I read Daily Star (Dhaka) Editor Mahfuz Anam’s “Underlying meaning of war crimes trial: Giving Sheikh Hasina her due” (Daily Star, 14 Jan 2012) with deep interest. He offers generous accolades to Sheikh Hasina for the arrest of the veteran political leader Professor Ghulam Azam (1922 -). It seems that, according to people like Anam, the punishment of the 89-year old man through the kangaroo court of the so-called International Crimes Tribunal will solve all our problems.
In Mahfuz Anam’s imagination, the arrest of Ghulam Azam has redressed all the blatant misdeeds and misrule of Sheikh Hasina for the last more than three years. According to those who look after foreign interests in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina deserves thanks not only for the repression on opposition leaders, but also for innumerable political murders, disappearances, unrest at universities, border killings and the silence of the Bangladesh regime, the stealth of our share market, the eating out of our reserve fund at the central bank, the capture of our private job market by the Indian nations, the loss of our territorial integrity, the Farakka and Tipaimukh barrages, etc?
Unfortunately, all these bleak pictures are now being covered up on the plea of Awami League’s leading role during the liberation war of 1971. I believe millions of our freedom fighters from all walks of life and from all political denominations did not fight against the misrule of Pakistan for such a Bangladesh. How long will people like Anam distract our attention from the true problems of our nation?
These are existential issues for us, the Bangladeshis, who have no other land to migrate when the country’s economy and geographical integrity are completely destroyed. People like Mahfuz Anam have many foreign (not to mention Indian) friends in whose lap they can have good times at the expense of the sufferings of the ordinary Bangladeshis. The ‘freedom fighter’ certificate may not be enough to cover up the treasonous activities of such clever brains who have sold their souls to their foreign masters. Our memory is not that short that we will forget the 1/11 episode so soon. People in Bangladesh can identify very well the architects of the 2-year military-backed rule that followed the 1/11 drama. We do not want to hear lectures from those who made that happen.
It jars on my ears when such people flaunt their supposed freedom fighter credential, while their subservience to our latest colonizer, India, is pretty obvious. Do we have to believe that the cowards of 2012 fought the daredevil battle of 1971 to liberate our country from the clutch of Pakistani rulers? Do we have to believe that people who write articles keeping the wishes of Indian High Commission in Dhaka in mind spoke out against the oppression of the then West Pakistani rulers? Do we have to believe that people who regularly visit Indian High Commission in Dhaka for a bottle of wine did not touch the feet of Pakistani rulers for similar purposes? Do we have to believe that people who turn a blind eye to the regular killings of Bangladeshis by Indian security forces in the border region felt sorry for the sufferings of our people during Pakistani misrule? Do we have to believe that people who feel scared to protest against Sheikh Hasina’s totalitarianism were brave enough to criticize the tyranny of Pakistani rulers? These are embarrassing questions, but I think for our national interest these questions should be discussed in public forums now.
People like Mahfuz Anam may have many reasons to thank Sheikh Hasina whose government provide them with the camouflage and smokescreen that they use to hide their real identity. While our country is being exploited and our country people are being oppressed on fronts by the hegemonic neighboring country, these people love to live in the past and thus distract our attention. Mahfuz Anam and the likes may feel obliged to send thank-you notes Sheikh Hasina. We the ordinary Bangladeshis are sorry that we have no good reasons to shower her with great compliments.