Monday, May 23, 2016

PAS right in condemning the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami in Bangladesh? Unfair Trials? Targetting Opposition? Abolish Death Penalty?

Motiur Rahman Nizami on 11/5/2016  forces us to look at Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (BICT), which really is not even an International tribunal - but really a Bangladeshi Tribunal.

after the Awami League won the general election in December 2008 with a more than two-thirds majority in parliament, they started using it. The BICT is 

international fair trial standards, a fact that has been raised by the UN and many Human Rights Groups. Even the Bangladesh's

lmost all of the ICT’s verdicts since it was established have been against members of opposition parties, mainly individuals associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Well serious crimes were also committed by pro-independence forces, but no one has been investigated or brought to justice for them.

In August 2013, the Bangladesh's High Court declared the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's main Islamist party, is illegal, banning it from contesting January's general election. - Aljazeera, 1/8/2013

By 2012, nine leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the nation, and two of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, had been indicted as suspects in war crimes. In February 2013, Abdul Quader Molla, Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was the first person sentenced to death by the ICT who was not convicted in absentia.

Quader Molla, former assistant secretary of  Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 12 December 2013.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, former  Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami was hanged on 22 November 2015

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury,  seven-term member of parliament and member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) hanged on 22 November 2015

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, former senior assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11 April 2015.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11/5/2016.

Others who have been convicted BICT and sentenced to death, and yet to be executed are Mir Quasem Ali (Jamaat-e-Islami) and Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin(uncertain?)

of Motiur Rahman Nizami, being one of the key leaders of Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh. PAS sees this execution as an action by reason of political rivalry and an act of revenge against Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh and its leaders. PAS urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed from the Awami League of Bangladesh to stop such cruel and uncivilized actions against Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh and its leaders in an effort to retain power [Translation of what I consider the gist, the actual statement in Bahasa Malaysia - Harakah Daily, 11/5/2016]

The PAS Youth Wing (Dewan Pemuda PAS Malaysia) also issued a similar statement - see Harakah Daily, 12/5/2016)

PAS needs to now take the just position  calling for the abolition of the death penalty not just in Bangladesh, but also in Malaysia.

Bangladesh executes Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes

Jamaat-e-Islami calls for general strike after hanging of its leader who was convicted of genocide, rape and massacres.

Bangladesh has executed head of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami party Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence to break away from Pakistan, the country's law minister said.

Nizami was hanged at Dhaka Central jail at one minute past midnight local time on Wednesday after the Supreme Court rejected his final plea against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the war.

Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in the capital Dhaka and other major cities to tighten security as Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide strike on Thursday in protest of the execution.

Previous similar judgments and executions have triggered violence that killed around 200 people, mainly Jamaat activists and police.
Bangladesh opposition leader loses death penalty appeal
Al Jazeera's Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from Dhaka, said the situation was still calm in the capital by Wednesday and there were no reports of violence in other cities.

"Unlike the last few years, Jamaat has not been able to materialise any kind of protest on the streets," he said, adding that this was mainly due to heavy-handed tactics used by the security forces.

"Jamaat supporters are not allowed to gather anywhere. Many of the leaders are behind the bars or on the run," he said.

"Human rights groups have criticised the government for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. So, it is hard for them to gather anywhere. We will see what will come out of Jamaat's call for a 24-hour strike tomorrow from 6am."

Jamaat-e-Islami denies that its leaders committed any atrocities. Calling Nizami a "martyr", it said he was deprived of justice and made a victim of a political vendetta. Nizami had been in prison since 2010.

'False allegations'

A senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader based abroad told Al Jazeera that Nizami was a supporter of Pakistan in 1971 but "all other allegations of killing, murder and rape are not correct. The tribunal has miserably failed to prove any of those allegations."

He said Jamaat leaders inside Bangladesh were not giving interviews because their phones were tapped and their families were harassed if they spoke to media.

"Not only leaders, thousands of middle-ranking and ordinary Jamaat workers have been forced to flee their homes due to police repression or harassment. They are refugees in their own country due the vindictive nature of this government," he said.

"Their agenda is to wipe out Islam gradually and whoever they think opposes their policies is being targeted."

Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the tribunal.

International human rights groups say the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards - an accusation the government denies.

According to Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division at the Human Rights Watch, the trial was neither free nor fair as the court was cutting corners on fair trial standards.

“For example, Nizami was allowed to have only four defence witnesses as a man fighting for his life.

And the court did allow defence to challenge the inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses," he told Al Jazeera from Bangkok.

"Finally, we have seen a significant problem in all of these war crimes trials, where the presiding judge was having ongoing discussions about judicial strategy with external consultants and prosecutors in a way that raises concerns about the independence of the panel."

Hundreds of people, mostly university students, took out a procession from Dhaka University to celebrate the execution [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

David Bergman, an investigative journalist in Dhaka, told Al Jazeera that there was long-standing allegations against Nizami since the end of the war.

"So the fact that there was a trial in which he was accused of these crimes is not itself political," he said, while also noting rights groups' criticism of the trials.

"There are no doubts that many members of Jamaat-e-Islami are concerned about trials and executions targeting its members, and the party itself is subject to significant repression."

