Witchhunt in Bangladesh
0 comments | by K Iqbal on May 25 , 2016
Witchhunt in Bangladesh K Iqbal May be time has come for Pakistan to re-open the trial of ‘Agartala Conspiracy’ case and take the matters to their logical conclusion by exposing the perpetrators. Pakistan should also make a simultaneous beginning by raising the issue of war crimes trials by Bangladesh at the OIC, International Court of Justice and UN Human Rights Council. Sentiment at most of these forums is overwhelmingly supportive of Pakistan’s point of view. Pakistan summoned the BD envoy and lodged a protest. The National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution condemning Nizami’s execution. However, so far response from Pakistan has been lackluster, short of expectations of people of Pakistan. Public sentiment is running high on the issue and the Government should respond to the situation in accordance with the aspirations of people. International organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had deemed the decision (to hang JI leaders) unacceptable. Since the beginning of sham war crime trials in Bangladesh, several international organisations, human rights groups and international legal figures have raised objections to the court composition, proceedings, fairness, transparency, and harassment of defence lawyers and witnesses. Only those defence witnesses are permitted to appear in the court who are approved (read compromised through coercion) by government agencies. International community has objected to the steps taken by government of Bangladesh to impose restrictions on the independence of these trial courts. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said: “Nizami’s trial was neither free nor fair, as the tribunal cut corners on fair-trial standards. ”UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, human rights organisations, and US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign notables’ had asked Sheikh Hasina to stop executions. Motee-u-Rahman Nazami is the fifth senior official from opposition parties to have been executed since 2013 for alleged war crimes during the 1971 war. After the confirmation of death sentence by the Supreme Court, Nizami’s lawyer had said that he [Nizami] would not seek any pardon as it would require him to admit crimes he was convicted of. Earlier four victims also did not seek Presidential clemency for the same reason. All of them bravely faced the trials and exposed the shortfalls of proceedings. The 1974 Tripartite Agreement is the cornerstone of relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. As part of the agreement, the government of Bangladesh had “decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency. ”To prolong her political career in the face of plummeting popularity, Hasina Wajid decided to invoke the politics of hatred and vengeance by instituting International War Crimes Tribunal in 2010, notwithstanding that it had been agreed between her father Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman and Prime Minster Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in 1974, that nobody would be tried for the acts that took place during civil war. In the wake of Nizami’s hanging, Pakistan has pledged to raise the issue of executions of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leaders in Bangladesh at appropriate United Nations forums, including its Human Rights Council (UNHRC), besides vowing to take the matter up at diplomatic level with other countries. Condemning the Bangladesh executions, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asked Bangladesh to reconsider its policy “not just in the interest of other Muslim countries, but also its own”. Government might as well walk the talk. The loudest protest came from Turkey: “I condemn the mentality that sentences to death a mujahid, who is over the age of 70 and who we believe has no earthly sin. I think that such proliferation of hatred there, and the ordering of such death sentences despite our repeated initiatives, is neither fair governance nor a democratic mentality,” said President Erdogan on May 15. Erdogan also condemned Europe for not speaking out against the execution. “Weren’t you against executions?” Erdogan said.“There was no noise (from the EU) because the person who was executed was a Muslim. ” “If you are against political executions, why did you remain silent to the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami who was martyred a couple of days ago…Have you heard anything from Europe? … No. Isn’t it called double standards?” Erdogan added. “Those who keep silent now in the face of what happens in Bangladesh cannot abdicate their responsibility either,” he added. Though there has been worldwide reaction to this gross injustice to JI leaders in Bangladesh, initiative of President Erdogan has earned him more respect not only among Muslim world but also the entire just-minded humanity. Last year, Erdogan had condemned a death sentence handed to Egypt’s deposed President Muhammad Morsi and had condemned the West for turning a blind eye to the “coup” by Egyptian army chief, who is now president. After Bangladesh gained independence, the JI was banned and most of its leaders went into exile. It was only after the 1975 military coup, which brought Major General Ziaur Rahman to power, that the ban was lifted and many JI leaders returned. Some of these leaders, including Nizami, became ministers in the two BNP-led regimes (1991-96 and 2001-2006). Tribunal has executed JI leaders mainly for their alliance with BNP, but under the cover of so called war crimes. Their only crime was their loyalty towards Pakistan and the two-nation theory. They were executed for their love for Pakistan. Nizami’s only sin was upholding the constitution and laws of Pakistan—before the birth of Bangladesh. Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq led hundreds of workers of his party at a funeral-in-absentia arranged by his party for Nizami in Lahore. He deplored that the Pakistan government had not made any serious effort to stop Nizami’s hanging. Clashes erupted in Bangladesh after Nizami’s execution. Earlier, executions of Jamaat leaders in 2013 had triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades; around 500 people were killed, mainly in clashes between the JI protestors and police. Tens of thousands of Jamaat supporters have since been arrested or detained without charge. As Hasina failed to perform well during earlier terms of governance, she tried to win 2014 elections on the basis of hate-vote and vindictive politics. However, there is strong polarisation in Bangladesh, and anti-Indian sentiments have surged due to various reasons. With the turmoil and anarchy, India stands to gain. The fact is now universally admitted by the writers and intellectuals throughout the world that Pakistan was dismembered through an international intrigue, India having played an active role by creating Mukti Bahini that stirred chaos and anarchy. And when civil war erupted, India invaded former East Pakistan. Over the years, people of Pakistan and Bangladesh had forgotten bitterness of the past and they wish to move forward to play their role for peace and prosperity in the region. Pakistan and its people have been congratulating Bangladesh and its people on its independence day and other national events. For her ulterior political motives, Hasina is reverse paddling the process by re-scratching the healed wounds. When civil war erupted and hostile India intervened in former East Pakistan, it was indeed the responsibility of the then Pakistani government to act and control the indiscriminate massacre by Mukti Bahini—India trained rebel gangsters. During these difficult times Jamaat-i- Islami, Muslim League and other patriot political entities extended helping hand to the legitimate government of Pakistan. Independent writers like Dr Sarmila Bose, a Hindu by faith, an Indian by original nationality and an ethnic Bengali researcher in her book ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War’, and authors: Richard Sisson and Leo Rose in their book ‘War of secession: Pakistan, India and creation of Bangladesh’ have duly exposed the claims of war atrocities as trumpeted by Hasina Wajid. These authors maintain that “India had planned interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Same was shamelessly acknowledged by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India in 2015.