Play in New Window |?Download
Forty years ago this month, the country of Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan. Then-President Richard Nixon supported Pakistan during the war because he wanted to prove the US would stand by an ally.
Many Americans disagreed with that stance. And when a ship headed for Pakistan with military equipment and ammunition was set to stop at a US port, one group of Americans felt it was necessary to get involved.
?I was ready to risk my life there,? says 78-year-old Richard Taylor. ?I just wanted to get in front of that ship.? Continue reading “American Activists and the Birth of Bangladesh”
As a grand finale to the victorious role played in the liberation of Bangladesh and to make their final withdrawal, the Indian Army held a farewell parade at the Dacca Stadium on March 12, 1972 where the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, took the salute. Photo shows Sheikh Mujibur Rehman reviewing the parade. Photo: The Hindu Archives
Even as the role of the Indian military in giving birth to the new nation is celebrated, the role of its intelligence services remains largely unknown.
Forty-five minutes before 12.00 pm on December 14, 1971, Indian Air Force pilots at Hashimpara and Gauhati received instructions to attack an unusual target: a sprawling colonial-era building in the middle of Dacca that had no apparent military value whatsoever.
There were nothing but tourist maps available to guide the pilots to their target ? but the results were still lethal. The first wave of combat jets, four MiG21 jets armed with rockets, destroyed a conference hall; two more MiGs and two Hunter bombers levelled a third of the main building.
Inside the building ? the Government House ? East Pakistan’s Cabinet had begun an emergency meeting to discuss the political measures to avoid the looming surrender of their army at Dacca 55 minutes before the bombs hit. It turned out to be the last-ever meeting of the Cabinet. A.M. Malik, head of the East Pakistan government, survived the bombing along with his Cabinet ? but resigned on the spot, among the burning ruins; the nervous system, as it were, of decision-making had been destroyed.
For years now, military historians have wondered precisely how the Government House was targeted with such precision; rumours that a spy was present have proliferated. From the still-classified official history of the 1971 war, we now know the answer. Indian cryptanalysts, or code-breakers, had succeeded in breaking Pakistan’s military cipher ? giving the country’s intelligence services real-time information on the enemy’s strategic decision-making.
India’s Army, Navy and Air Force were lauded, during the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence, for their role in ending a genocide and giving birth to a new nation. The enormous strategic contribution of India’s intelligence services, however, has gone largely unacknowledged.
Seven months before the December 3 Pakistan Air Force raid that marked the beginning of the war, India’s Chief of Army Staff issued a secret order to the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Command, initiating the campaign that would end with the dismemberment of Pakistan.
Operation Instruction 52 formally committed the Indian forces to ?assist the Provisional Government of Bangladesh to rally the people of East Bengal in support of the liberation movement,? and ?to raise, equip and train East Bengal cadres for guerrilla operations for employment in their own native land.?
The Eastern Command was to ensure that the guerrilla forces were to work towards ?tying down the Pak [Pakistan] Military forces in protective tasks in East Bengal,? ?sap and corrode the morale of the Pak forces in the Eastern theatre and simultaneously to impair their logistic capability for undertaking any offensive against Assam and West Bengal,? and, finally, be used along with the regular Indian troops ?in the event of Pakistan initiating hostilities against us.? Continue reading “India's secret war in Bangladesh”
A moment of crisis, a celebration, the unexpected, a dream realized, hidden truths, a reaffirmation of what we knew. Through TV screens, newspaper pages, giant electronic screens and tiny handsets, we gather, sift, scroll and parse news unfolding. Through twitter feeds, facebook and blogs, we circulate the news that we are fed, to inform, alert and mobilise those around us. Occasionally we question. The news photograph brings down powerful autocrats, highlights the plight of a single child, shines a spotlight on communities in strife, ignites the passion of victory, shares the tragedy of loss.
But the manufacture of consent has rarely been more engineered. With everything from wars to presidential campaigns being stage-managed and with mainstream news increasingly fed by official sources, reliance on usual sources of news images has become increasingly dangerous. Continue reading “People's News”
Maccabi Haifa striker Mohammed Ghadir believes that he and Beitar Jerusalem, the bad boy of Israeli soccer, are a perfect match.
“I am well suited to Beitar, and that team would fit me like a glove. I have no qualms about moving to play for them,” Mr. Ghadir is quoted by Israeli daily Ha?aretz as saying. Beitar has a large squad, a significant fan base, wide media coverge and lacks talented strikers, he says.
