Bangladesh enters another period of political uncertainty all in the name of 1971’s independence war and its desperate effort to punish anyone and everyone with or without a legitimate legal process.
It was not that long ago that Abdul Kadir Mullah was hanged and it is anticipated that Kamaruzzaman would be hanged tonight at the hands of a tyrannical regime that has dramatised a farcical trial and kangaroo court to fool the nation. Everyone in the world would agree to punishing anyone who is found guilty of a crime especially war crimes but under an independent judiciary and within a legal process governed by international legal codes. The case of Kamaruzzaman has again proven how the current government of Bangladesh has lost the plot totally and has used these trials to strengthen its grip on power and establish autocratic rule of one party in Bangladesh.
There has been serious procedural and judicial errors in the previous trials of alleged war criminals and Kamarzuzaman’s case is no exception. Here are three simple questions any person with sound mind and judgement should ask this government:
1. Kamaruzzaman is now 62 years old and it’s been 44 years since the independence war. He was 17 or 18 years old during the independence war. He would have been extremely mature or totally duped to have carried out murder of 183 people in his home district in northern Bangladesh. He would have been extraordinarily charismatic leader to have led a group that took part in war crimes. This does not sound plausible but can anyone provide evidence of his real involvement in such heinous crimes?
2. How is it that the police has submitted testimonies of witnesses whose whereabouts have never been truly established and whether or not those witnesses actually made those testimonies has never been put to a judicial test. How is it legally acceptable to submit and court to accept such questionable documents?
3. How will justice ever be served if the legal process is seriously questionable and how will it ever end the cycle of violence from a country whose entire history has been authored in blood? How will wrongful execution of anyone ever draw a line under the painful past of this nation?
I am terribly disturbed by the murderous and belligerent attitude of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh whose only motto has been to avenge the killing of her father and remain in power by hook or by crook. The war crimes tribunal has always been a show trail. She has used the security apparatus and the judiciary to rule the country by fear. She has presided over the arrests and detentions of the oppositions party members and leaders without charges and the few that have been charged have been framed using fictitious accusations. She has ordered the security services to murder ordinary public who oppose her Hitler like rule and her party members have taken to the streets of Bangladesh with weapons including pistols and revolvers to inflict terrorism and openly shoot to kill the opposition.
And as far as the war crime trials are concerned she has personally taken active role in dictating the legal outcome. She has always been the judge, jury and executioner all in one!
The government may execute by hanging a long list of opposition leaders but this will never bring an end to the cycle of violence and counter violence in the bloody politics of Bangladesh. It needs to find an end to politics driven by hatred and an emergence of new political identity that shows politics of maturity and inclusiveness.
Bangladesh needs urgent change and only ordinary Bangladeshis can bring that change.
Bangladeshi-born British Imam, broadcaster and politician