The Massacre in Bangladesh

hefazat 5may police attack

by Dr Firoz Mahboob Kamal

The war of annihilation

The ruling Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) and its political cronies have launched a genocidal war against its own people. The aim is to annihilate the resurgent Islamists. The country’s constitution provides basic human rights to all of its citizens –irrespective of their race, religion and political belief. That entails full freedom in politics. So, everyone should have the equal rights in rallying on streets, venting views in meetings, and expressing opinions in TV, newspapers and other media outlets. But the BAL-led ruling ultra-secular clique is not ready to give such rights to the Islamists. They think the country belongs only to them, no to the Islamists. They also claim that in 1971 Bangladesh was created out of Pakistan only for practicing secularist plus nationalist politics, not for political Islam. So after coming to power in 2008, the BAL government gives unfettered rights to the anti-Islamic radical activists to hold rally for any number of days or months on any streets of Dhaka. They are so hardcore anti-Islamist that a constitutional announcement like “we trust in Allah” was not acceptable to them. So such sentence inserted in non-BAL era was deleted. For more than 2 months, the secularist cronies of BAL were instigated to occupy Shahbag – Dhaka’s one of the busiest traffic hubs to demand death sentence for all arrested Islamists and to ban all Islamic political parties. But such right was not given to the Islamists to hold any rally in Dhaka’s any street corner for even a single hour.

Such politics of exclusion was firstly incorporated in the country’s constitution in 1972 by Shaikh Mujibur Rahman -the father of the current Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina. Mujib gave full political rights to the secularists, socialists and communists, but not to the Islamists. He made all the Islamic parties constitutionally illegal and their leaders were put behind the bar. Such extreme fascism and radical anti-Islamism was indeed the BAL’s model of democracy. In his final days, Shaikh Mujib went further to make Bangladesh a perfect police state: he introduced one-party dictatorial rule and snatched all basic human rights from people of all denominations. Except four government owned dailies, he closed publication of all newspapers. During his one-party rule, Bangladesh became a killing field of all democratic values. He killed more than 30 thirty thousand opposition activists. And he never investigated a single death, therefore none was ever punished. However, he couldn’t continue for long, he met his own fate. After his forceful eviction from power and death in 1975, Bangladesh again entered into political plurality. Along with others, the Islamist too, gained the equal human rights, and entered into politics.

Conspiracy of Judicial Murder

But the current Prime Minister Mrs. Hasina Wajed –daughter of Shaikh Mujib is not happy to see the resurgent Islamists enjoying any political rights. She wants to take the country back to her father’s autocratic rule. Like Mujib, she too, wants to abrogate all democratic rights of the Islamists. She has already put most of the Islamist leaders behind the bars. But there is a difference. She is not happy to see the Islamists survive even in prisons; she is desperate to take their lives. Her party workers are let loose on the street to demand death sentence for these arrested Islamist leaders. The BAL cadres, the police and the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) armed members have already killed hundreds of Islamists on the streets in last several months, but they are not happy with that. They are now demanding that the country’s tamed judiciary must involve in committing quick judicial murder of these Islamists. A court named International Crime Tribunal (ICT) was formed with hand-picked pro-BAL judges to do the job.  Offices are set up to manufacture cases against the Islamists, especially for their support for a united Pakistan in 1971. One of the Islamist leaders Mr. Abdul Qader Mollah was given a life-term jail, but the Shahbag mob was not happy with the judgment. They wanted his death sentence, and nothing less than that. They wanted death sentence for every one of the arrested Islamic leaders.

To generate a supportive political environment for such political cum judicial execution, the government sponsored ultra-secularists and radical atheists started holding extremely provocative political show in Shahbag -a roundabout in the capital Dhaka. To add fuel to such provocation, and to support BAL’s politics of annihilation, the whole government propaganda machineries were deployed to live cast day and night the war cry of the Shahbag show. Thus, the judicial right of writing an independent verdict was taken away from the jurists by the BAL backed political mob; the judges were made subservient to the mob ruling at Shahbag. So, the ugly days of lynch court returned back to Bangladesh.  Even the Prime Minister Hasina gave preference to mob’s verdict to ICT judgment. In her speech in the parliament, she told that the judiciary must honour the demands that are raised in the streets.

