A Response To The Students Of Dhaka University
By Hassanal Noor Rashid
10 June, 2016
This article is to address the response made by the Students of Dhaka University on the 30th May 2016 towards Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s response to their inquiries ( 19 May 2016) pertaining to the article “The Hanging of Nizami and the Grip on Political Power” (12 May 2016).
In this article, we will be responding and clarifying the key points addressed by the Students of Dhaka University.
We commend the students of Dhaka University for taking an active approach in participating in an open discussion on what may be considered to be a sensitive topic. We understand it deals directly with various personal perceived grievances and controversial events in Bangladesh’s history and may incite emotive responses.
However as a matter of principle, we at the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) are committed to addressing the injustices within the existing global system, wherever that may be. We place great value on human dignity and social justice with a strong assertion for integrity, compassion and a rational intellectual discourse.
Below are the responses to the Students of Dhaka University:
1) The names of the Non-Government Organizations (NGO) have been clearly and specifically listed previously in Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s response on 19th May 2016. Below is the quoted section for clarity:
“ Criticisms of the trials and of the general human rights situation in Bangladesh have come from many quarters, and not just one organisation. Apart from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and the Turkish government, civil society groups such as the Asian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, among others, have denounced the executions, extra-judicial killings, incarceration, torture, and forced disappearances of activists, journalists and members of the public in general.”
Among other notable NGOs are the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales.
On Turkey’s alleged role in the Armenian genocide, that is another matter altogether and while it is an injustice that deserves to be addressed, there is no real value in raising it here as it is not related in any way to the valid and substantiated criticisms levelled against the Bangladeshi Government in regards to the trial of Motiur Rahman Nizami.
2) Turning to the incident in which a prosecution witness was kidnapped and was later found in a jail in India, the incident has been reported by the Daily Ittifaq, BBC Bangladesh and many other credible news institutions.
There are also a number of video resources which can be found online, a few examples of which are as follows:
While the incident may be of one case, claiming that it is statistically unviable is a fallacious rhetoric which dismisses important evidence that legitimately calls into question the integrity of the judicial process.
3) With regards to the 2012 scandal on Skype involving a judge from the Bangladesh government established International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in which does highlight political motivations within the Judiciary process, please refer to the article below by The Economist entitled ”Trying War Crimes in Bangladesh: The Trial of the Birth of a Nation” for further information:
We would also like to recommend referring to a research paper entitled “ Judicial Murder : The Bangladesh Judiciary on Trial” (2013, Citizens International, Pulau Pinang). Specifically we encourage reading Chapter 4 “Conspiracy to Commit Judicial Murder”.
4) The Turkish delegation which went to Dhaka to monitor the ICT proceedings was not allowed into the country and was sent back to the airport which raises suspicion.
5) As an additional reference on the matter pertaining to the trial, please find below the translated text of the speech of Mr Nizami during the trial on 28 May 2012 which clarifies his role during the 1971 Liberation War:
Alhamdulillah WassalatuWassalamuAlaRasulillahWa Ma TawfiqeeIllaBillah. FaAlaihiTawakkaltuWaIlaihiUneeb
I want to categorically inform the court: during the war of liberation in 1971 I was not involved in anything else other than politics. Politically, we demanded handing over power to the elected representatives. Jamaat-e-Islami demanded the same, so did IslamiChhatraSangha. I believe, along with the rest of the world, that tragic incident would not have happened had power been handed over according to the results of the elections of 1970. At the same time history also knows who impeded the power transition after the election. Who obstructed the transfer of power? No one can show that Jamaat-e-Islami voiced anything that may have hindered the transfer of power. As the President of IslamiChhatraSangha, I was the first to protest against what Mr. Bhutto said. It was Mr.Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who obstructed the transfer of power. He used Yahya Khan or Yahya Khan used him; or they did it together. However, we had no connection with the causes that created the circumstances for genocide.
