Zianagar elects Sayedee’s son rejecting ICT verdict

The voters of Pirojpur’s Zianagar have elected Masood Sayedee as the Chairman of the Upazila on Sunday (23/03/2014). The district returning officer announced the result in the evening.

Masood Sayedee with his father Mawlana Delwar Hossain Sayedee
Masood Sayedee with his father Mawlana Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Masood Sayedee is the third son of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Amir (Vice President) Mawalana Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

The controversial International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) convicted Mawlana Sayedee for “crimes against humanity” on 28th February of 2013 and sentenced him to death following an “unfair” trial.

Sukhranjan Bali - the abducted witness
Sukhranjan Bali – the abducted witness

Sukhranjan Bali, a star defense witness, was kidnapped from the court premises after he tried to testify that Mawlana Sayedee did not kill his brother. He was later found in an Indian prison and Mawlana Sayedee was sentenced to death for killing Sukhranjan Bali’s brother Bisha Bali.

The International Commission of Jurists posted a press release on its website in a reaction to the verdict. Following is an excerpt from the press release:

“According to the ICJ, there are serious procedure flaws at all stages: pre-trial release has been routinely and arbitrarily denied; witnesses have been abducted and intimidated; there have been credible allegations of collusion between the Government, prosecutors and judges.”

The Zianagar Upazila and the surrounding area is where the prosecution and the ICT claim Mawlana Sayedee committed the heinous crimes. And the people of the above mentioned area elected Mawala Sayedee as their MP for two consecutive terms. Now they have elected his son as the Chairman of the Upazila.

I had the opportunity to visit the Upazila a few days ago while the election campaign was in full swing and witnessed first-hand how the people of Zianagar and the adjacent areas see Mawlana Sayedee and his family.

I accompanied Masood Sayedee to a few election meetings during my short stay. The main issue at these meetings was the “unfair” trial of Mawlana Sayedee and the people who gathered at these meetings expressed their desire to vote for Masood Sayedee to tell the ICT and the people of Bangladesh that the people where the crimes were committed “do not accept the verdict and believe Mawlana Sayedee is innocent of the charges.”

Hindu women with Masood Sayedee's election leaflets
Hindu women with Masood Sayedee’s election leaflets

The constituency is also home to a large number of people who belong to the Hindu community – the very people Mawlana Sayedee is convicted of oppressing. Interestingly, most of the Hindu community of Mawlana Sayedee’s constituency vote for him, and now have voted for his son, even though the Bangladeshi Hindu community is generally seen as supporter of Bangladesh Awami League – the arch enemy of Mawlana Sayedee’s party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami!

The election result shows that Masood Sayedee received almost 4 times more votes than the Awami League candidate even though the ruling party resorted to various illegal activities to deny him the victory. These include misinformation,voter intimidation, harassment of the volunteers working for Masood Sayedee’s campaign, seizure of several polling centres by AL candidate’s supporters, attack on Masood Sayedee and a showdown by a ruling party MP of an adjacent constituency with 50 motorcycles while the votes were being cast.

At the endof the day, the emphatic victory of Mawlana Sayedee’s son Masood Sayedee in the first election since the ICT verdict has a simple meaning: the people of Zianagar have passed their own verdict about Mawlana Sayedee and the verdict says the defendant is not guilty.