The Politics of Massacre

Mrs. Hasina wants to go far beyond her father’s legacy. She does not wish to see even the survival rights for the Islamists. So, she has already started a bloody war against them. In Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its student wing Islami Chatra Shibir (BCS) constitute the strongest Islamic force: hence become the prime targets of BAL’s killing machine. Hasina’s Home Minister Mr. Mohiuddin Alamgir did not hide such motive either. In front of the press, he ordered the country’s police force and the BAL party hooligans to kill JI and BCS men wherever and whenever they find them. And the same order was given by Dhaka’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mr Benzir Ahmed. These were published in Dhaka’s newspapers. And one can easily see the impact of such official directives on the streets. Since such announcement of the official directive from the top, hundreds of JI and ICS activists have already been killed by the police and BAL cadres, and many thousands are languishing in the jails and being brutally tortured. Very recently, Hefajat-e-Islam (HI)-– a non-political outfit of the teachers and the students of the country’s thousands of religious institutions, emerged as a very strong political force. In fact, they brought an earth quake in Bangladesh politics. Their influence in the countryside is immense. On April 6, they held about 3 million strong protest rally in Dhaka: hence overnight became the prime target of the ruling BAL and its coalition. Hence invited the fiercest wrath from the government: on May 5, Hefajat-e-Islam people met with most horrendous genocide in Bangladesh history.

In its war against people, the government has now heavy recruits. In the rank of extrajudicial official killers, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) cadres are not alone. The police, the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) and the armed thugs of the ruling party are also drawn into the battle. Like RAB, they are also given the same rights and the same immunity. Now in Bangladesh, the biggest gang of murderers is not any terrorist outfit or organization of robbers, but these government security agencies.

Whatever happened on May 5, 2013 has clearly revealed that how helplessly hostages are the common people. It also exposed the government’s extreme barbarism and fascism. The government has abrogated not only the basic human rights, rather denied rights of physical survival. On May 5, hundreds of thousands of people came from all over the country to Dhaka to hold a peaceful sit-in protest to show their anger against the government’s extreme anti-Islamic policy. The protest rally was organized by Hefazat-e-Islam to press on their 13 points demands. Only a month ago on April 6, Hefazat-e-Islam had a long march rally; the government did everything to make it a failure. The BAL affiliated transport owners’ associations and the labour unions called for a two nights and two days strike to bring a total halt to the country’s land and water transport network -so that the people cannot join the march. But still it was great success. About 3 million people marched from all over the country to Dhaka. Such a mammoth gathering never happened in Bangladesh politics. And it was remarkably peaceful. Such an unprecedented success on April 6 transfused a new level of confidence and vigor to the country’s Islamists: but that heavily enraged the ruling BAL and its cronies.

On May 5, they government had a massive plan to crush the newly built confidence of the Islamists. So, this time they decided not to give any space and opportunity for any display of their strength. They feared thant any massive display of Islamists’ force could only lead to an overwhelming mass up-rise, which might overthrow even the BAL government. The people’s hatred against the government never appeared so high, and the participation in protest rally was so immense that even the opposition leader Khaleda Zia was inspired to declare 48 hours’ ultimatum against the government for a care-taker government. The BAL felt it an existential threat, hence went down a bloody war path.

The Blood Bath

At night on May 5, more than a hundred thousand people were in sit-in protest in the streets of Motijheel commercial care in Dhaka. Some of these people were very exhausted after a day-long street battle with the BAL’s armed hooligans, and many of them were sleeping on streets. Some were praying or reciting praises for Allah SWT. It was about 2:30 AM in the night of May 6, suddenly the street lights were switched off and a deep darkness engulfed the whole area. In such darkness, thousands of heavily armed men launched a brutal attack on these unarmed civilians. The whole area was engulfed with bullets, shells and smokes. According to Daily Jugantar –a Bengali daily of Dhaka (12/05/13), 7, 588 armed personnel took part in the assault. The attacking forces were picked up from 3 armed organizations: 1,300 from RAB, 5,712 from Police and 576 from BGB. These are the people who are duty-bound to save citizen’s life, but turned their guns to shoot the same taxpayers who pay money to keep them in jobs.

The attacking troops were commanded by a group of army officers. The Daily Jugantar also published their names. They were the intelligence chief of RAB Lt. Colonel Ziaul Hasan, the RAB-10 commander Lt.Colonel Imran, the RAB-3 commander Major Shabbir, the RAB director Lt. Colonel Kismat Hayat, the RAB-4 director Kamrul Ahsan and the BGG officer Colonel Yahiha Azam. Five commando officers also took part in the assault. The Daily Jugantar also reported that 155, 000 shells of live bullets and other ammunition have been fired on that night. Since midday of 5th May, the police used 80,000 tear gas shells, 60,000 rubber bullets, 15,000 shotguns and 12, 000 sound grenades. The attacking troops launched their attack from three directions. Like a formal war, this war too has its own battle cry and names. The RAB named it “Operation Flash-out” and the BGB called it “Capture Shapla”. It is also reported that this war on the unarmed protestors went on for three long hours, and ended at 5:30 am on May 6. So the government’s myth that Motijheel area was cleared off the HI Islamists in 10 minutes appears to be a flagrant lie. The amount of lethal arms used in this war was massive. Such an amount of ammunitions were not used by Pakistan’s law enforcing agencies to suppress mass protests in the entire 24 years of Pakistani period.