There is only one hitch: Beitar doesn?t want Mr. Ghadir. Not because he?s not an upcoming star and not because they wouldn?t need a player like Mr. Ghadir but because the striker is an Israeli Palestinian. “Our team and our fans are still not ready for an Arab soccer player,” Ha?aretz quotes Beitar?s management as saying. The club prides itself on being the only top league Israeli club to have never hired a Palestinian player in a country whose population is for 20 per cent Palestinian and in which Palestinians play important roles in most other top league teams. Continue reading “Taking Beitar to task: Mohammed Ghadir”
On 13 June 1971, an article in the UK’s Sunday Times exposed the brutality of Pakistan’s suppression of the Bangladeshi uprising. It forced the reporter’s family into hiding and changed history.
Abdul Bari had run out of luck. Like thousands of other people in East Bengal, he had made the mistake – the fatal mistake – of running within sight of a Pakistani patrol. He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling because he was about to be shot.
So starts one of the most influential pieces of South Asian journalism of the past half century.
Written by Anthony Mascarenhas, a Pakistani reporter, and printed in the UK’s Sunday Times, it exposed for the first time the scale of the Pakistan army’s brutal campaign to suppress its breakaway eastern province in 1971.
Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed, but certainly a huge number of people lost their lives. Independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died. The Bangladesh government puts the figure at three million. Continue reading “Bangladesh war: The article that changed history”
Americans can be arrested on home soil and taken to Guant?namo Bay under a provision inserted into the bill that funds the US military. Photograph: John Moore/Getty
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to?Guant?namo Bay. Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of “a war that appears to have no end”.Continue reading “Americans face Guant?namo detention after Obama climbdown”
By rahnuma ahmed
The accused — former President of the United States George W. Bush and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair — were tried in absentia at the tribunal’s hearings.
Their absence, presumably, was not due to lack of knowledge for the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) had duly served them notice on charges of committing Crimes against Peace.
Established in 2008, the Commission had received complaints from Iraqi war victims and those who had been incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo for short, termed America’s ‘Gulag’ by many, a reference to forced labour camps in the former Soviet Union) after being illegally detained in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009.
Statutory declarations sworn by the victims were presented to the Commission; these were subjected to questioning to verify whether the facts and experiences claimed by the victims before, and during, detention were true.
The Commission conducted an extensive study and investigation for nearly two years, and finalised its report in May 2011.
The investigation revealed that none of the victims, neither those imprisoned at Gitmo, nor the Iraqis, had been charged for any actual offences. Neither had they been given access to legal representation. The due process of international law had not been complied with. All international conventions on human rights, on the dignity of captives had been suspended.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq by the combined forces of the US (148,000), UK (45,000), Australia (2,000) and Poland (194) resulted in the death of 1.4 million Iraqis. Countless others have undergone torture, and untold hardship. The international community has not paid any attention to the cries of these victims (‘complaints had already been filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against both Bush and Blair, but the ICC had refused prosecution‘).
KLWCC was established to ‘fill this void.’ To act as the people’s conscience by providing an avenue for victims of aggression and occupation to file their complaints.
Charges were framed by the Prosecution division of the Commission. The first charge was against Messrs Bush and Blair for committing Crimes against Peace.
The second charge is against 8 US citizens, for committing Crimes of Torture and War Crimes. It includes George W. Bush and other members of his administration, 2001-2008: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Jay Bybee (assistant attorney general, infamous for signing the memo which approved the use of torture) and John Yoo (department of Justice official, author of the ‘torture’ memo) among others.
The first trial, a four-day hearing was held at the headquarters of the Al-Bukhary Foundation at Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, November 19-22, 2011.
The seven-member Tribunal was headed by retired Malaysian Federal Court judge Dato? Abdul Kadir Sulaiman (member of the Council of Regency, state of Terengganu), and included other well-known and widely-respected figures.
The chief prosecutor was professor Gurdial S. Nijar, whose team included professor Francis Boyle, professor in law, Illinois, USA, and other lawyers.
Since the accused were not present at the hearing, nor had they appointed any counsel to represent them, the Tribunal appointed an amicus curiae (someone not a party to the case), to defend them; the defense team was headed by Jason Kay Kit Leon.
‘Sparks flew’ on the very first day of the hearing, says Cynthia McKinney (former US congresswoman, the Green party’s nominee for President).
