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War crimes Tribunal is nothing more than Politics at play. We need to look at the distance past to understand the present ( Concluding Part Three)


Written By: Mozafor
07/10/2013 23:06 07/10/2013 12:07
BD War crime trial

Sheikh Hasina and her current government is a democratically elected fascist party in power. Like her father, not only she has a problem accepting other party or other opinion, but she wants to finish them altogether. For this reason, Delwar Hussain Sayeedi and many top leaders of Bangladesh Jamati Islam have been targeted to face war crimes. The truth is, Sheikh Hasina has brought up the issue of war crimes to discredit Jamat and Jamat leaders and to suppress Islamic politics.

The difference between a dictator and a fascist is that, behind fascism there can be public support. Fascist can win election and they can be made lawful by election. Ideological thinking and concept of Fascism can become popular. Fascism spreads from one popular or emotional issue such as the spirit of independence, or war crimes, but fascism does not only stop at disrespecting or valuing other people opinion but it strives actively to finish them.

War crimes Tribunal is an instrument used by Sheikh Hasina to finish her opponent. It goes without saying that the architect of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman thought it fit to wipe the slate clean of all conflicts, adversities and contradictions that cropped up during the liberation war by declaring the general amnesty. By virtue of the general amnesty, those accused or convicted for minor crimes under the Act were all set free.

We can firmly state, no Jamaat leaders against whom charges have been framed, accusing them of serious war crimes, were not even indicted under the Collaborators Act of 1972. Nor was any of Jamat leaders included in the list of 195 war criminals identified by the-then Bangladesh Government through proper enquiry. How could they be accused of war crimes when they did not take part in the war at all?

According to the amended Representation of the People Order, a war criminal is debarred from candidature in general elections. Had Jamat leaders been implicated in war crimes, they would not have been allowed to take part in the last general elections in 2008. They obtained huge voter endorsement. This could not have happened if they were involved in any serious offence like war crime.

The people of Bangladesh are not against trial of the persons who are responsible for violation of international criminal laws during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. But such prosecution must be based upon international standards of fair trial, both in the identification of accused and the conduct of the investigation and trial.

In spite of no historical record implicating Jamat leaders to war crimes, surprisingly, the overwhelming majority that are facing war crime charges are from the senior leadership of Bangladeshi Jamati Islam. That itself puts the real motive of the Tribunal in to question. It defies any logic based on the above reason.

With the Jamat top leaders in Jail, the Tribunal Judges were handpicked ensuring only those having loyalty to Awamileague were selected. Investigators, prosecutors and the Government colluded to buy witnesses by means of coercion and payment of money. It was reported by a source that Piroj Pur Awami MP had paid 5 laks Taka to buy a witness against Maulana Delwar Hussain Sayeedi. Where they couldn’t buy with money, they would threaten the prospective witness with abduction or killings. In this way, they amassed their evidence against Jamat leaders.

In the process of all this, the government continued to arrest, file false cases against other Jamat leaders and activists so that the party wouldn’t be able to function its normal political role. The government even closed all their district and regional offices. But in spite of more than 40000 Jamats activists having been put to jail, the party continued to function as a force to be reckon with. This created a dilemma for Sheikh Hasina, as she wasn’t sure how she would control public opinion if a death verdict was announced So before Abdul Kader Mollah’s verdict, Sheikh Hasina came up with another plan to foil any mass uprising after the verdict. Her Indian Masters with the help of the leftist designed Egyptian Tahrir like Shabag protest. The idea was to give a life sentence and then Shabag would come in to play in dismay and demand death sentence for all those accused.

What followed was a change in law that gave the government the right to appeal against Abdul Kader Mollah’s life sentence for a death verdict. This kind of law is unprecedented in the history of Bangladeshi judiciary. But Bangladeshi judiciary had already been made in to a ‘yes sir’ judiciary by giving political appointment to the judges. Every decision that related to ICT or political party came at the dictate of the government, most specifically from the Prime Minister. Abdul Kaders Mollah’s death verdict, as well as Delwar Hussain Sayeedi’s, and most recently Salauddin Kader Chowdhury’s, sentence came from the law ministry and have been marred with controversy, scandal and serious allegations.

At least four major scandals had happened in relation to ICT. If this had happened in any other country, the tribunal would have been dissolved pending impartial investigations. But Awamileague is a party whose leadership had already made the decisions to commit murder.

What is also clear from number of recent disclosures by the international community and the media is the overwhelming evidence that reveals serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and the collusion of the Government with members of the judiciary and prosecution to bring about desired result by convicting and executing leading members of the opposition.

The government of Bangladesh is not listening to any international human rights organization concern about the partiality of the Tribunal and maintaining an international standard, although media reports have documented witnesses for the defence abducted from the court yard of the Tribunal at the dictates of the government.

