The bihari issue in bangladesh is not likely to feature in this caretarker administrations sights. Indeed it hasn’t featured in the sights of any government.

Last year it was noticeable from the press releases and statements of the UNHCR that there was a disjuncture between the approach of the foreign ministry ( = it is an issue for Pakistan) and that of Khaleda’s office ( = we are already integrating biharis). But really nothing was being done. So much time has passed and it is incredible that we can’t resolve this issue. Feelings run high at the very mention of the name. I was talking to an outwardly sane chap only the other day and when I mentioned this as a possible documentary project, he started telling me stories about how the bihairs would fling bengali children in the air and bayonet them during the war….end of conversation.

Yet there are so many examples to draw upon. The South African TRC, problematic though it was, has useful lessons.The Cambodians have started the process. And this week, Timor and Indonesia have got down to it. I have to say the joint Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship looks even more problematic than the South African TRC. In fact it looks seriously flawed. That should not be reason to not bother with things in bangladesh. Everything is open to contestation, to bargaining and to negotiation. And so the various stakeholders really need to gear themselves up to deal with the issue. Certainly the bihari issue is located within the pro-liberation and anti-liberation cat-calling that goes on but surely, given the conjuncture, there is no better time to deal with it than now?