Before the actual proceedings could begin, the defence counsel charged that Judge Niloufer Bhagwat would not be ‘fair’ as she had been one of the Judges at the Tokyo International Tribunal for War Crimes in Afghanistan (2004), and a prosecutor of George W. Bush at the People’s Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul (2005).
In response, Francis Boyle argued that precedents exist at the International Court of Justice and the US Supreme Court, of judges rendering judgments ‘despite what might appear at first glance to be a conflict of interests.’ But Judge Bhagwat announced that she would recuse herself from Charge 1 deliberations; her decision was accepted and she left the Chambers. Judge Datuk Dr Zakaria Yatim too recused himself on objections made by the defence.
The defence’s next line of attack was that the Tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to consider the acts of the President and the Prime Minister. One anticipated by the prosecution which countered that, war crimes had been committed, that, by virtue of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission it had jurisdiction to hear cases of war crimes. That, its proceedings were also inspired by previous precedents such as, the Tribunal on US War Crimes in Vietnam convened in Sweden and Denmark by philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre (1967),?and the Tokyo Tribunal on Afghanistan.
Further, that international humanitarian law had developed in such a manner over the last fifty years so that ‘no head of state or nation can unilaterally renounce it.’ Nor, does the status of a head of state ‘constitute a defence.’
The Amicus Curiae entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of both the accused.
In his verdict, Chief judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman stated, ‘the essence of legality is the principled, predictable, and consistent application of a single standard for the strong and the weak alike.’ But powerful states had selectively manipulated the law which undermined its legitimacy.
The invasion of Iraq was ‘an unlawful act of aggression and an international crime.’ It ‘cannot be justified under any reasonable interpretation of international law.’ The UN Security Council’s resolution 1441 ‘clearly does not authorise the use of military action to compel its compliance.’
Bush had contemplated attacking Iraq as far back as September 15, 2001, and had confided his intention to Blair ? this is undisputable. ?Both had directed air strikes against Iraq in 2002 without the sanction of the UN Security Council in order to weaken Iraq’s air defences, to prepare for the invasion of 2003. The Downing Street Memo (July 23, 2002) recorded a meeting between Blair and his intelligence officials.?Blair had admitted this as much at the Chilcot inquiry on January 14, 2011 when he said that his attorney general Peter Goldsmith had advised him that a second Security Council resolution? was ‘necessary under international law to authorise the use of military force against Iraq.‘
What occurred in Iraq amounts to ‘mass murder.’ It also threatens the future of the UN and the international law of war. ‘The accused took the law into their own hands.’ They acted with ‘deceit and falsehood’, flagrantly violating the international law of war and peace.
Deceit and falsehoods were many for, Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Both Bush and Blair had admitted post-invasion that they knew intelligence reports on Iraq’s WMD were ‘unreliable.’
To bolster its arguments, the defence counsel mentioned Saddam Hussein’s brutality, his campaign of ethnic cleansing and use of chemical weapons against the Kurds and the Anfal campaign in 1988, but were unable to explain why US presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush senior had ‘sold Iraq chemical weapons and permitted their use.’
The defence also mentioned Al-Qaeda but there was ‘no credible evidence that Iraq had any connections with September 11, 2001 or with Al-Qaeda.’ Similarly, there was no evidence that Iraq was preparing ‘to invade or attack or threaten any nation.’
Iraq had been complying with UN inspections to disarm. The chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix had requested another 4 months, to which all UN Security Council members, except the US and UK, had agreed.?In order to obtain a new resolution, the US had ‘forged documents to accuse Iraq of trying to purchase raw materials for WMD on the international market’, while the UK, in the absence of any substantial evidence ‘plagiarized from a student thesis and tried to pass off an out-of-date student essay as an authoritative intelligence report.’
The defence had argued that the situation in Iraq justified ‘humanitarian intervention.’ But official documents submitted by the defence were mostly from one agency of the US government, the US Agency for International Development (USAid), which, according to the the director of the Agency itself, was ‘filled with US undercover intelligence agents and propagandists.’
While the defence cited authority contending that the September 11 attacks demonstrated ‘a change in the nature of the threats confronting the international community’, the prosecution introduced evidence to show that Bush was planning an ‘invasion of Iraq as early as February 1998,’ that the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) mentioned the utility of a ‘new Pearl Harbor’ to galvanise public opinion. And, as the chief judge pointed out in his verdict, no evidence was introduced to establish a ‘planning or operational connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 event’. On the contrary, it is quite probable that, as the prosecution had argued, 9/11 was used as a ‘pretext’ for the invasion of Iraq.
