Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP), established in 1999, is a voluntary, non-profitable, non-political, non-governmental human rights education, research and training organisation dedicated to the empowerment of common people of Bangladesh. ELCOP is embracing communities for democracy, justice and empowerment through action and participation. This organisation was founded by eminent Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman who is a former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. This year the 1st ELCOP Signature Lecture was held in Muzaffar Ahmed Chowdhury Auditorium, Social Science Building, University of Dhaka. The lecture was on a very contemporary topic titled, “Bangladesh Genocide 1971: International Recognition”. The lecture was delivered by the founder of ELCOP, Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman. Honourable Chief Justice of Bangladesh Mr. Syed Mahmud Hussain graced the programme as the chief guest of the occasion. Advocate Zead-Al-Malum, Prosecutor (Admin), International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh was present there as the special guest of the occasion. Eminent Political Economist of the country, Professor Dr. Abul Barkat, Chairman, Department of Japanese Studies, University of Dhaka was present there as the discussant of the lecture. Chair of the programme was Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul, Executive Director, ELCOP. Guests from different sectors of the country and students of different universities attended the lecture.
In his lecture, Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman highlighted that the genocide of 1971 committed by the Pakistani Military Janta in association with local collaborators has not received international recognition due to the lack of sufficient legal research and quality literature. He discussed some important legal literature of both domestic and international jurisdictions to hold the criminals accountable for the crime of genocide. He elaborated the jurisprudential basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction applicable in international criminal law and underlined the necessity of prosecuting the perpetrators responsible for the crime of genocide in any court of any country at any time. Finally, he urged everybody – both the government of Bangladesh and international community – to take necessary steps in this cause. “We hope to see the international community respond to our urge very soon because it is not just a question of law, rather it is a question of international morality”, said Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman.
After the speech of Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, the discussant of the programme Professor Dr. Abul Barkat shared his critical review of the paper. He praised Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman for choosing this issue for discussion and also focused on some statistics of the war crimes committed by the Pakistani Military Janta in 1971.
Advocate Zead-Al-Malum shared his experiences and obstacles in the tribunal while prosecuting the war criminals like Motiur Rahman Nizami, Kamruzzaman and others. He expressed his deep feeling of that time in 1971 where he and Professor Dr. Abul Barkat were the freedom fighters and on what principle and inspiration they followed the path of struggle for the independence.
Finally the Honourable Chief Justice of Bangladesh Mr. Syed Mahmud Hossain gave his speech on the programme. He discussed some phenomenon of Bangladesh judiciary and thanked Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman for bringing up this important issue in front of everyone. He also answered some questions that were raised by Professor Dr. Abul Barkat.
Executive Director of ELCOP Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul thanked guests and all the participants for attending the lecture. He hoped that ELCOP will organise such public lectures in the days to come.
The event was covered by Parag Pasha, a student of Law, University of Dhaka.