The Culprits Exposed

The number of deaths is still not known. But those who survived are revealing horrendous experience. They saw numerous dead bodies scattered on streets. They also saw bodies being dumped in the Dhaka Municipality’s huge garbage collecting vans. One of the private TV channel reporters reported that he has himself seen 5 truckloads of dead bodies taken away from only one site. Despite all the precautions, the killers cannot hide all the evidences of their crimes. They always leave behind some clues in the killing fields. The government could stop the TV live casts, but could not shut people’s eyes and stop private live videos. Hence true pictures are now appearing in media and the internet. These depict a huge massacre with genocidal dimensions. Asian Human Right Commission told that more than 2500 people are killed. Hefajat-e-Islam claimed that about 2000 are killed. The opposition party BNP told more than a thousand have been slaughtered in that black night. Al-Jazera TV showed pictures of numerous dead bodies lying on the street, and also showed many graves in one of Dhaka’s graveyards where bullet-shot dead people were secretly buried by the police in late night of May 6. Although the real number of deaths will never be known, but there exists no doubt about the intensity and brutality of the huge crime. And it has exposed the criminal motive of the BAL government. Indeed, as the real culprit, the Government has made its point clearly known to the public, and that will survive in the coming history.

The Official Killers

The ruling BAL has lost its political capital and skills to fight its enemies politically. For its wrong policies and dismal corruption, BAL’s support has already touched its lowest ebb. BAL knows, by a fair election it has no chance to return to the power. But BAL and its mentor India need power to pursue their long cherished policy. Otherwise, India’s whole political investment will go with the wind forever, and Bangladesh will emerge as the hot bed of Islamic resurgence in the South Asia. India can seldom swallow such a reality. So they have no option but to stay in power by any means -whatever bloody it may be. It appears that they have undertaken two prongs strategy: The strategy of electoral manipulation, and the strategy of physical extermination of the political opponents. For electoral manipulation, BAL has abolished the care-taker government system. Now, Hasina herself has taken the charge of the game-fixer. In election in Bangladesh, he who masterminds the election game is the sure winner. It gives him or her an immense manipulative power. No amount of votes can defeat him. So in 1991, in order to eliminate such foul play of a sitting government, all political parties came to a consensus formula of installing a non-partisan caretaker government under a retired Supreme Court chief justice for arranging the parliamentary election. But BAL has abolished that system and made a constitutional change to return back to the same old days of foul play, although it fought a fierce battle for a caretaker government in 1991. BAL has used its cronies in the judiciary to justify the new move. So now, all the opposition parties together, have little chance to defeat BAL in the coming election. In the past, they could not unseat even the unpopular dictators like president Gen. Ayub Khan and Gen. Ershad in the presidential election.

For its strategy of physical extermination of the political opponents, BAL has its own game plan. It has installed enough cronies in police, RAB, BGB and in the civil and military institutions. On 5th and 6th May they have shown their commitment to work as the BAL government’s most obedient official killers. In fact, Bangladesh is one of the few countries in the world where the right of extrajudicial murder is given to the country’s paramilitary forces. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was formed to do that job. In Bangladesh, a district judge cannot hang even a serial murderer without ratification of his judgment by the country’s high court. But a RAB foot soldier can kill scores of innocent man or women without fear of any accountability. Indeed, RAB is very rapid in doing such job. After such killing, these government murderers only need to put a tag on the unarmed deceased that he died in an armed encounter or a suicidal death under the custody. Such deaths with such description also get published on the front page of the tamed media. Only the deceased are blamed each time, therefore he or she has to die with an official tag of disgrace. The RAB cadres always claim innocence. And, the excuse is always the same: that they opened fire only in self-defense. The family members of the deceased are not allowed to raise any voice against the alleged allegation, nor can demand any postmortem or judicial enquiry. The official killers always enjoy full immunity against any prosecution; but the common man hasn’t any. As a part of the annihilation strategy, not only the political murders are getting rampant, political disappearance has also dramatically increased. The official killers appear in plain clothes, at any place and at any time. They kidnap the political targets from their home, business or from their way, and they never returns. This way, many opposition leaders from BNP and JI have already disappeared.

The De-humanizing Industry

Those who can beat and kill innocent people, their problems are much deeper. On May 6, such a massacre did not happen out of the blue. Something has been fatally wrong for a long time in the moral fabric of the people involved. The killing at night exposed that the country’s social and moral pathology is awful. In the making of a civilization, institutions must work hard to add higher values to the people. Higher culture and higher civilizations were never made by adding values only to agricultural, mineral or industrial goods, rather by adding higher values to humans. Only then, the people with higher morality can grow and flourish. Here is the importance of the book of Divine guidance and educational institutions. But in Bangladesh, things are happening otherwise: the dehumanization has become the dominant norm. Instead of adding higher values, huge number of people and institutions are working day and night -both in private and public sectors, to degrade humans’ inherent moral attributes. The morality has touched such a low level that one of the BAL’s student leaders could dare openly celebrate century of rape in Dhaka’s Jahangir Nagar University campus. It happened while Mrs. Hasina was ruling for her first term as the Prime Minister. The event made big news in the media, but Hasina’s government did nothing against this dehumanized criminal. Thousands of such criminals are roaming in the streets in broad day lights. But the government is busy in raising its swords only against the Islamists.