The verdict states, ‘Yet it is still unsettled, what the events of September 11, 2011 are all about.’
The defence attempted to conclude its proceedings by evoking the ’emotionalism of the September 11 tragedy.’ It ‘changed things’, argued the defence counsel. ‘Those of us old enough to have lived through it, who saw it, who could understand it at the time ? we knew instantly that the world would forever be a different place. In our hearts, we knew things would never be the same.’ But regrettably, instead of ‘forgiving’ the? perpetrators of 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo happened. ‘We are fallible human beings. We make mistakes.’
At this point the Judges interjected that a better defense would have been ‘temporary insanity.’ When the Defense team began playing a video of the planes hitting the Twin Towers, professor Boyle termed it a ‘continuation of the Bush administration’s propaganda campaign against Iraq.’
Since the charges against the two accused were proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, they were found guilty. These crimes, as the African news agency Mathaba points out, carry the death sentence in many jurisdictions (Bush and Blair Accused, November 21, 2011).
When the defence levelled the charge against Judge Bhagwat’s impartiality, Judge Alfred Webre noted that, although appropriate notice had been served on George W. Bush, he had failed to appear at various people’s tribunals which sought justice for those who had become victims as a result of his Presidential decisions. However, since president Bush had not failed to appear at a Vancouver dinner at which he collected a US$150,000 speaking fee, ‘perhaps the Tribunal should have offered [him] a sizeable speaking fee in order to [ensure] his attendance at the Tribunal.’
In an interview to Press TV, Francis Boyle explained that Bush and Blair have been ‘found guilty under the same law as applied to the Nazis after the end of World War II.’ ?[0:40/2:33]? They are both ‘international criminals [who are] guilty of Nuremberg crimes against peace and they should be prosecuted by any state in the world that gets hold of them.’ ‘We will continue our efforts to bring Bush, Blair to justice and put them in jail.
Boyle, by the way, has recently offered pro bono services to any member of Congress who will introduce a bill of impeachment against incumbent president Barack Obama. Citing specific cases which make Obama eligible for impeachment ? the murder of US citizens, the war against Libya ? he stressed that Obama had ‘gone far beyond Bush.’ While Bush had tried to justify his preventive war policy (which did violate the standards set by the Nuremberg Tribunal) by saying it was for the national defense, ‘Obama simply declares that if a nation is violating his sense of “values,” it is fair game.’ Prof. Francis Boyle Offers To Draft Bill To Impeach Obama, EIRNS press release, November 1, 2011).
The Tribunal recommended that the KLWCC file a report with the International Court of Crime against both under the Nuremberg principles, including reports of genocide and crimes against humanity. That, the names of both be entered into the Register of War Criminals and be publicised. That, the KLWCC publicise the Tribunal’s findings to all nations who are signatories of the Rome Statue, so that they can be prosecuted if they enter the jurisdiction of these nations. And, that the KLWCC should suggest the passage of a resolution in the UN General Assembly to end Iraq’s occupation and to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people.
But, since the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal does not have any ‘formal enforcement power, as professor Glenn Greenwald points out, what use was the Tribunal? Bush and Blair both ‘ignored’ the summons. Every serious political and media elite in the US would ‘scoff’ at the Tribunal, for, in their view, nothing could be more ‘fringe and ludicrous’ than punishing Bush and Blair as war criminals. So, why bother to hold it?
If the principles of Nuremberg (1945-1949) — the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis for having committed Crimes against Peace (planning, waging a war of aggression), War Crimes (violation of the laws or customs of war such as, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, wanton destruction of cities, towns, villages), and Crimes against Humanity (murder, enslavement, extermination, deportation) ? serves a ‘useful purpose’, then, so too does the Malaysian tribunal.
While McKinney thinks that the best thing to come out of the Tribunal was the need for conducting an ‘independent investigation of 9/11.’ As a matter of fact, when the Defence counsel had raised the issue of 9/11, Judge Webre had suggested that the Tribunal should next move on to allegations about 9/11 being a false flag operation, that ‘expert witnesses should be brought to testify before the Tribunal about the truth of the Bush adminstration’s explanation of what happened on that [day].’
