Citizens International strongly condemns the conviction and death sentence passed by the much-criticised Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal-2 (ICT-2) on the Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.
The death sentence imposed on Mujahid is the continued judicial lynching of the top leadership of the Jamaat. Earlier, Jamaat deputy chief Delwar Hossain Sayedee and assistant secretary general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman were convicted and sentenced to death by the two international crimes tribunals set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’sAwami League (AL) government.
Several other top Jamaat leaders have been lined up to go through the judicial charade and to be executed in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had warned: “…no one will be able to stop the trial of war criminals. They will be executed on this soil” (The Daily Star, 3 March 2013).
The only crime committed by the Jamaat leaders was to oppose, in 1971, the armed movement, supported by India and led by Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, that wanted East Pakistan to break away from Pakistan and declare independence. 42 years after the 1971 civil war, Hasina and secular fundamentalist intellectuals and organisations are using the judiciary to take revenge on their enemies and to eliminate Islamic political parties.
The ICT has been widely criticised by human rights groups, United Nations bodies and renowned legal scholars for failing to adopt international standards to ensure a fair trial and adequate protection of the rights of the accused. The judges appointed to ICT owe their position to the Awami League government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The cases have been based on fabricated and 4th degree hearsay evidence. It is incredible that for over 40 years no evidence could be found to prosecute and punish these leaders who have been active in politics and social life in Bangladesh. The ‘evidence’ only begins to emerge after 2008 when the AL won the elections with a thumping majority and agreed to prosecute the Jamaat leaders as ‘war criminals’ to satisfy the demands of the secular fundamentalists and to break up the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-Jamaat alliance.
The trials are flawed by the bias displayed by the judges hearing the cases. Documents were allowed to be put in by the Prosecution without calling the makers. The prosecutor wilfully misled the court on the availability of witnesses whose documents were admitted as evidence. A Defence witness Sukranjan Bali was abducted by the police at the doorsteps of the court. No enquiry was ordered when the abduction of Bali and the prosecutor’s misconduct were brought to the attention of the judges, supported by strong evidence.
Judges were changed in the middle of the trial and they decided the case without hearing the witnesses testify orally in court. The trials are nothing but show trials to justify to the Bangladesh public the decision taken by the government to eliminate Jamaat and its leaders.
With the publication in the British weekly The Economist and the Bangladesh daily Amar Desh the Skype conversations and emails between the ICT-1 Chairman Justice Ziaul Haq and Jamaat-hater Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, it is now public knowledge that there has been collusion among the judges, prosecutors, government ministers and Ziauddin to convict the Jamaat leaders. Even the Chief Justice is implicated in this plot to pervert the course of justice. Ziauddin, who lives in Belgium, was directing the trials, preparing judgment and orders, advising the judge and prosecutors on the choice of witnesses and dealing with applications by the defendants.
The death sentences passed on the Jamat leaders, if carried out, would amount to judicial murder. The Haq-Ziauddin communication signals the collapse of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Bangladesh. The international community, in particular the United Nations, cannot remain idle in the face of judicial murder taking place in this 21st century when humankind is celebrating the triumph of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
We call on the United Nations Security Council to take effective action to pressure the Awami League government to discontinue the trials and to set up an independent tribunal to investigate the war crimes committed during the 1971 civil war and to prosecute and punish those responsible, regardless of party affiliation, for those crimes. This is the road that must be taken to do justice to the victims of the crimes and their families, and achieve national reconciliation.
S.M. Mohamed Idris