary of the Language Movement.
Later in life, he served as the secretary general of the Ophthalmological Society of East Pakistan and Secretary General of the Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan.