It is claimed that nearly 200,000 — 400,000 women and girls were systematically raped and tortured by the Pakistani Army as a war strategy in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
In 2010, I filmed 21 of these Birangona women’s first-hand accounts at a centre near Dhaka. Birangona means ‘Brave Woman’.
After the interview one woman said, ” what’s the point of telling these stories? Nothing happens.’ And it is true nothing has happened because no one wants to tell their stories.
Post-war Bangladeshi society and successive governments haven’t been able to figure out what to do with them. Although the first leader of Bangladesh tried to rehabilitate these women by giving them the name ‘Birangona’ as a mark of respect and recognition, society rejected them anyway and denied their existence. They were forgotten and so were their stories.
AS I GO TO SUPPORT BANGLADESHI ACTIVISTS WHO ARE DEMANDING THAT HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS STAND WITH THE VICTIMS OF 1971. MY LETTER TO A FORMER COLLEAGUE AT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
I write this with a heavy heart as I know that you are one of the few at Amnesty International, fully conscious of the dangers of fundamentalism and no friend of the pro-jihadi faction. I know you have done much to raise awareness of the human rights issues which are raised whenever fundamentalists press their agenda. You have fought against declaring Ahmaddiyas as ‘non-Muslim’ and explained to colleagues the importance of moving fast to prevent bad legislation being put in place. Complaining atrocities have happened is simply not good enough. They should be prevented in the first place.
Nick Cohen with an excellent piece on how the Shahbag demonstrations formed the space for a battle between secular Bangladeshis and Jamaat-e-Islami supporters in a park in Whitechapel. And the ongoing story of how the establishment and Britain’s liberal Left continues to enable fascist streams in political Islam, in particular, Jamaat-e-Islam.
Do I hear you say that Bangladesh is far away and the genocide was long ago?
Not so far away. Not so long ago. And the agonies of Bangladeshi liberals are nothing in comparison to the contradictions of their British counterparts.
The conflict between the Shahbag and Jamaat has already reachedLondon. On 9 February, local supporters of the uprising demonstrated in Altab Ali Park, a rare patch of green space off the Whitechapel Road in London’s East End. They were met by Jamaatis. “They attacked our men with stones,” one of the protest’s organisers told me. “There were old people and women and children there, but they still attacked us.”
Rajib Haider who blogged under the name of ‘Thaba Baba’ was one of the blogger activists of the Shahbag youth uprising in Bangladesh. Yesterday came news that Rajib was slaughtered in Dhaka close to his home. His throat and wrists were slit, in signature Chaatra Shibir (Jamaat-e-Islam’s student wing) style, and he was left to die.
Ahmed Rajib Haider, 26, was an active participant of the ongoing nonstop demonstrations at Shahbagh demanding death sentences for all ‘war criminals’.
Officer-in-Charge of Pallabi Police Station Abdul Latif Sheikh told bdnews24.com that they recovered Shuvo’s body from Laalmatia’s Palashnagar around 9pm.
He said the face bore signs of slashes. A scarf was wrapped around the blogger’s throat, Sheikh added.
This was not a simple mugging case as police said the deceased’s laptop was found near the body of the architect.
Saad Z Hossain writes a piece which perfectly encapsulates the public sentiments regarding the fascist culture of Jamaat encroaching into public life and what the Youth Uprising at Shahbag think about it:
What do you expect the government to do? Shoot at unarmed women and children? Slaughter college kids and shopkeepers? The demands of Shahbagh and the AL overlap to some extent. That is not surprising given the universal hatred for Razakars this country once felt in ‘71. The fact that politicians have since seen fit to worm these men back into power does not mean they were ever rehabilitated in the eyes of the common people. The fact that most people in the country hate Razakars, including the sitting government, should not really detract from the legitimacy of the cause.
On the BBC Radio 4 show ‘Hecklers’, Gita Sahgal takes on the combined force of the Islamists Tahmina Saleem (Islamic Society Britain), Tariq Ramadan (freelance Islamist), Nazir Ahmed (House of Lords), Moazzam Begg (Cage Prisoners) and Daud Abdullah (Muslim Council of Britain)
It is with some quiet satisfaction that I read this article by the highly regarded Pakistani journalist and commentator Ayesha Siddiqa. The points I have been making on Pakistan over the past year, she confirms. She writes forcefully, but not without a hint of resignation and sadness, on two main points:
1) The public institutions of the judiciary, executive and military have been infiltrated by far-right religious-nationalist groups (such as the Jamaat or Tehreek-i-Taliban – let’s use the term Islamists to define them) to such an extent that the autonomy and legitimacy of civil institutions have been deeply compromised.
As the Jamaat-e-Islam here in London gear up their lobby groups to agitate for impunity for their Bangladeshi numbers involved in genocide, their fellows in Jamaat-e-Islam Pakistan are calling for their assassin, Mumtaz Qadri to be pardoned by presidential decree. Qadri, you will remember, was the bodyguard of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, whom Qadri shot in broad daylight. Taseer was killed because he publicly criticised Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law which has been used as a blunt tool to repressreligious minorities. JI says anyone can file a pardon plea on behalf of the sentenced person whether they wish it or not.
This is a cross-post by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens at Standpoint
In last week’s issue of the Spectator, Peter Oborne threw his weight behind a faction within the coalition government, headed by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who are urging David Cameron and some of his closest allies to re-asses their current stance on the role Islamist groups should play both in the direction of British Islam and in the government’s counter-radicalisation efforts. He believes that Cameron’s Neoconservative cabal in Whitehall has fundamentally misunderstood what constitutes extremist Islam, and is mistaken in its rejection of a wide array of British Islamist organisations. Instead, he thinks Cameron and his close allies must understand that non-violent Islamist groups can act as a useful bulwark against violent extremism. As well as being flawed, his argument also reveals a surprisingly low opinion of Britain’s Muslims.