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Never again

  • Published at 11:00 pm January 29th, 2020
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Remains of barracks are pictured at the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz II - Birkenau, near Oswiecim, Poland January 16, 2020. Picture taken January 16, 2020 Reuters

Don’t let atrocities get lost in history 

In the past week, there were two congregations marking the freedom of whatever was left of the inmates of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camps. 

In Jerusalem and Poland, the gatherings brought together world leaders, activists, and more importantly, survivors of the camp, most of whom are now fragile with the passage of time. Their survival is incredible, given that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, 1.1 million alone in Auschwitz. 

The Holocaust as it is known was Adolf Hitler’s pogrom to exterminate the Jews even as he sought to gain supremacy of world power and the hinterland of the German nation.

The Nuremberg trials that sought to punish the perpetrators handed out stiff sentences, but the focus was on those who gave the orders, or were accused of unspeakable wrong-doing. But there are many suggesting elements in the Allied Forces helped some key figures to flee.

It is the credit of the determined groups that they were able to round up most of those that had fled, though their benefactors were never really pursued. But then, that is the way of the world. 

It has been no different in Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Vietnam, Korea, British India, and our own Bangladesh.

A combined variety of elements ranging from expediency of politics to money contributed to masterminds and cohorts not being brought to task. Bangladesh has taken its own trials for collaborators and Razakars directly involved in mass killings. 

And yet there are still many out there that for strange reasons have not been clearly identified. The latest venture to list Razakars fell on its face with the inclusion of renowned freedom fighters in the list. 

Bangladesh has also been limited by the Simla accord in seeking international trial of some 293 Pakistani officers that were known to have been accused of ordering or masterminding the killing fields of some 3 million martyrs.

The political intrigues within have been one of the reasons why it has taken this long, but with Awami League in power for over a decade, delays no longer stand to reason.

Analysts point to the nefarious intent of those who escaped the dragnet and made their way back in to mainstream politics, some intentionally and others surreptitiously. While it is easy to blame one party or the other, the time for accountability has approached, especially if the ambitious development agendas listed are to be attained.

Listening to the Holocaust survivors cause hairs to rise on end. The stories are no different from ours, only the place and time. 

It is a matter of regret that the women ravaged by the Pakistanis and their stooges have essentially been lost in history. Part of this was due to the abject shame of their being societally boycotted at the time. Part of it is because many aren’t alive. 

Those that are, are tired of the struggle they have been through and have their own grievances at the way the country has treated them. A handful of courageous ones, particularly those well-educated, stood up to be counted. 

But no one took account of the names and details that they provided, and worse, no one followed up. Without international and national efforts, the supreme sacrifices will never be documented for posterity in appropriate fashion.

And when a matter is not disposed of properly, there are hawks waiting to bite on the flesh of others. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.