The curious case of Turkey and Pakistan

Bodies of Bangalee victims of Pakistan’s brutality are seen in this undated photo of 1971. Not even an infant could escape this viciousness. Photo: Raghu Rai / Magnum Photos

1971 is the year that saw bloody birth of Bangladesh. The 9 month war killed one of the largest numbers of people in recent or modern human history. Talking from numeric point of view Armenian massacre is another incident that world do not know enough as much it deserved to be known. The similarity of those two specific massacres is on its perpetrators; Pakistan and Turkey. Turkey has also played the supplemental role of 1971 Bangladeshi slaughter. They have provided ammunition, relief to Pakistani army who were killing literally everything alive in Bangladesh. Turkey tried to help Pakistan every way possible to keep its occupation of Bangladesh, through bureaucratic way, putting pressure on Soviet Union and Poland, politically by helping Arab world’s mandate on Pakistan or by providing direct weapons to kill the Bengali’s. The relationship of Jamaat-E Islam (member of Muslim brotherhood)1, Pakistan and Turkey goes fairly deep and quite a while back. Pakistan officially always denied there were ever any massacre occurred by their army and Jaamat-E-Islami leader’s same way Turkey denied Armenian genocide; as if it never happened. Pakistan was born out of India for the country of Muslim population of united India with the Muslim League secular leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah as founder of the country. Jinnah always wanted to emulate what Kamal Ataturk has been for Turkey. It is very worthy to mention Kamal Ataturk is a revolutionary man for Turkey and world, as he is the first leader of Muslim country who adopted and implemented secular values in society and the way a state will be ruled. Jinnah himself was formerly known as secular, who married to a Zoroastrian lady; ironically found himself in the leader role of birth of a country found on communal view. Modern days, Pakistan and Turkey were thought to be modern Muslim countries with similar principles.  But secularism on such countries started to changed into very different meaning than the broad secular views. Turkey started to crash down Kurd population, partnered Khomeni government to oppress Kurds in Iran. They are still against Kurds as Russia provided evidence that Turkey is collaborating with ISIS fighters to gun Kurd population down in Syria and Iraq, buying oil from ISIS to keep their economy moving which lead few explosions in Turkey. Turkey is still one of the rarest countries which have secularism on constitution in name but right of freedom was taken away from reporters and journalists to normal people. Erdogan, the president requested to arrest reporters in Denmark, France and Netherlands where anybody write against him or his government. Turkey assembly’s speaker asked if they can go back to Islamic law which public were vocal against; but in terms of ruling it is authoritarian to its public.  Like Ahmediya’s , Shia’s and Ismaili group oppressed in Pakistan Shia’s and Kurds faced similar fate in Turkey. Turkey and Pakistan are united once again today, not only in grand umbrella of Saudi’s Wahabism but also criticizing Bangladesh war crime trial. The Jaamat-E-Islami leader and planner of intellectual murder in Bangladesh in 1971 Nizami was convicted and given capital punishment in war crime trial. Pakistani parliament mourns it by huge outcry, while Turkey did not want to disappoint their old Pakistani and Jaamat-E-Islam friends. They went one step up; cancelling their ambassador from Bangladesh. Similar to Armenian genocide, Bangladeshi genocide is also hidden in most cases in world politics, as western media always hailed the Jaamat-E-Islami leaders who committed war crime as “opposition leaders”. If being “opposition leader” could create controversy to get the legal jurisdiction, the Nazi leaders who committed similar atrocities probably would converted in to “opposition leaders” and could get away with heinous crime they have done in entire Second World War time.

After liberation war Bangladesh government had took a step to punish war criminals who were involved with rape, killing, proselytize to Islam during liberation war 1971. During liberation war nearly three million people were killed and more than two hundred thousand women were raped by Pakistan army and their local collaborators known as, “Razakars”, “Al-Badres” and “Al-Shams”.  Most of the Islamic parties were involved with this brutal genocide to save Pakistan by the name of Islam. In 1973 the newly independent government of Bangladesh passed a law, the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act (ICT Act 1973), to authorize the investigation and prosecution of the persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in 1971. The act was a complete in itself. After killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (father of nation) in 1975, all collaborators came out from jail as a political decision and interest.

In early 90’s (1990) Jahanara Imam led an unprecedented movement to bring the perpetrators of 1971 war crimes to justice. She led the formations of Gono Adalat [Mass public’s Court] on March 26, 1992 where former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam, the mastermind of the atrocities during the war, was tried. Jahanara Imam died in 1994 with the burden of a sedition suit filed against her during a previous BNP-led government. The case was withdrawn around two years later when Justice Habibur Rahman led caretaker government was in office.

After Jahanara Imam, People did not give up their demand to bring perpetrators to justice. After 2001 election BNP-Jamat formed their government with some infamous perpetrators. Past grievances was rising in Public mind, during the 2008 general election, the Awami League (AL) pledged to establish the tribunals in response to long-standing calls for trying war criminals.