By chance, I happened to be the President of IslamiChhatraSangha Pakistan at that time. I was President till the last week of September. In a conference in Multan from 25-30 September, I resigned from my position following an election. I had no activities afterwards. I used to work in a research academy as a research fellow. The incident you brought against me in charge number 16, I was not the President of IslamiChhatraSangha at that time; neither was I a member of that organisation; nor did I hold any position in Jamaat-e-Islami then. Therefore, I did not have any role at that time. I have been alleged to be the commander of Al Badr; [but] the newspaper clippings that have been provided as evidence, none of those clippings have the designation of Al Badr commander or Razakar chief next to my name. Page 36 of the book that has been handed over to me as formal charge clearly states that the former Ansar force was transformed into Razakar; all resources of Ansar force were handed to Razakar force and the Ansar officers were kept as officers of Razakar force. Therefore, how can I have the scope of being a commander? The book you prepared proves that I had no scope for that.
I visited some places as the President of ChhatraSangha and delivered speeches; however, not all the statements in the newspapers are mine. Your book also has that evidence. There is a notion of one speech of mine in Jessore. I spoke of verses 111 and 112 of Surah Tawbah; you will notice that there is partial translation of verse 111. [But] there is not a single reference to verse 112. This proves that newspapers do not record all the statements of a speaker. Therefore, if the same happens in other cases where statements that were not mine were attributed to me, it would not be strange.
[Regarding] the criminal offences that have been mentioned, I am transparent to my conscience, I am transparent to Allah that I had a political role but I was not involved in any immoral and inhumane activities by the grace of Allah; Allah did not involve me in any such thing. The incidents that have been mentioned here were not perpetrated in my presence, not committed in front of me, not done in my knowledge, not executed by my consent and I was not even aware of them. Honourable court, I am coming to the point that I visited some place; however, I am the only son of my parents and I did not even go to visit them during the war of liberation in 1971; I did not stay in my locality. I did not go to my residence let alone to the greater Pabna area. Therefore, the few forces that were formed there, I can tell with full responsibility these are nothing but the most heinous lies in history. There is no question of my involvement in any of those. I did not even know many of these places. I visited many places before the elections in 1986; I did not know these places before that time. It is seen here that in an incident in Karmoja I [was alleged to have] arranged a meeting in retaliation for not voting in my favour. I did not even take part in the elections of 1970! I was not a candidate in that election, [so] where does the question of voting in my favour come in? And where does the question of retaliation for not voting in my favour come in?
If given a chance to talk, there are many things to talk about; I clearly want to say that when my name was published in the newspaper in 1988 as the Secretary General, my wife said, “Someone called claiming to be a friend of yours.” What did he say? He asked her, “Do you wish to be a widow?” She questioned him as to why he was asking that. He replied, “We will kill your husband in front of you.” She said, “Okay, do that if you can.” He replied, “Why do you accept that so easily; keep him away from assuming the responsibilities of the Secretary General. Keep him away from being active in the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami.” My wife replied, “He does what he feels to be right, I cannot prevent him from doing that.”
Honourable court, afterwards, I took part in the parliamentary election in 1991 and was elected as a Member of Parliament and elected as the leader of the parliamentary party. Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee was formed in 1992. We had to struggle against the activities of this Committee in parliament, in the Supreme Court as well as in the streets. As General Secretary and leader of the parliamentary party I had to play a role. I came to the centre of attention from that time.
Afterwards, the incident of Karmoja that was described, is an interesting case. In November of 2000 the result of the election for the Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami was declared and I was elected Ameer for the first time. After the election, it was decided that I would be sworn in on 6 December. On that day, some bones were dug up from an old grave and shown on TV, which was only to defame the new Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. No one had brought up this incident before that day. Besides, Karmoja lies in the entry point of my constituency Santhiathana. I go here via that area, nevertheless, no one ever brought to me such allegation. They concocted this incident so that I could not enter my constituency. But, by the grace of Allah, in the following election I received the highest number of votes from that constituency.
Honourable court, no party or individual was identified as a war criminal because of the political role. Not only army but including the auxiliary force, a total of 195 individuals were identified as war criminals. Those who were the members of Malek cabinet, they were not included there. No member of the Peace Committee from the central to the district level was included there. Politically, Sabur Khan was a top leader; the founder of Bangladesh, the late Sheikh MujiburRahman, himself freed him from prison and sent him home in a vehicle. Therefore, I do not think that there is any scope for identifying someone as a war criminal or committing a crime against humanity because of political role. I read in the Holiday magazine before being arrested that 195 individuals were set free to save the leadership of Mr.Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I mentioned a while earlier that Mr.Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is the actor behind the genocide. I can clearly remember that when the assembly was postponed on 1 March, there was a cricket match going on in the stadium that day. The spectators took to the streets leaving the game and chanted, “Kick Bhutto in the head, free Bangladesh.” That same Mr. Bhutto came to Bangladesh on a state visit in 1974 and received an unprecedented reception. Because of the large crowd, he was taken to the [Savar] monument not by road, but flown there by helicopter. These are parts of history.
