Bangladesh executes JI chief
HEAD of the banned Jamaate-Islam Motiur Rahman Nizami was executed early on Wednesday for so-called war crimes committed during the 1971 war of ‘independence’, after the Supreme Court rejected his final plea against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal. 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.” He is the fifth senior official from opposition parties to have been executed since 2013 for alleged war crimes during the 1971 war. Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat-iIslami leaders, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the tribunal. Clashes erupted after the hanging of Motiur Rahman, and police used rubber bullets, and arrested scores of JI workers. Previous similar judgments and executions had triggered violence that killed around 200 people, mainly Jamaat activists and police.
A special tribunal in Bangladesh had sentenced Motiur Rahman Nizami, the head of the country’s Jamaat-i-Islami party, who was tried on 16 charges including genocide, murder, torture, rape and destruction of property. Sheikh Hasina continues with the policy of hatred and revenge against her opponents. Even before elections in 2013, more than 500 people were killed in political violence. Former ruler military dictator Hussein Muhammad Ershad, who leads the country’s third largest party Jatiyo Party, a key ally of the Awami League grand alliance, had also boycotted the election. He was “detained” as part of the government’s efforts to force him to participate in the January 5 polls, but he remained firm in his decision of election boycott. Jama’at-i-Islami was already out of the field, as it was banned and not allowed to participate in the elections on the grounds that its religious character breaches Bangladesh’s secular constitution.
There is a perception that execution of Molla Abdul Quader of Jama’at-i-Islami was done to exploit the anti-Pakistan feeling among certain segments of the country. If she continues to push JI against the wall, its leaders and activists may go underground and create problems for the regime. Bangladesh has been propagating that Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 million people to take shelter in refugee camps across the border in neighboring India during the nine-month war. Independent observers, Hamood-urRehman Commission and many researchers have described these figures as grossly exaggerated. One could not understand as to why Hasina Wajed decided to invoke the politics of hatred and vengeance when it had been agreed between her father Sh. Mujib-ur-Rehman and Z A Bhutto that nobody would be tried for the acts that took place during civil war, or what Awami Leaguers call war of liberation.
UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon, human rights organisations, and US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign notables’ had asked Sheikh Hasina to stop executions of JI leaders. As she had failed to perform well during its term of governance, she had tried to win elections on the basis of hate-vote and vindictive politics. However, there is strong polarisation in Bangladesh, and antiIndian sentiments have surged due to various reasons. With the turmoil and anarchy, India stands to gain, as Sheikh Hasina would largely depend on India’s support to remain in power. The fact is now admitted by the writers and intellectuals throughout the world that Pakistan was dismembered through an international intrigue, India having played an egregious role by creating Mukti Bahini force that stirred chaos and anarchy. And when civil war erupted, India invaded former East Pakistan.
Over the years, people of Pakistan and Bangladesh have forgotten bitterness of the past and wish to move forward to play their role for peace and prosperity in the region. Pakistan and its people have been congratulating Bangladesh on its independence day, and wished it all the very best. But Sheikh Hasina always tried to roil the relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh some time by exaggerating the figures of those killed in civil war and at other by bestowing awards on those people who supported Awami League six points and the separatist movement. She created so-called International Crimes Tribunal, which is being criticised for negating international obligations and international agreements including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. She does not realize that during the civil war, law enforcing agencies throughout the world and the governments take action against those challenging the writ of the state.
When civil war erupted and hostile India had intervened in former East Pakistan, it was indeed the responsibility of the then Pakistani government to act. According to the Bangladesh government, about three million people were killed and thousands of women were raped during the 1971 war. But majority of writers and historians reject the claims of Awami League and India that three million Bengalis were killed in 1971. Sarmila Bose, a noted British academic and senior research associate at the Centre for International Studies at Oxford University, wrote a book titled ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War’ published in 2011. She attempted to quantify the deaths in the Civil War by interviewing the participants on both sides. She had met retired Pakistani officers in the west, survivors of relatives who were killed as well as members of the non-Bengali and non-Muslim minorities.
She had laid bare the nature and scale of atrocities committed by the ‘nationalists’, which had been edited out of the dominant narrative. The author reckoned the deaths were 100000 including casualties of nonBengalis killed by Mukti Bahini. Authors, Richard Sisson and Leo Rose in their book published in 1990 titled ‘War of secession: Pakistan, India and creation of Bangladesh’ gave an account of the events that took place from 1970 to 1971 in former East Pakistan. The authors wrote that “India had planned interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan, and invaded the then East Pakistan when three million Bengalis mostly Hindus fled to West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.” Having that said, Mukti Bahini and Indian agents had let loose the reign of terror, and killed many innocent people. Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the helm, Sheikh Hasina has been instrumental in fueling hate campaign against Pakistan. — The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.