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Friday, December 26, 2014, Poush 12, 1421, Robiul Awal 3, 1436 Hijr

Need for ?Genocide Denial Law? gains ground in BD
Published : Friday, 26 December, 2014,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 41

Anaet Shawon
Bangladesh needs a law similar to the "Holocaust Denial Law" in Germany, as has been reiterated by veteran journalist Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, echoing the sentiments of many who had witnessed one of history's worst genocides in the country's Liberation War in 1971.
The idea gained ground quickly among all shades of opinions as Bangladesh has been riddled by malice and lies being spread relentlessly against the history of Independence War and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by some politicians, Islamic zealots and others who committed heinous crimes during the War of Independence in1971.
The war was won on December 16 in 1971, at the cost of three million lives during the nine-month battle in what was then eastern wing of Pakistan, with the help of India and support of freedom loving people around the world.
The idea of "Holocaust Denial Law" for Bangladesh was mooted earlier by several including war crimes researcher and journalist Shahriar Kabir. But it really didn't come into public focus until Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, who lives in London came on a visit to Bangladesh just before it celebrated the 44th anniversary of Victory Day last week.
The last but not the least straw in the anti-Bangladesh campaign has been Tarqiue Rahman, Senior Vice-Chairman of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and elder son of party Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Being in exile in UK and apparently out of reach by Bangladesh law, Tarique has been engaged in a war of loathing and hatred trying to tear apart the country's history and prove national leaders as bigots. However, he insists his father, military dictator Gen Ziaur Rahman, who formed BNP to reinstate butchers from Jamaat-e-Islami and other anti-independence groups in politics had been always right and upheld the correct narratives of the history of independence.
However, majority of Bangladesh people do not subscribe to what Tarique, his mother and their cronies say. And, there lie the hope that  history will remain intact and Bangladesh will march forward, analysts say.
What is Holocaust Denial Law? Between 1933 and 1945, Germany's government, led by Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist (Nazi) party, carried out a deliberate, calculated attack on European Jewry that left over six million people killed. Those who raised questions about the number of death during the Holocaust they were accused of 'Holocaust denial.'
Many western countries also have broader laws that criminalize genocide denial. They regarded such propaganda against the historic facts as crime and punishable offence. They termed this as negativism, anti-Semitism, incitement of hatred against a particular group of people.
So, as Gaffar Chowdhury mention and others agreed, why not Bangladesh government enact a law to protect the dignity of martyrs, those who sacrificed their lives for the country's independence and of Bangabandhu and other historic leaders who made the dream of independence a reality?
Whoever publicly, by word, writing, image, gesture, acts of violence or any other manner, demeans the truths of War of Independence, shall be punished with imprisonment or a fine, political analysts and specialists said.
Meanwhile, 16 countries have enacted laws that either directly criminalize Holocaust denial or can be used to prosecute individuals who deny the Holocaust. The countries include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Israel, Slovakia and Switzerland. They considered that Holocaust denial is a form of spreading hatred, which is a punishable offence.
Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury has advised that the government formulate a law like the Holocaust Denial Law of Germany to prevent distortion of history of the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.
Such legislation was imperative in context of Bangladesh where war criminals such as Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid had several times denied deaths of millions of people for independence. Mujahid even once claimed there was no "independence war - it was a civil war" in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
"Distortion of history is a serious crime. The Holocaust-like law must be framed to prevent such distortions. Trial should be held by the law so that nobody like Tarique Zia can dare make derogatory remarks to distort history of the war," the veteran journalist said.
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique told The Daily Observer, "Though, 43 years have passed, conspirators and their collaborators are still too active. To prevent them it is necessary to prepare a law to protect facts of War of Liberation."
"The media has to play an active role to prohibit publication of reports which helped the war criminals and create controversy about the history of liberation," he added.
Shahriar Kabir, Executive President of  Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and war crimes researcher, said, "There is no other alternative to introduce 'Genocide Denial Law' to protect genocides in the War of Liberation in 1971 by Pakistani army and its local collaborators."
"Vested quarters of the BNP-Jamaat worked according to the Pakistani narratives to create controversy over the War," Kabir said.
Dr Nuzhat Choudhury daughter of a martyr Dr Abdul Alim Chaudhury questioned, "Vested quarters in the country were trying to question the historic facts to create confusion among the youth in the name of free speech."
"In the past there were many people trying to create controversy about all the national pride we have. Further, nobody could try to deny the truth, so, we have to impose this kind of law to protect our identity, Nuzhat adding "Genocide Denial Law, 1971" should be introduced in light of "Holocaust Denial Law" to protect historic facts of the country.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif told The Daily Observer, "To hit back at the defeated forces of the liberation war, we need to bring them to book through the 'Holocaust Denial Law."
Law Minister Anisul Huq said, "We need to think about the law to stop the controversy."
"Further discussion should be needed within the government (in this regard)," Anisul added.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque admitted, "Law should be prepared for the sake of preserving true history of the War of Liberation."

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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