Honourable court, the anger at me grew to some extent as I became a minister following the election in 2001; I had come to attention after being elected the Ameer of Jamaat, I came to further attention after becoming a minster. But I want to categorically state that as a minister I never acted against the sovereignty or interest of the country. While I was the Minister of Agriculture, saplings of fruit trees were added to the tree plantation campaign, as a result of which the production of indigenous fruits increased twofold. I was then transferred to the Ministry of Industries; after 12 years the sugar industry turned into a profitable industry.
Honourable court, no government is the last government and no judgment of the world is the final judgment; there will be another judgment in the hereafter. Everyone including you and I will have to face that judgment. How were the witnesses for this trial assembled! How were the complainants gathered! How was a vindictive campaign of politics of vengeance perpetrated in the name of investigation!
Honourable court, I would like to request you; you have performed the Hajj while assuming that position. You have visited the shrine of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him); I would like to bring forward two Hadith of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). One is: it is adequate for an individual to be a liar, who states whatever he hears. According to this statement of the Holy Prophet, rumours cannot be used as evidence in trials. I have a Kamil [equivalent to Masters] degree in Islamic jurisprudence. Based on that, I am stressing on this point. The second Hadith is regarding the responsibility, duty and honour of judges. There are three categories of judges: judges belonging to the first class are those who unearth and realise the truth and give verdicts in favour of that, they will go to Heaven. There is another category of judges, who understand the truth but give verdicts against it; they will go to Hell. The last category of judges who give verdicts without understanding anything, they also go to Hell. I wholeheartedly pray for you who are responsible for this tribunal; in the words of the Holy Prophet may Allah give you the opportunity to become judges belonging to the first class and save you from becoming judges of the second and third categories.
I rely on Allah. O Allah! You judge the truth among us. Truly, Allah is the best arbitrator.
7) The trial proceedings had numerous flaws which blatantly show the levels of politicization and influence employed to ensure a predetermined outcome of the trial of Motiur Rahman Nizami. One need not look further that the fact that during the course of Nizami’s trial, the Defence was limited to 4 witnesses while the prosecution was allowed 22. The Defence was not allowed to even cross-examine a key Prosecution Witness.
It has to also be highlighted that the Defence was only given 3 weeks to prepare for the trial while the Prosecution had 22 Months.
An exercise in reasoning alone would highlight the lack of sincere commitment to a fair trial. It calls into question the integrity of the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal.
8) It is also important to point out that the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights had called for a halt to the executions of Nizami, stating that the trials before the Tribunal had not met international standards of fair trial and due process. A reference to the article is as below:
9) Apart from Sarmila Bose’s book, we would also recommend reading Yasmin Saikia’s book entitled “Women, War and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971”.
As Dr Chandra Muzaffar had mentioned previously, none of what we have noted here should be construed as an attempt to ignore or downplay the atrocities committed by those who were proponents for a united and undivided Pakistan in 1971. A terrible tragedy had occurred and the victims deserve justice.
However, a trial where the proceedings appear politicised, lack transparency and fail to meet high judicial standards ( this is particularly necessary considering the high profile nature of this trial), only serves to ironically rob any legitimate claims of justice for the victims’ families.
There can be no justice without integrity.
We at JUST cannot, in good conscience allow for such a travesty of the judicial process to go unaddressed.
The Students of Dhaka University have persistently challenged us to name organizations and persons in their response which we have done so both here and previously. They have also demanded for evidence on our criticisms of the Bangladesh Judicial practices.Whilst we have provided various examples, there are multitudes of evidence which are available should one take the time to research.
In this connection, we would like to ask who are these ‘students of Dhakka University? What are their names? What are their identities? Why have they chosen to remain anonymous?
Finally, we have no intention of prolonging this exchange. It does not enhance the quest for truth and justice.
Hassanal Noor Rashid
JUST Program Coordinator
10 JUNE 2016