Bangladesh was labelled in recent history as the most corrupt country in the world for 5 consecutive years. Such disgrace on the world stage cannot be earned by chance; rather requires an actively acquired moral decline. In Bangladesh, it is indeed the works of the country’s huge dehumanization industries. The government organizations like police, RAB, BGB, judiciary, bureaucracy, political parties, even the universities are such high performing dehumanization industries. When a corrupt political gang grabs state power, then whole the government institutions and the education system become the subservient tools in their hands to spread corruption and misrule. For that, Bangladesh is a perfect example. Even torturing and killing people have become institutionalized. The level of dehumanization is so grave that they do not generate even an iota of respect for the political or ideological opponents: the recent videos on May 5 and 6 atrocities provide ample testimony to that. To them, the dead bodies of these innocent Islamists were disposable garbage. They damped their bodies in garbage collecting vans only to hide them in some unknown place. Such a display of institutional inhumanity is not new in Bangladesh. Bangladesh people saw similar cruelty on February 25, 2009 in Dhaka’s Pilkhana barrack. On that day, the same brand of the BGB killers of May 6 -known as the BDR cadets in 2009, displayed the same level of savagery. That time, it was against their own officers. They killed 57 army officers and dumped their dead bodies in sewer gutters.

The State Terrorism

It is has been reported in the press that the government was warned about the possible huge human costs of any armed crackdown on the mammoth gathering of May 5 and 6. But the bloodthirsty government of Mrs. Hasina ignored it, and allowed the operation to go ahead. It appears from the video that the government’s aim was not to disperse these protesters peacefully, rather to kill and terrorize them. The government does not have any proof that there was any armed protestor in the whole area of Motijheel. So the question arises, was it so difficult to disperse these unarmed people? Tear gas and water cannons were enough to perfectly do the job –as has been seen in other parts of the world. But BAL government wanted otherwise. They wanted to show their own military might and political extremism. In any definition, it was bare state terrorism. Asian Human Rights Commission claims that more than 2,500 people were killed on that night. Hefazat-e-Islam claims that about 2 thousands are killed. However, to hide the massacre from public eyes, the government’s preparations were huge. Before the formal assault, the government evacuated all media reporters from the area. Diganta TV and the Islamic TV were still continuing their live cast from the mass gathering, but it was abruptly stopped before the assault. Many garbage vans were stationed nearby to quickly collect and hide the dead bodies. Many water supply tanks were used to wash the blood-bathed streets.

The Transparent Lies

While the Prime Minister Mrs. Hasina and her cabinet colleagues are tongue-tied on number of deaths, some of her party leaders are telling transparent lies. Their motive is clear: they want to keep the people in total darkness. The BAL’s joint secretary Mr. Hanif told the reporters that none was killed in the operation. To reduce the magnitude of the massacre and to hide their own crimes, they have concocted a different story. They are claiming that the whole operation lasted only for 10 minutes. They are using this 10 minutes’ plea as a pretext to frame new arguments that the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people in such a short time are unthinkable. But they are not telling that how a troop of 7,588 armed fighters could be deployed in Motijheel and later on withdrawn in 10 minutes? They are not telling either, how a crowd of more than hundred thousand people could be dispersed within such a short period of time? Even the Government’s embedded crony journalists could not produce even a single picture of peaceful dispersion of the protestors. Rather many photographs and video have already appeared in youtube depicting that brutal massacre.

The RAB and the BGB chiefs too, have concocted the story. They appeared in the TV to tell lies that they used means only to peacefully disperse the people from the protest site. But they did not explain how those means of dispersing crowd could kill and lacerate people in huge numbers.  Rubber bullets and tear gas shells do not lacerate bodies, nor do they kill people. The numerous pictures of the dead bodies and the live videos tell otherwise. Hundreds of dead bodies were found lying in blood bath. The life videos show thunderous firing of shells and live bullets. These pictures are circulating through the internet worldwide. If the operation was meant to be so benign and bloodless, why it was not done in front of the fully present media and in broad day light? The Daily Jugantar reported that the troops carried AK-7 rifles, light machine guns, grenades and other modern ammunitions. These lethal weapons are not used to disperse people but to kill people. Indeed, deaths of hundreds proved that these deadly weapons were not taken there for a show, but were deliberately used to kill people.

Source: Dr Firoz Mahboob Kamal