WEB DESK: Chief of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Motiur Rehman Nizami has been executed in a Dhaka jail for alleged crimes committed during the events that led to the secession of East Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
He was the fifth opposition leader sentenced to death by a special tribunal set up by Prime Minister Hasina Wajed’s government in 2009.
Three of the four men hanged earlier belonged to JI and the fourth to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Pakistan of course reacted angrily to the hanging. The Foreign Office issued a condemnatory statement, saying the JI leader’s only crime was his loyalty to Pakistan before the secession of its eastern wing. And echoing the same sentiment the National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Wednesday to aver “the people being executed in Bangladesh did not commit any crime under the law and the constitution of that time.”
From the perspective of impartial observers, the trial has been objectionable on three important counts. First of all, as various international rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have been pointing out the trial process was deeply flawed; the proceedings lacked transparency while lawyers and witnesses faced harassment. Secondly, during the events of 1971 the JI had sided with Pakistan which was then the lawful government in what later became Bangladesh.
Therefore the party’s leaders tried by the tribunal could not be accused of betraying their own people. Third and most importantly, under a 1974 Tripartite Agreement, Bangladesh government had decided to give amnesty to all accused of committing war-related crimes. Prime Minister Hasina Wajed’s clearly wants to rake up bitter memories of the past to draw political mileage out of them to deal with her present-day problems, which would causes unnecessary sharpening of divisions in society.
It is worthwhile to note that the JI has since been playing a prominent role in that country’s mainstream politics. Motiur Rehman was a former elected leader of parliament who also served as a minister in prime minister Khaleda Zia’s coalition government.
His execution triggered widespread protest demonstrations by JI activists who say charges against him were false and aimed at eliminating the party leadership. During the recent months the country has seen brutal murders of secular bloggers and gay rights activists at the hands of religious extremists while the IS and al Qaeda are also reported to have gained their respective footholds in the country.
The policy of repression the government has adopted against a mainstream religious party can drive more and more people towards the extremists. Prime Minister Hasina needs to look at the wider picture and restrain from persecuting politicians who irk her for personal or political reasons.
Last but not least, that Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Dhaka for consultations after strongly protesting against JI leader’s execution is a fact that clearly explains the profoundly delirious flaws in Hasina’s approach to the 1971 events.
Source: Business Recorder