BANGLADESH NEEDS “GENOCIDE DENIAL ACT”, SIMILAR TO HOLOCAUST DENIAL LEGISLATION, TO STOP ANTI-‘71 GROUPS
It is a matter of great regret and anguish that, with the up-rise of Shahbag generation, some news papers in Bangladesh are openly utilizing the power of press in creating unrest and anarchy in the country. The distortion of news to create sensation is not uncommon in Bangladesh. Many under-radar news papers and magazines exaggerate and twist facts to attract readers and to increase their circulation. This type of yellow journalism, although considered unprofessional and unethical, was overlooked from the freedom of press notion. But some recent media involvement in the prosecution of war criminals of 1971 war of independence, the attempt to manipulate prosecutorial process, the spreading of historical lies in favor of the charged war criminals, leaking insider information of the ongoing prosecution and finally defamation of the brutally killed blogger Rajib Haider through unsubstantiated, inciteful and dubious posts crossed all boundaries of decency, ethics or even legal limits.
The actions of the Pakistani army as well as their Bangladeshi collaborators and abettors, known as Razakars, killed three million Bangladeshi civilians, raped more than a quarter million women and brutally massacred top intellectuals. Currently the war crimes committed by the “Razakars” are being prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal (ICT) for the heinous atrocities they had committed during the 9 months of 1971. It was expected that people of Bangladesh, including visual and press media personnel, unanimously show due respect to the trial. But, unfortunately, one political party Jamaat-E-Islami Bangladesh, its leaders and followers and the press and visual media backed by the Jamaate-E-Islami Bangladesh are in denial of the 1971 genocide committed by the Pakistani army and Razakars. Daily Naya Diganta, Dainik Shangram and Daily Inquilab and in particular Daily Amar Desh, are distorting the facts of 1971 and also spreading false news to provoke mass people by using religious sentiments. These news papers are not only defaming the people who actively support the war criminal prosecution but also using Islamic sentiment in an attempt to distract from the overwhelming mass demand of Justice against war criminals as well as the killing of the ICT activist by alleging him as an atheist and spreading anti-Islamic propaganda on his name. They have also been questioning the intention of the current Government for trying the war criminals. These news papers have a big influence on today’s (February 22, 2013) violence launched by the so called “Islamist” groups. Today at least four people were killed and over 150 inured, including 7 journalist, many of them with bullets, when Jamaat and Shibir activists clashed with police and ruling party men in most big cities in Bangladesh , .This is the direct result of the false and abusive news spread by these news papers about the anti-Islamic mentality of some of the Shahbag activists. They clearly are trying to use Islamic sentiment of the pious and religious Bangladeshis to stop the movement of “Generation 2013”.
This has to be stopped. Although in Bangladesh, news media enjoys freedom of speech but there should be a limit to that, at least when it comes to our center of pride, the war of independence in 1971. What cannot to be tolerated under any circumstances is their manipulation of facts regarding our independence war to support a particular ideological position and hiding their anti Bangladesh feeling under the guise of free speech. It is time for the Bangladesh Government to pass a legislation to prosecute anyone, specially in the media, who shows denial, questions or distorts the 1971 war facts, or shows support for convicted war criminals. The Holocaust denial legislation enacted by Israel and the twelve European countries (Spain, Romania, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, Poland, France, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic) can be taken as an example where it stipulates that “A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement denying or diminishing the proportions of acts committed in the period of the Nazi regime which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, with intent to defend the perpetrators of those acts or to express sympathy or identification with them, shall be liable to imprisonment for five years”. Even U.S.A, the country where the freedom of speech is protected under first amendment, prevents Holocaust denial speech or activities if it poses imminent threat of violence.
Our war of independence in 1971 is a source of all our inspiration. It defines us as a nation. Each and every Bangladeshi, irrespective of their religious, political and cultural views, must be respectful about the 1971 facts. It is one of largest genocides in the history of the world where most of the talented Bangladeshi brains were killed in a very planned and systematic way. People who support the 1971 genocide or in denial about its facts actually try to establish either of the followings: create public sympathy for the war criminals under trial, undermine the legitimacy of the State of Bangladesh, or plant seeds of doubt about their own acts during the war. It is imperative for the Bangladesh Government to act wisely and decisively to bring a legislation to stop denial and distortion of 1971 facts. Until then you, the Shahbag generation, stay alert and stay vigilant.
 ‘Jamaat activists’ go berserk in capital, BDNews24.com (February 22, 2013)
 4 killed, 150 hurt in clashes across country, Daily Star Bangladesh (February 24, 2013)
 The full text of the law is published in Sefer HaChukkim, Number 1187 of Tammuz 9, 5746 (July 16, 1986), page 196.
Submitted by A Mother [Guest] on Fri, 22/02/2013