Center for the Study of Genocide and Justice (CSGJ), Liberation War Museum has organised its annual flagship programme titled as the Winter Residential School for the sixth time on “Dealing with Past and Confronting Genocide through Peace Education and Justice” from 17-24 January 2020 in Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Youth Development, Savar. A total of 37 students and young professionals from different universities of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the programme. Resource persons, international instructors and resident mentors included both academics and practicing experts on genocide and justice studies from Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, Indonesia, and the USA. Apart from attending formal lecture sessions, the participants took part in different small group exercises on fictitious problems and tried to solve them using both legal and sociological prisms of identifying and confronting genocide. To demystify the lessons of conflict and violence, the participants also did an exercise of creating artefacts to memorialise the past atrocity crimes.
As part of the schooling, the participants visited the Kumidini Welfare Trust Complex in Mirzapur, Tangail to interview and interact with the witnesses of 1971 genocide, specially with the local freedom fighters and the family members of victims including those of martyr Randa Prashad Shaha who was abducted by the local collaborators on May 7, 1971. From the day-long field visit, the participants came up with the findings that the crime of genocide took place in Mirzapur which the existing international criminal justice apparatus must address. They also found that the present generation now needs to understand and realise the importance of truth seeking, peace education and memorialisation for building a cohesive society with peace, harmony and non-communalism.
The participants also got themselves engaged in a Non-judicial Hearing on an imaginary genocide case and they played the roles of judges, applicants’ counsels, respondants’ counsels, amici curiae, victims’ group, UN Independent Fact--finding Mission, and media and civil-society. Through this exercise, they were able to understand the functions of multi-layer adjudication mechanisms prevalent in international justice forum like in the ICJ.
Mr. Justice Obaidul Hasan, former presiding judge of International Crimes Tribunal-Bangladesh, was the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the winter school and handed over certificates and awards to the participants. Mumtahena Ferdousy from Khulna University was presented with the Academic Excellence Award. Ahnaf Tahmid Arnab from Jahangirnagar University won the overall performance award while Syed Tanvir Azam Taif from the University of Chittagong won the best performer award in non-judicial hearing.