The war crimes tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 has sparked violence and drawn criticism from opposition politicians, including leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, that it is victimising Hasina's political opponents.

According to the Bangladesh government, about three million people were killed and thousands of women were raped during the 1971 war in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the break from what was then called West Pakistan.

The execution comes as the country suffers a surge in violence in which atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed.

In April alone, five people, including a university teacher, two gay activists and a Hindu, were hacked to death. - Aljazeera, 11/5/2016

Motiur Rahman Nizami: Bangladeshi Islamist leader hanged

  • 10 May 2016
An Islamist leader has been hanged in Bangladesh for crimes during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, was executed early on Wednesday (local time), Law Minister Anisul Haq confirmed.

He had been convicted of genocide, rape and torture.

Nizami had led Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami. Hundreds of people gathered near his prison in the capital Dhaka to celebrate the hanging.

Nizami was the fifth and highest-ranked opposition leader to be executed since December 2013 for war crimes.

Bangladesh says the prosecutions are needed to heal the wounds of conflict but human rights groups say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight.

'Deprived of justice'

Last week, Nizami lost his final appeal against the sentence. He was hanged after refusing to seek mercy from President Abdul Hamid.

"Nizami has been deprived of justice," Jamaat's acting leader, Maqbul Ahmad, said. "He's a victim of political vengeance."

The party also called for a nationwide strike on Thursday.

Security was tightened across the country ahead of the execution.

Nizami is the fourth leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party to have been executed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up a war crimes tribunal to look into abuses during the independence war.

A former government minister, Nizami was one of the most important figures to be found guilty.

He was convicted of setting up a militia which helped the Pakistani army identify and kill pro-independence activists.

Nizami will be buried in his village home in the northern part of Bangladesh.

His family met him briefly before his execution but left without speaking to the media, Bangladesh's Daily Star reports.

The hanging comes amid a spate of killings of liberal activists, secularists, foreigners and members of religious minorities that the government has blamed on Islamists.

Bangladesh independence war, 1971

  • Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
  • Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
  • In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
  • Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
  • East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971
  • Exact number of people killed is unclear - Bangladesh says it is three million but independent researchers put the figure at up to 500,000 fatalities.

Source: BBC, 10/5/2016


Nizami executed

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Matiur Rahman NizamiBangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister Matiur Rahman Nizami was executed on Wednesday on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.

Also a former member of parliament, Nizami was executed inside the Dhaka central jail shortly after the midnight past Tuesday following exhaustion of all legal options.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), AKM Shahidul Hoque, confirmed to the Prothom Alo that Nizami was executed at 12:10am on Wednesday.

Earlier in the evening, Nizami’s family members met him in jail for the last time at 8:00pm on Tuesday.

Some 25 family members of Nizami stayed around one and half an hours inside the jail and had their final talks with Nizami.

The ameer of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is the fifth such convict, who was hanged after awarded with death sentence by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICT,B).

The jail authorities started taking all necessary preparations to execute the Jamaat leader shortly after the government’s execution order reached the prison on Tuesday afternoon.

The home ministry ordered the jail authorities to hang Nizami after the chief of the Islam-based political party refused to seek presidential mercy for his life, the last step of the legal process before the execution.

Security in and around the Dhaka Central Jail was beefed up with the deployment of huge contingent of law enforcement agency members in the area.

Additional police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members were seen to station around the Dhaka jail.

Besides, members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were deployed in the capital as elsewhere in the country to fend off any untoward incident.

All the roads around the central jail were made off-limits to traffic in the evening.

Earlier, an inmate of Kashimpur Central Jail, Mohammad Raju, was brought to Dhaka Central Jail on Tuesday as he was believed to be the main hangman for Nizami.

Members of law enforcement agencies entered the jail along with hangman Mohammad Raju around 3:00pm, officials said.

On 15 March, the ICT,B issued a death warrant for Nizami on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war.

Earlier on 6 January this year, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by the chief justice, Surendra Kumar Sinha, upheld the death sentence of the Jamaat ameer.

The apex court upheld his death penalty on three of the four counts of charges while he was acquitted on the rest one.

The SC upheld his life term imprisonment on two charges, out of four in connection with the arrest, detention, torture, and murder of three people, including headmaster Maulana Kasim Uddin of Pabna Zila School on 4 June 1971, complicity in torture, murder and rape at Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute in Dhaka, and murder of Badi, Rumi, Jewel and Azad at Old MP Hostel in Dhaka on 30 August 1971.

The ICT,B sentenced Nizami the capital punishment each on four counts of charges of war crimes.

On 29 October 2014, the ICT,B-1 sentenced Nizami to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war.

Nizami filed an appeal with the SC on 23 November 2014 challenging the death sentence and claimed himself innocent and sought to be cleared of the charges.

Earlier on 22 November 2015, two former ministers—BNP standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed—were executed on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.

Before that, Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was executed on 11 April 2015 and another assistant secretary general Abdul Kader Molla on 12 December 2013 on the same charge.

Jamaat, however, claimed all along that the trial process was flawed and its leaders have been made victims of political vendetta. - Prothom Allo Banglades, 12/5/2016

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