Thursday, 7 July, 2022

Long shadow of the August 1975 coup

"The CIA station chief in Dhaka, Philip Cherry, was actively involved in the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," US author and journalist Lawrence Lifschultz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review and later in his book "Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution."


Lifschultz who investigated the matter for many years and interviewed many sources, both Bangladeshi and American, came to the conclusion that the American hatred for Bangladesh started way back in 1971 when the Bangladesh Liberation War almost upset Kissinger's grand design of a "Sino-American Détente” where Pakistan was the "honest broker".


Lifschultz writes that during the War the Americans tried to divide the Liberation movement by cultivating some Awami League leaders like Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed. But when that plot failed and Bangladesh became independent, soon after, America's "Super Diplomat" National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger considered it to be a personal defeat for him and a strategic loss for the US.


Kissinger's desire to regain lost ground continued even after Liberation. Once again, through the very people who had been part of the US-led plot in 1971 the Americans reorganized their forces here and in August 15, 1975 engineered the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and much of his extended family.


According to Lifschultz the long list of political leaders on Kissinger's hit-list included Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh, Salvador Allende of Chile and Taiyoo of Vietnam.


Lifschultz writes, "Within hours, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, symbol for many of an ideal of liberation, was dead in a military coup d’état that had run amok in a frenzy of killing. Mujib and almost his entire family were slaughtered including his wife and sons, the youngest only twelve. On that deadly night groups of soldiers broke into squads and traveled around the city killing relatives of Mujib's family."


"Mujib's two daughters were abroad and they survived with Sheikh Hasina years later becoming Prime Minister. Yet, she too was nearly assassinated in broad daylight, a few years ago, by a hit squad that still "eludes" capture, demonstrating yet again Faulkner's insight "the past is not even past. It is very much present."


Lifschultz is of the opinion: "The political configuration that exists today is a direct descendant of August 15, 1975. Khaleda Zia is the wife of the late General Ziaur Rahman, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff in 1975, who played a crucial behind (the) scenes role in the plotting that preceded the coup and in the events which followed."