Recently, a retrospective judgment has been given to one of the leaders of the opposition Mr.Abdul Kader Mollah by the appellate Division. He has been sentenced to death without a right to review. Indeed, serious abuses of process have been allowed to pass unchecked. By way of example, judges were removed and replaced by the Government in the midst of a trial. Further, the integrity and independence of the judges have been seriously undermined by a report published by the international media in December last year alleging serious judicial misconduct bordering on a criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The economists had published ‘Skype recordings’ which showed collusion between judges, prosecution and the government to convict the accused.

International human rights organizations, United Nations, foreign dignitaries, government of other countries and member of British House of lords have voiced their concern demanding the need to stop the Trial pending investigations, but so far it has fallen on deaf ears. It is a travesty of justice; it is all about politics at play, and a paranoid Sheikh Hasina’s revenge on the members of the opposition party, especially Bangladeshi Jamati Islam.

Lord Carlile QC, the Vice-Chair of UK Parliament's All Party Parliamentary Group on Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, accused the Bangladesh government of running a 'profoundly compromised legal process'. His criticism comes as SQ Chowdhury, a leading figure in the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) was found guilty in a trial that has been criticised by human rights organisations and international legal experts.

Lord Carlile also stated he was concerned by new allegations that SQ Chowdhury's judgment was prepared by the Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs as far back as May 2013. This was before some of the witnesses in the case were even heard by the tribunal.

Lord Carlile's criticism also follows a strongly worded letter last week to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. In that letter he noted that International legal and human rights campaigners have 'universally condemned' the Tribunal for its 'politically motivated sentencing that is fuelling unrest on the streets.' He also told the High Commissioner that 'International criminal justice must be enforced in a way that is not only complementary to national criminal jurisdictions, but also respectful of international human rights standards and international standards of procedure, fairness and transparency.'

In a recent letter to Baronese Warsi, Lord Avery of British House of Lords wrote that he noted the death sentence passed on Abdul Qader Molla by Bangladesh Supreme Court on September 16, which had been originally a sentence to life imprisonment. Therefore, he thought that under the common law a person who had already been tried and sentenced, as he had been, cannot be tried again for the same offence, by the principle of autrefois convict.

Abdul Quader Mollah was convicted following a highly controversial trial in which the Presiding Judge was removed following the resignation of the disgraced Chairman as a consequence of the ‘Skypegate’ scandal. The defence were prevented from calling witnesses and the case was promptly closed by the Tribunal and rushed to judgment. Both the Tribunal and the Supreme Court have failed to apply the law as it stood in 1971 and took judicial notice of contentious facts that were not in evidence. The defence were also prevented on numerous occasions from having privileged communications with the accused. The countless defects in the trial process and the numerous errors in law were so severe that they invalidate the entire judgment and any conviction amount to a miscarriage of justice. It is deeply regrettable that the Supreme Court has failed to remedy these defects on appeal and has applied a law that is unconstitutional and in breach of international law.

The law as it stood at the time of conviction did not permit any prosecution appeal for a higher sentence. Yet the law was subsequently amended for the sole purpose of allowing retrospectively a prosecution appeal seeking the death penalty in Abdul Kader Mollah’s case. The amendment was passed following the PM’s remarkable statement in parliament, as a result of mass demonstrations on the streets of Dhaka that the tribunal judges should listen to ‘the sentiment of the people.’

The defence also sought the recusal of two judges on the appeal. First, Justice Sinha was mentioned in the ‘Skypegate’ recordings as having promised the disgraced Tribunal Chairman a promotion if he convicted three accused before the end of 2012. Second, it was alleged that Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury was appointed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court explicitly for the purpose of sitting on these appeals. The application for Justice Chowdhury’s recusal was based on his attendance at a number of Awami League meetings and having demonstrated clear bias. This defence application was not upheld and the appeal proceeded.

The trial process has been shown to be nothing short of a political show trial aimed at removing an Islamist Political Party, suppressing the opposition and securing the next election for the present Awami League Government.

The language of the trial judgment clearly demonstrates that it had little to do with individual criminal liability and more about demonising a political opponent.

What is clear from a number of damning disclosures by the international community and the media is the overwhelming evidence that reveals serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and the collusion of the Government with members of the judiciary and prosecution to bring about a desired result by convicting and executing leading members of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Coupled with the Government’s consistent pressure to ignore due process and deliver speedy convictions and prompt executions, the process has become a mockery of international law and undermines all major international instruments that protect fundamental human rights principles.

Conclusion:

The real motive behind the war Crime Tribunal is not removing stigma of the Nation, but it is politics at play. A divisive, fascist and a nonsense government is in full charge of the nation. There are a few things in common between both Sheikh Mujib and her daughter is that, none of them can tolerate other opinion, both have fascist thinking and both want power for life. They both break promises and lie, as we have seen how the spirit of liberation for ensuring social justice, human dignity, freedom and equality became oppression, tyranny, injustice, and one party rule as the norm. How 3 Lakhs became 3 million, and how innocent men became rapist, arsonist, and murderers. Sheikh Hasina not only breaks pledges and lies, but has the potential to destabilize the nation and unravel the delicate fabrics of the Bangladeshi democracy.


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