Rights activists slam US report’s claims about Jamaat
Anti war crimes campaigners and rights activists have criticised the latest US human rights report on Bangladesh that advocated for the "freedom of assembly" of Jamaat-e-Islami – which strongly opposed the independence of Bangladesh and with the Pakistan army committed crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.
According to the US State Department report: "Leaders and members of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the largest Muslim political party in the country, could not exercise their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly because of harassment by law enforcement authorities. Jamaat was deregistered as a political party by the government, prohibiting candidates from seeking office under the Jamaat name."
Protesting the US report, noted rights activist Sultana Kamal said "This report concerns Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat) Bangladesh, a political party which has the proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military junta in 1971 in the acts of genocide, abduction, loot, arson, rape and other kinds of violence against women. It is an established fact that its military wings in the name of Al-Badr and Al-Shams were responsible for the killings of intellectuals between December 10 and 14."
"With due respect, I would like to submit that scanning through the media, Pakistani government communications, international reports on Bangladesh genocide of 1971, one cannot miss seeing what was the role of Jamaat during the nine months of massacre of Bangladesh… It was through a process of law that Jamaat was deregistered," she said.
As a freedom fighter, she asked if one can imagine Nazi party being allowed to function in Germany.
Regarding the US report mentioning Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal as "many observers viewed the proceedings as politically motivated," the rights activist who is also a renowned lawyer said: "I have no idea on what basis the report states the war crimes trial in Bangladesh was flawed. Since I have not seen any clear explanation as to why some quarters make such remark about the war crimes trial, I prefer not to comment. However, my experience with the tribunal was that the accused's right to self-defence was fully respected."
Meanwhile, Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee – a group demanding the trial of war criminals and advocating for secularism in Bangladesh – has released a statement regarding the US report.
"Jamaat is still engaged in various forms of evil conspiracy against democracy and sovereignty of the country through their sponsored militant, terrorist organisations," the statement reads.
"Jamaat is an anti-democratic fascist party which does not obey the constitution. That's why the High Court scrapped its registration, not the government," the Nirmul Committee statement adds.
The statement also cautions that the "untrue" claims about Jamaat in the US report could instigate "fundamentalism and terrorism" led by Jamaat.
Signatories to the statement included Justice Shamsul Huda; former Supreme Court justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik; Barrister Shafique Ahmed; Prof Anupam Sen; cultural personality Ramendu Majumdar; noted artists Hashem Khan and Rafiqun Nabi; writer and war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir; historian Prof Muntassir Mamoon; and writer and educationist Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal.