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Mutineers face trial after Dhaka massacre


Bangladesh’s new civilian government is to charge 1,000 paramilitary border guards with murder and arson as the administration tries to pacify a military furious at the slaughter of up to 130 senior officers in last week’s Bangladesh Rifles’ mutiny.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the prime minister, has vowed to establish special tribunals to try the mutineers after the weekend discovery of mass graves containing the bodies of at least 60 senior officers and their relatives.

For Sheikh Hasina – who took power two months ago after parliamentary elections ended two years of military rule – the crisis will test already fraught relations with the army, which historically has better ties with the Bangladesh Nationalist party, led by Khaleda Zia.

The authorities were on Sunday scouring drains, ponds, and areas surrounding the Rifles headquarters in search of the bodies of those missing, as a shocked nation was presented with more details of the atrocity.

The senior army officers that command the Rifles, a paramilitary border protection force, had last week poured into their Dhaka headquarters for the annual durbar – a chance for troops to raise grievances with their commanders.

The insurrection by the guards – who are not part of the regular army but are commanded by army officers – was quelled on Thursday, after Sheikh Hasina initially offered an amnesty then later warned she would use force to crush the mutiny.

The extent of the killing has fuelled frenzied speculation that the uprising was far more than just a spontaneous outpouring of long-simmering anger at the Rifles’ low pay, poor working conditions, and high-handed treatment by their officers, as the mutineers had claimed.

Syed Ashraful Islam, a spokesman for Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, said initial investigations indicated the attack was planned and that the mutineers had outside assistance, though he did not elaborate.

General Moeen U. Ahmed, the army chief who has publicly affirmed the military’s loyalty both to the administration and the prime minister, on Sunday spoke to senior officers at the Dhaka cantonment.

But it remains to be seen whether the government’s pledge to prosecute those responsible will be sufficient to placate the military, seething with anger and clamouring for revenge.

“The government is on a tightrope here,” the foreign analyst said. “It has to deal with the perpetrators in a transparent manner that adheres to the rule of law, but it has also got to provide justice that the military can stomach.

“If they don’t feel that the government response is in line with their expectations, you are going to see relations between the military and the new government get even more acrimonious than it is.”

In recent decades, Bangladesh has been paralysed by political battles between the followers of Sheikh Hasina, who was abroad at the time of her family’s massacre, and Mrs Zia, whose husband was assassinated in an abortive 1981 military coup.

mutineer (軍隊などの)暴動者

massacre 大虐殺

paramilitary 軍補助的な

arson 放火

pacify 〈反乱を〉鎮圧する

tribunal 法廷 《★【解説】 正規の司法体系外で,司法的機能を行使する機関に用いられることが多い》

fraught 〔危険などを〕はらんで

atrocity 暴虐,非道,残虐

grievance 不平(の原因), 不満(の種)

insurrection 暴動,反乱

amnesty 恩赦,大赦

frenzy 逆上、乱心

uprising 反乱

elaborate 〈ものを〉念入りに作る,推敲(すいこう)する

cantonment 軍宿営地

placate なだめる

seethe 煮えくり返る

stomach 我慢する

acrimonius とげとげしい

abortive 不成功の,失敗した

coup 一撃

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