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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2862

Dhaka Diary: Dhaka passing Holidays- Eid-ul Azha celebrated,

Rajen Thakur- Diplomatic Correspondent with agency inputs from Dhaka

Council of HRCBM-Bangladesh Formed;

Trial of War Criminals of 1971 demanded,

Joint Declaration on War Criminals by Sixty Organizations Soon

Dhaka, December 23, 2007 ( Bangladesh celebrated Eid-ul Azha , the second largest religious festival of Muslims, across the country amidst due religious fervour and spirit of sacrifice. However, the usual enthusiasm for the festival will be missing among the Cyclone Sidr hit people of southern part of Bangladesh. Thousands of people left Dhaka for their rural homes to celebrate the festival after going through the hurdles of managing tickets for buses, trains and launches. Three day long government holiday started since 21 December, Newspapers offices also remained closed. However, the government offices will not be illuminated this year due to cyclone tragedy. It appears from reports in the dailies that Bangladesh may take its turn to politics violating the emergency rule in the January 2008.

New Executive Council of HRCBM-Bangladesh Formed:

A 33-member Executive Council of the Bangladesh National Chapter of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) was constituted at an assembly held on the premises of Swami Bholanandagiri Ashram Trust at KM Das Lane at Tikatuly in Dhaka recently.

Professor Dr Ajoy K Roy, a retired teacher of Dhaka University, and former additional secretary of Bangladesh government Rabindranath Trivedi were elected unanimously as president and secretary general of HRCBM Bangladesh National Chapter respectively at the meeting chaired by Prof Dr Ajoy K Roy.

The among other office bearers of the newly Elected Executive Council of HRCBM-Bangladesh National Chapter are Vice- Presidents: Brig Gen (Retd) Jayanta Kumar Sen, Additional secretary (Retired) N G Paul, Retired DIG, Police P R Barua, President Central Puja Committee Chitta Ranjan Sarkar, Retired Addl. D I G,Police Satya Ranjan Barai, Prof P B Chakma of Dhaka University, Advocate Subrata Chowdhury of Bangladesh Supreme Court, General Secretary of Adibashi Forum Sanjib Drong, Bishop Michael Baroi , B N Chowdhury, Trustee Swami Bholanandagiri Ashrama Trust and former Ambassador S S Chakma

In his introductory remarks at the first executive committee meeting of HRCBM Bangladesh National Chapter Prof Ajoy Roy said Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), is formed with a mission to strengthen our people called minorities who are placed in a disadvantageous position economically, administratively, socially and politically.

"Our mission is to blend human rights advocacy with humanitarian services and sustainable development; so that minorities in Bangladesh may prosper in free and fair atmosphere and may make full contribution towards national development, international peace and cooperation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of the mankind," he said adding: "We the members of HRCBM, a human rights organisation, an NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) of the United Nations have no other aspiration or interest, political or any sorts

The HRCBM-Bangladesh National Chapter under its secretary general is engaged with the relief operation in the cyclone-ravaged areas in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, HRCBM-Central headed by Dhiman Deb Chowdhury and his friends in Europe and USA has extended its generous hand to its Bangladesh National Chapter’s relief operation.

Repression of minorities still rife in Bangladesh

Although many things have changed during this caretaker government, repression of minorities is still going on, speakers at a seminar on Minority Human Rights in Bangladesh said on 18 December. No governments since independence could take any effective measures to stop violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the country, they said.

According to newspaper reports, at least 22 incidents of repression of indigenous people took place in September, they added. Prof Ajay presented the history and present scenario of the repression of minorities in this sub-continent as well as in the country while Associate Professor Gobinda Chandra Mondol of Department of Law in Dhaka University delivered the keynote speech. It is the duty of the state to protect the rights of all citizens, but all the successive governments have failed to do so, the speakers said.
The minority people have faced inhuman torture by the majority community in the wake of Babri Mosque issue in 1992 and after the 2001 general elections, they said.

Expressing concern that the number of incidents of torture of minorities goes up after the national elections, they urged the government to take necessary steps so that no such incidents take place after the next election. Samprity Mancha or Platform for Harmony and Peace organised the seminar in cooperation with the Institute for Environment and Development (IED) at the National Pres Club, with Prof Ajay Roy in the chair reports the daily star.

Trial of War Criminals: News reports, photos enough for trial

The International Crimes Act 1973 provides the government with enormous power to still try the war criminals of 1971 by setting up tribunals without facing legal hurdles since the law makes newspaper reports and photographs of war crimes admissible in court as evidence.

The Act which was promulgated under the blanket immunity for the government provided by the first amendment to the constitution in 1973 for trying war criminals, also scraps the usual protections ensured for the accused in the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and in Evidence Act 1872, in an effort to ensure meting out of punishments to war criminals says the daily star report.

It empowers the government to establish an agency for the purpose of investigating war crimes, and provides the officers of the agency with enormous power to investigate the crimes, despite the cancellation of Bangladesh Collaborators Order 1972.

