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Abu Taher's Last Testament: Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution

Lawrence Lifschultz
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 12, No. 33/34, Special Number (Aug., 1977), pp. 1303-1305+1307+1309-1311+1313+1315+1317-1319+1321+1323-1325+1327+1329+1331-1333+1335+1337+1339-1341+1343+1345+1347-1349+1351-1354
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4365850
Page Count: 35
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Abu Taher's Last Testament: Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution
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Abstract

The story of Abu Taher's life cannot be summed up easily or simply, nor can the sequence of events which brought it to an abrupt heroic close. The time involved spans more than half a decade. It has been a complex period of extraordinary violence and brutality. In the past two years alone Bangladesh has been ruled by a succession of four regimes, each succeeding the other by force of arms. Out of the struggle for independence in 1971 nearly a million persons died in war or from starvation. In 1974 a hundred thousand peasants succumbed to a famine which was largely man-made. In 1975 Bangladesh entered a new phase of political upheavals. Two military putsches involving assassinations and grim jail-house murders were followed by a revolutionary army mutiny. It was a soldiers' uprising that had not been seen in the subcontinent since 1857, when the colonial army of India rebelled against the British. It was this insurrection on November 7, 1975, which deeply shook the polity of Bangladesh and more than any other event brought historic prominence to Abu Taher. The purpose of this article is to describe the history of the events which gave birth to the November 7 Uprising. But more than that the object is to reveal the details of Abu Taher's secret trial and subsequent execution. The men, whom Abu Taher calls upon to realise their moral responsibility or face the condemnation of history, would today face arrest in Bangladesh were they to publicly speak what they know. No doubt one day they will, but until then the report of the present writer, and the publication of Taher's own testimony, must suffice as an opening statement on the case. The years ahead will certainly provide many more.

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