Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon and Health Minister Mohammad Nasim yesterday demanded in parliament that the government form a commission to find out “who did what” to oppress political leaders following the 1/11 changeover in 2007.
Menon, also president of the Workers Party, said The Daily Star editor's recent comment at a TV talk show revealed how the army-backed caretaker government carried out propaganda against political leaders in 2007.
Speaking on the thanksgiving motion on the president's speech, he demanded the government form a judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to identify “all the players” of 1/11 and “understand” the whole issue.
At a talk show on a private TV channel on February 3, Mahfuz Anam made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing, following the 1/11 changeover, a few reports that the newspaper could not verify independently.
Referring to the Star editor's remark, Menon said Mahfuz Anam's “admission” also revealed how the then army-backed government confused people.
In the previous parliament, AL lawmaker Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir and AL leader Abdul Jalil had demanded trial of those in the 1/11 government who were involved in character assassination of politicians, he noted.
“But the government is yet to take any step in this regard.”
Menon also said a parliamentary standing committee in 2010 identified the masterminds of 1/11 and recommended that the government take legal action against them.
But the government didn't pay any attention to the recommendations made in the probe report of the parliamentary body, he said.
Menon rejected the recent statements of international rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, on the obstruction of freedom of expression following the filing of cases against Mahfuz Anam.
“Of course there is freedom of expression in the country, and it is reflected through newspaper reports and talk shows on TV channels,” he said, adding that if any individual practises self-censorship, it is entirely his own choice.
In his speech, Nasim, also presidium member of the Awami League, urged the government to constitute a commission to know the true history of 1/11 and identify the “villains” involved in arrest and torture of political leaders, including AL President Sheikh Hasina.
Pointing to the Star editor's comment at the TV talk show, he said politicians, businesspeople, MPs and the head of the government have to go to jail if they make mistakes. But they (journalists) just say sorry if they make any mistake.
In an oblique reference to Mahfuz Anam's remark, Nasim said, “You will subject politicians to character assassination and say sorry. Who will give back the 11 months that Sheikh Hasina spent in jail?”
Nasim lambasted those who had organised seminars and other programmes in 2007 to "find competent candidates in elections".
“They actually wanted to kill democracy and banish politicians in the name of finding competent candidates.
“They say they want fair politics, politics of peace. They say they are gentlemen and we [politicians] are enemies of democracy. Actually, they don't have any shame.”
Nasim claimed that the plotters of 1/11 have not stopped hatching conspiracies.
He lambasted the AI and the HRW for issuing statements in support of the Star editor, and asked where were these organisations after the August-21 grenade attack on an AL rally?
The AL presidium member also came down hard on Prof Muhammad Yunus.
“How an economist, who did nothing in establishing peace, got the Nobel prize in peace. It is Sheikh Hasina who established peace in the Chittagong Hill Tracts through the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty.”
Nasim alleged that bestowing of the Nobel peace prize on Prof Yunus was nothing but a conspiracy to create 1/11, and some journalists along with a section of intellectuals were involved in the political changeover.
Taking part in the thanksgiving motion on the president's speech, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu slated the AI, the HRW and other international organisations for speaking in favour of the Star editor.
“Following the criticism of Mahfuz Anam, these organisations said there are no democracy and freedom of media in the country. But criticism of Mahfuz Anam doesn't mean interference in the media.”
These organisations didn't issue any statement after the genocide in 1971 and the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, said Inu.
Journalists have the right to criticise politicians. Similarly, politicians have the right to slate journalists, he said.
A democratic system does not collapse if lawmakers are criticised. In the same way, the media is not ruined if editors and journalists face criticism, he added.
Earlier, AL lawmaker Bahauddin Nasim lambasted Prof Yunus, Mahfuz Anam and former caretaker government adviser Mainul Hosein for their “involvement in creating 1/11” and demanded that they be brought to book.
He alleged that the three were “involved in a conspiracy against the country's independence and sovereignty to give away its oil, gas and sea port”.
“They realised that they will not be able to carry out their conspiracy if Sheikh Hasina remains alive and free.
“People foiled their plot to create a political party and rule the country.”
The process of trying the conspirators has already started and the filing of cases against Mahfuz Anam is the start of that process, he added.