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Human Rights and Development for Bangladesh Newsletter

25 November 2015

Miscarriage of Justice in
Bangladesh court wasted no time in
handing down the two prominent opposition politicians, Mujahid and
Salahuddin, the death sentence

19th of August, 1971.

Controversies over trial

An illustrious politician, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid is the Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the
largest Islamic political party in Bangladesh.

As reported by David Bergman, the defense argued that Chowdhury was not
present in Chittagong on these two parWith the execution of Salahuddin Quad- ticular dates (or indeed throughout the 9
er Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujahid on month war).
the eve of the 21st of November, controversy surrounding the war crimes trials
However, the tribunal not only limited
in Bangladesh has attained new dimen- Chowdhurys defence to 5 witnesses
sions. Not only did they face gross injus- against the 41 witnesses by the prosetice, but as will be elucidated later on in cution, it also did not take into account
this piece, the defendants were victim to sworn affidavits submitted to the court
dirty tricks and cheap propaganda by
by several individuals, among them 5
vested quarters as well.
prominent Pakistani witnesses who say
that Chowdhury was in Karachi in April
Earlier, on the 18th of November, the
1971, the time of occurrence of the four
Appellate division of the Supreme Court offences he has been accused of. The
of Bangladesh rejected review petitions court simply ruled them as been inadby the two politicians against the death
missible, vaguely stating that they had
sentences imposed on them by the Innot been submitted correctly.
ternational War Crimes Tribunal, a local
court set to try perpetrators of crimes
The verdict against Ali Ahsan Mujaagainst humanity during the war of inde- hid is another classical case of a mispendence of the country in 1971.
carriage of justice.

The trials have however have been rife

with controversy, and local and international human rights bodies and renowned legal experts like Geoffrey Robertson QC have raised concerns on the
proceedings and various aspects of successive trials since their inception in

He was Minister for Social Welfare during the tenure of the 4-Party Alliance
government led by BNP-Jamaat from

The latest verdicts against Salahuddin

He was sentenced, on the basis of asQuader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Muja- sumption and hearsay, of being guilty of
hid are no different.
the conspiracy to murder all intellectuals
in 1971, a bizarre statement by its own
A seven-time MP with an illustrious polit- right considering that there was no conical career, Salahuddin Quader Chowcrete evidence presented to substantiate
dhury was a sitting MP from the port city such a claim. Mujahid was convicted on
Chittagong in Bangladesh. He was the
four charges along with the death senson of the well known Bengali politician tence for killing intellectuals.
Fazlul Quader Chowdhury who served
as the 5th speaker of the National AsAn in depth analogy of the trial reveals
sembly of Pakistan from East Pakistan
that fundamentally problematic hearsay
from 1963-65.
statements were used to indict the defendant, such as the statement of RusAll charges, and subsequently death
tom Ali Mollah. A 14 year old guard at
sentences against Salahuddin Quader
the time, Rustom claimed that he had
Chowdhury hinge on the claim that he
seen Mujahid at the gate of the Physical
was at Chittagong during the 13th and
Training Institute, 3-4 months after the

Human Rights and Development for Bangladesh Newsletter

beginning of the liberation war, conversing with an army officer from far off.
Although he confessed that he had never seen or heard of Mujahid beforehand
and that he heard the other guards saying Mujahid was here along with others,
his evidence was used to prove that
Mujahid had been scheming with the
Pakistani army and was involved with
the intellectual killing at this institute
later in 1971.
The only other witness in this charge is
Jahir Uddin Jalal, who was 13 years old
at the time, and gave hearsay evidence,
claiming that Rustom the guard had told
him that Mujahid came to the Physical
Training institute in Mohammadpur,
Dhaka. On cross examination, Rustom
the guard claimed that he did not know
who Jalal was.
An interesting point to note here is that
the father of Rustom Ali the guard, Mohammad Rohom Ali Molla, is still alive
and was also working at the Center,
also as a guard, at the time. Yet the
father was not called to be witness.

cipal, Tareq Iqbal Khan Majlis (he was a

class 8 student in 1971), were not
brought to the tribunal as witnesses as
well. Moreover, the investigation officer
did not take the statement of any teacher or staff, who were employees of that
college during that time in 1971 or bring
them as witnesses.
Despite the clear discrepancies highlighted above, the court wasted no time
in handing down the two prominent opposition politicians the death sentence.
The trials, and in particular, the recent
verdicts have been widely criticized by
many rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, NWPJ,
ICJ, prominent politicians like Lord Carlyle and Tom Brake and intellectuals
such as Toby Cadman or Grahame Lucas, all of who had asked the Bangladesh government to stop the executions. Furthermore, on the day of their
execution, both politicians were subject
to sleazy tactics and propaganda on
part of those vested interests, notably
the government.

Similarly, the erstwhile principal of the

Earlier, the government shut down sovery same institute, Muhib Ullah Khan
cial media communication tools FaceMajlis and his son, the present day prin- book, Viber and Whatsapp among

25 November 2015

others from the 18th of November, the

same day the review appeals were rejected.
On the 20th of November, local news
media surprisingly reported that both
men had appealed for Presidential
clemency, a fact that the families of both
vehemently denounced as false and
fake. No further explanation was given
by the government, which hurriedly announced that the clemency applications had been rejected, and oblivious
to all concerns, proceeded to carry out
the executions after 12 midnight on 21st

Apparently, as far as the Bangladesh government was concerned,

it had successfully weathered all
criticism by simply choosing to
ignore them. Blinded by myopically construed political interests,
it had chosen to disregard all valid concerns surrounding fair trial
standards and create another
dangerous precedent by carrying
out a miscarriage of justice instead.

Be Vocal Against Judicial Murder

It is deeply regrettable that Bangladesh government didnt pay heed to numerous concerns and warnings by international community in order to make the process of trial under International War Crimes
Tribunal (ICT) fair.
Instead Government has rushed to judgment and planning to execute one by one opposition leaders breaching all international norms. This execution, in all likelihood, will derail the democratic process in Bangladesh.
Disclosures from the international news media show that there is overwhelming evidence of serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. The tribunal has become a mockery of international law, and undermines all major international instruments
to protect fundamental human rights principles and basic standards of justice.
Turning a blind eye to the injustices currently happening in Bangladesh is no longer an option. Raise your voice, and demand the restoration of democracy to Bangladesh for its 160 million people.

International community has to take responsibility for what happening in Bangladesh. International community should halt
the consequences of what this event will bring.
Bangladesh government should understand that that their response to this is under the watchful eye of international community particularly International Criminal court as Bangladesh is a state party to the Rome Stature.
The ruling government has tarnished the image of the nation before the world communities. They denied the call and opinion of United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Australia, and Malaysia and different other forums and thus
they are mulling to disconnect the country from rest parts of the world.

All the Bangladeshis and the international community should be vocal against this heinous conspiracy
of judicial murder of this government.
Human Rights and Development for Bangladesh (HRDB) / email: