A War Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh has handed a 90 year old sentence to 91 year old Jama’at-e-Islami leader Professor Ghulam Azam for war-crimes the court said were committed in league with Pakistan military in the war of 1971. Naturally the reason why he was not given the death sentence was because of his age and health but the long punishment is just meant to convey the intensity of the sentence, especially since Mr Azam is already past the twilight of his life. Justice is meant to be blind but even then it is thought to have mercy.
Reports are that a few people have died as a result of the clashes between demonstrators protesting both for and against the verdict, which for one thing shows the kind of polarisation dividing the Bangladeshi society. Recently, the unrest has been hitting towns and cities all over the country; large-scale disturbances were witnessed this February in the wake of the death sentence of another Jama’at leader Dilawar Hussain Syedee also for war crimes in 1971 war.
Now the Jama’at has censured professor Azad’s sentence as politically motivated. But whether political or not, the case appears to be that Bangladesh is now at a juncture where it is intent upon dredging up the relics of the 1971 war even at some cost to its stability. These are not easy decisions for anyone to digest, neither for the court giving the verdicts nor for the Jama’at or the general public. There is absolutely no harm in going back in time to set the record straight but the way that is being done is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Those who are making amends for history must remember to distinguish themselves from those who left their blood marks on it.
(Courtesy: The Nation)
Republished in The Balochistan Point on July 17, 2013