War Crimes, Justice and the Politics of Memory

Bina D’Costa

November 10, 2014

Campus Center Ballroom 3550C, UMass Boston

“We should recognize honestly that after decades of complexities, secret deals, and depraved politics, justice, though necessary and urgent, will be limited. Such limited justice can be morally justified only by a long-term commitment to truth. To prioritize truth, we must de-prioritize capital punishment.”
- Jalal Alamgir, “Truth, Not Punishment,” 2010
 
A violent war raging in South Asia in 1971 resulted in the creation of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation-state. Four decades on, Bangladesh has re-initiated a domestic war crimes trial process that contains its own power dynamics, exclusions and silences. Based on Jalal Alamgir's observations, this presentation weaves through divergent layers of the complex politicization of memory by various actors to recapture certain aspects of the normative contestation that underpins assertions of justice and questions of accountability and transparency as Bangladesh reckons with its past. It provides a brief background of the current impasse, the fractured process and the hierarchical nature of various international discursive interventions de-legitimizing the trials and considers popular protests in Shahbagh, Dhaka through which collective remembrance becomes a distinct and disputed social and political practice.
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This event is being cosponsored by the Departments of Political Science; Asian Studies; Women's and Gender Studies; The Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights; Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance; The Joiner Institute; the University Honors College.

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