Legal experts said the government may enforce the law any time and may set up tribunals by issuing gazette notifications for trying the war criminals. A war criminal may be tried based on newspaper reports and photographs as the International Crime Act empowers the court to admit those as evidence.

The legal experts also said reports and statements, which were published in the Daily Sangram, the official voice of Jamaat-e-Islami, during the liberation war of Bangladesh, about the activities of the anti-liberation forces, might be sufficient to try the collaborators of the Pakistan occupation forces. Other national and international newspapers published during the liberation war also ran news and photographs about the activities of the anti-liberation local forces, which are also admissible in courts according to the law, said the experts.

Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, accused of war crimes, are now denying their anti-liberation activities in 1971, but its official mouthpiece, the Daily Sangram, still bears the documents of their dastardly deeds. Other national and international news media of the time also carried news of Jamaat's atrocities on the struggling Bangalee nation. Jamaat leaders Golam Azam, Abbas Ali Khan, Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Mohammad Quamarruzzaman, Abdul Quader Mollah, ATM Azharul Islam, Abdus Sobhan and others launched anti -liberation campaigns across the country and organised anti-liberation forces during the liberation war of Bangladesh.

With wholehearted cooperation from Jamaat and some other ultra-rightist political parties, the erstwhile Pakistan government formed forces like Razkars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams to resist the liberation of Bangladesh. The principal task of the forces were to provide the Pakistan occupation army with battle field support and intelligence about local resistance groups, and to identify and eliminate Bangalee nationalists.

The current Jamaat leadership, although did not deny their anti-liberation activities earlier and rather termed their activities of the time as the product of their political stance, are now issuing statements denying the allegations against them in the wake of a growing demand for trials of war criminals, since most of its central leaders are accused of war crimes.

"With honesty and sincerity, we had trust in the then Pakistan," Motirur Rahman Nizami, the then secretary general of Jamaat, told the nation on a state run Bangladesh Television programme 'Sabinoye Jante Chai', on June 4, 1996, ahead of the seventh parliamentary election. Nizami's claim proved that Jamaat worked against the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, but the current Secretary General of Jamaat Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed on October 25 this year denied their involvement in anti-liberation activities claiming that such forces never existed.

A large number of leaders and activists of Jamaat were accused of war crimes as the trial of war criminals began in 1972 following the enactment of the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order 1972. Citizenships of the erstwhile amir of Jamaat, Golam Azam, and of some others were also revoked soon after the victory in the war. To ensure trial of war criminals the constitution was amended in 1973 providing the government with unlimited power to try war criminals by enacting any type of laws, no matter whether those contradict the constitution or not.

The central figure in drafting the act, Dr Kamal Hossain, told The Daily Star earlier, "In principle, this law is in force and can be invoked for all the cases that fall under its ambit., reports the daily star"

Trial of War Criminals: demanded by 60 Freedom Fighters and Social Organisations in Dhaka

The Sector Commanders, Valiant Freedom Fighters and other socio-cultural organizations in favor of idealism in Bangladesh War of Liberation, sixty in number, raised in a single voice demanded the trial of war criminals in Bangladesh, reports Jugantar, a Bengali daily in Dhaka on Thursday.

This is the first time after 36 years of independence of Bangladesh; these organizations have forged their differences and united in their demand of trial of War Criminals. These organizations will declare a common programme for trial of War Criminals of 1971 on 29th December at Dhaka.

Among others the prominent signatories are: Sector Commanders Forum, Ekaturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, Sammilito Sanskriti Jote, Banladesh Bar Council, Mukti Joddha Command Council, Bangladesh Hindu Bouddha, Christian Unity Council, Dhaka University Teachers Association, Supreme Court Bar Association, Bangladesh Federal Union Of Journalist, Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) Bangladesh National Chapter, Mahila Samity, Joy Bangla Sankritic Oikya Jote., War Crime Fact Finding Committee , Bangabandhu Parishad and Swadhinata Chikistak Parisad

Bangladesh genocide is second to that of Nazi genocide of the Jews:

It may be recalled that in 1971 the Pakistan occupation army and their collaborators like the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islami Chhatra Sangha (currently renamed Islami Chhatra Shibir) and their killing squads, the Al-Badr and the Al-Shams, are guilty of genocide. Since majority of Bengali-speaking East Pakistanis (Sheikh Mujib got 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan) or ethnic group favoured an independent Bangladesh, they waged a war with the intent to destroy that ethnic group. The Pak army opened fire on the un-armed masses of Bengali ethnic group on the midnight of March 25, 1971 killing 19,000 to 25,000 Bengali ethnic people on that dark night alone; over a period of 10 months, 3 million Bengalis were reportedly killed, 30 million were dislodged from their homes and 10 million had to take refuge in neighbouring India due to cleansing operation, fear and repression. As per global ranking, Bangladesh genocide is second to that of Nazi genocide of the Jews.

The International Crime Act of 1973, which allows trial of war criminals, is still active. Therefore, the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed that has started many essential reforms can try the war criminals and punish them provided it has the required commitment, writes Abdul Momen

Rajen Thakur is a researcher- author and columnist.

- Asian Tribune -

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