The International Crimes Tribunal (Bangladesh) (ICT of Bangladesh) is a domestic war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh set up in 2009 to investigate and prosecute suspects for the genocide committed in 1971 by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators. The first indictments were issued in 2010. However, the main perpetrators of the war crimes, the Pakistan soldiers, remained out of the reach of the courts.

Jaamat-E-Islam and its allies proclaim propaganda; Bangladesh government hang opposition Islamic leader as hostility. And they have some allies and organizations who want to say-only Islamic leader of Bangladesh are hanged to death. According to Bangladesh law death penalty is the supreme penalty allowed for supreme offenders. In Every year 20-30 people on average are gets death penalty according to law for their crimes. Unfortunately international human organizations and others have no voice on these cases.

After every execution of war criminal Pakistan, Turkey and their allies raise their voice against war crime tribunal. Jamat has servitude to Pakistan Jamat and Islamic groups for Abul A’la Maududi s (who was condemned for thousands killing of Ahmadia) ideology and international Islamic political interest. Jamat is known ally of Sunni Islamist organization Islamic Brotherhood which was founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic political parties who were involved with Jamat with ideologically and power interest, they must be against war tribunal. They are spending huge money to make propaganda and recruited so many people saving these criminals.  The ruling party of Turkey is also member of Muslim brotherhood fraternity, which perfectly explains their empathy to mass murderer Matiur Rahman Nizami.

After Razakar (co-killers of Pakistani Army of 1971) Motiur Rahman Nizami execution Turkey blast out again and withdraws Bangladesh ambassador from Bangladesh. It’s a political step and pressure to stop truibunal. But don’t forget Trukey has responsibility of Armenian Genocide (Armenian Holocaust) in 1915. But Trukey always deny about Armenian Genocide. Last year, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had said Turkey will ignore any decision by the European parliament qualifying the 1915 killings of Armenians in the first world war as genocide, saying such recognition would go “in one ear and out from the other”2.

Skulls lie in the ruined Armenian village of Sheyxalan in 1915 Photo: Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute

In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Though reports vary, most sources agree that there were about 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Today, most historians call this event genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people. However, the Turkish government does not acknowledge the enormity or scope of these events. Despite pressure from Armenians and social justice advocates throughout the world, it is still illegal in Turkey to talk about what happened to Armenians during this era. It is worth to mention Turkey still holds more than half of Cyprus, but when anybody talks about imperialism Turkey gets free pass on that category. It is because owning more than half of island and getting benefit out of it probably not imperial enough for newspaper’s to address about.3

In late 1970 Turkish right-wing party did brutal Inflicted on opposition party.  Present ruling right wings party has relation with Islamic terrorist group ISIS. Last December Russia presented a proof about Turkey involved in Islamic State oil trade.4 RT website has every possible proof on that matter.  Every Islamic group has an internal relation with each other to build an Islamic imperialism. Turkey uses ISIS to destroy Kurdi movement in their own interest.

As a step, getting membership of EU, Turkey nullify death punishment 12 years (may be more) ago. At present Turkey has a good chance to show their humanity for EU and also saving their ally Jamat. In Bangla there have a proverb-kill two birds with one stone. Turkey is doing like that. When Saudi Arab executed 47 individuals, Tayyip Erdogan said; the executions are an international legal matter. Executions in Saudi Arabia are a matter of domestic law.5 But when Bangladesh punished know war criminals, he says; halt executions, it’s a historical mistake, justice human rights and the law have been trampled! Strangely he turned 180 degree opposite in Bangladesh’s case.

During liberation war, Collaborators killed Bangladeshi’s with Pakistan Army while Turkey provided weapon and money o execute. After 45 years of liberation war they have been hanged for their brutal crime in 1971. They killed millions people by name of protecting Islam, which are being done frequently by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In Bangladesh no one is being hanged without juridical procedure. Bangladesh ‘war crimes mastermind’ Jamat Islam prime leader Ghulam Azam was found guilty on all five charges and sentenced to 90 years in prison. The judges unanimously agreed that Azam deserved capital punishment but was given a lenient punishment because of his age and health condition. So war tribunal is doing its job with sympathy according to Bangladesh law. War tribunal is for Justice, not for vengeance.  Some crime against humanity should never go unpunished; Bangladesh’s mass murderer should never get a free pass after bringing havoc. Vengeance is basically eye for eye or medieval rule, while the war crime trial is way different than that. The proofs are verified, justified by legal battles. Nizami and Jaamat-E-Islam leaders are getting the punishment for their crime of 45 years ago; they were untouchables for long time. Such criminals get what they deserve, wish their collaborators such as Pakistan army and politicians and Turkish officials get their part.



  1. Jamaat e-Islami-
  2. Turkey cannot accept Armenian genocide label, says Erdoğan-
  3. Armenian Genocide – Facts & Summary –
  4. Russia says it has proof Turkey involved in Islamic State oil trade-
  5. Saudi executions are ‘domestic’ issue says Erdogan after uproar in Middle
  6. International Crimes Tribunal (Bangladesh)

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