As Bengalis are wont to say, kaan tanle matha ashey. Pull at the ear, along comes the head.
The book and the film celebrate 40 years of Bangladesh?s turbulent history. Through images by the finest photojournalists in the world and personal interviews of photographers, freedom fighters, refugees and care givers, they map the birth of the nation and record the pain and sacrifice of the ordinary Bangladeshi, in what was one of the most massive human displacements in recent times. ?There are brief references to the complexities facing modern Bangladesh and its hope for the future.
at the Chhayanaut Auditorium, House 72, Road 15A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209
at 11 am on Monday, 12 December 2011
For those of you who missed David Burnett’s brilliant presentation last night, this is a chance to meet him in person. David Burnett, Raghu Rai and Abdul Hamid Raihan are the three photographers interviewed in the film.
Please link with us at www.drik.tv and watch live web streaming of the launch .?The live streaming will commence at 11 am (Bangladesh time), on the 12th of December 2011.
Europe’s unification, a prelude to?global government
By rahnuma ahmed
The initiative of linking ‘governments and economies in Europe and North America amid the Cold War’ ? characterised as ‘an Aristocracy of purpose’ by Hatton in The Rape of the Constitution ? which brought together members of the ruling elite from either side of the Atlantic to Bilderberg meetings, was racial.
‘This conference wishes to explore a number of issues of great importance for Western civilization and is intended to stimulate mutual understanding and goodwill through a free exchange of views,’ said the invitation with a letterhead from the Soestdijk Palace. Signed by the Prince Consort of the Netherlands, Bernard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld, it requested invitees to attend the first-ever Bilderberg meeting (‘an informal International Conference’) to be held in Oosterbeek, Netherlands from May 29 to 31, 1954. Seventy personalities from 12 countries (11 west European ones, and the US) obliged.
As Thiery Meyssan rightly points out (Voltaire Network, May 9, 2011), it was the Cold War which determined that the issues of great importance for Western civilization ‘revolved around the struggles for communism’, but a distinct racial element, intertwined with Europe’s colonial powers and privileges (‘the white man’s burden’) was present. A sense of loss (of the white man’s purpose?) is palpable in the writings of Joseph Retinger, one of Bilderberg’s European founders, as he witnesses Europe’s colonies slip away around the mid-20th century: ‘The end of the period during which the white man spread his activities over the whole globe saw the Continent itself undergoing a process of internal disruption… there are no big powers left in continental Europe…? [whose] inhabitants after all, represent the most valuable human element in the world’ (The European Continent 1946).
Political independence and freedom for Asians and Africans was apparently ‘disruptive’ for European colonisers, who, in Retinger’s view, were infinitely more ‘valuable’ than the lesser humans who overthrew their rule.
European power needed to be re-created in a world where political de-colonisation had begun, where the white man’s rule was ending. To re-fashion ‘big power’ status — the white man’s ‘purpose’ –? it was necessary to integrate Europe. Nationalism stood in the way, admitted as much by Prince Bernhard, ‘It is difficult to re-educate people who have been brought up on nationalism to the idea of relinquishing part of their sovereignty to a supra-national body.’ European politicians had ‘failed’ in integrating Europe, said Fiat (Italian)’s head Giovanni Agnelli, adding assertively, ‘we, the old world elite intend to succeed’.
Leadership in this project was provided by sections of the wealthy and powerful elite of the New World (for that is how America was referred to after Columbus’ conquest). The nature of the project was further fleshed out by David Rockefeller, prominent in forming the Bilderberg Group on the American side, who argued at its June 1991 meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany, ‘The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers? is surely preferable to the national auto determination practiced in past centuries.’
One of the main goals of the Bilderberg Group was to unify Europe into a European Union. But before turning to that, I think it makes sense to briefly go over, recapitulate as well, how journalists and scholars who have seriously researched the Bilderberg Group, view it.
It can be best understood, says Andrew Gavin Marshall (foreign policy strategist), as an ‘international think tank aimed at constructing consensus and entrenching ideology among the elite.’ Michael Peters (sociologist) argues in favor of viewing it as a ‘power-elite network and forum’ which acts as an arena for the ‘conduct of intra-capitalist and and inter-corporate strategic debates and long-range social planning, from which wider ‘democratic’ interference is carefully excluded.’ Continue reading “CONCLUDING PART THE BILDERBERG CLUB”