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Expiating our original sin

  • Published at 08:32 pm December 12th, 2013

Our failure to bring to justice those who were guilty of war crimes against the Bangladeshi people in 1971 was always our original sin as a nation.

The fact that those who had committed such wrongs should have been able to walk free with impunity and rise to the heights of power in independent Bangladesh was a national disgrace.

It has taken 42 years for this wrong to be righted, but at 10:01pm on December 12, 2013, with the hanging of the infamous Butcher of Mirpur, Quader Molla, the dead of 1971 finally received a measure of justice.

The damage done to our national psyche that has come out of our failure to fully come to terms with the Liberation War has been immense. Can a nation in which war criminals can hold their heads up high, arrogant and unbowed, ever move forward and face the future with confidence and assurance?

It is a question of simple justice. The message that was transmitted through our failure to hold the guilty accountable was as simple as it was chilling. If not even crimes of the magnitude of murder and rape and running death squads merited punishment, then what did this say to the common man and woman in Bangladesh?

If those who had committed acts of unbelievable cruelty and brutality during the course of opposing our independence could not only escape punishment for their crimes, but be given pride of place in independent Bangladesh, then what did this say about the country we had built?

At long last, we have finally begun to honour the memory of the dead by holding to account those who were guilty of war crimes in 1971.