Bangladesh: Trials of Strength

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Farhana Haider investigates the prosecution of alleged war criminals and asks if the trials are being used to target the opposition.

There were numerous reports of atrocities during the brutal war of 1971 between Pakistan on one side and the new state which was to become Bangladesh, which had support from India. The Pakistani Army and Islamic sympathisers in Bangladesh were accused of rape and of mass killings which some have described as genocide. In 2010 the governing Awami League set up war crimes trials which have started to hand down convictions this year, attracting strong public support. However, many international observers have criticised the conduct of the trials as less than free and fair. And supporters of the largest Bangladesh's largest Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami have reacted furiously to the conviction of several of their leaders, saying the process is politically motivated.

Farhana Haider asks whether the legal process will really enable Bangladesh to come to terms with its bloody beginnings.

Producer: John Murphy.

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 23 Dec 2013 20:30

Almost every family in East Pakistan was affected by the war in 1971

Almost every family in East Pakistan was affected by the war in 1971

The strains between East and West Pakistan led to people dying during their liberation struggle - from fighting, executions and disease. This black and white photo is the only photo left of Farhana’s grandfather a prominent businessman and her grandmother on the right. He was murdered in the Bangladesh war, everything else was destroyed in 1971.

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