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Bangladesh hangs Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman for 1971 war crimes

• Top Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Motiur Rahman Nizami on May 11, 2016 executed for war crimes committed during the country’s 1971 War of Independence against Pakistan on the order of Bangladesh’s war crime tribunal for triggering violence outside the court.

• Three Molotov Cocktails thrown by suspected anti-government activists exploded outside the courthouse in Central Dhaka as Abdus Subhan, a vice president of one of Bangladesh’s largest parties, Jamaat-Islami, was found guilty of murder, genocide and torture.

• The verdict is expected to further inflame tensions in Bangladesh where an alliance of opposition parties, including Jamaat, is trying to topple the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

• At least 87 people have died since early January when the leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called on supporters to blockade roads, railways and waterways to force Hasina to call new polls.

• “The International Crime Tribunal” found him guilty of six out of nine charges and awarded the death sentence. As a leader of Jamaat, he collaborated with Pakistan army and carried out in the name of Islam.

• The Supreme Court’s decision cleared the final legal hurdle for the government to hang the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, and the mercy petition has also been  rejected by the President Abdul Hamid.

International Crime Tribunal (Bangladesh):

• It is a domestic war crime tribunal established in 2009 to investigate and prosecute suspects for the genocide committed in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators, Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams.

• The Tribunal is a domestic judicial mechanism set up under national legislation and it is meant to try internationally recognized crimes and that is why it is known as ‘International Crimes Tribunal’.

• The INTERNATIONAL CRIMES (TRIBUNALS) ACT, 1973 (ACT NO. XIX OF 1973), was enacted by the sovereign parliament of Bangladesh to provide for the detention, prosecution and punishment of persons responsible for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law . 

• The Tribunal constituted under the Act shall have the power to try and punish any individual or group of individuals or organizations, or any member of any armed, defense or auxiliary forces irrespective of his nationality, who commits or has committed, in the territory of Bangladesh, whether before or after commencement of this Act, any crimes mentioned in sub section [2] of section 3 of the Act. Under section 6 of the Act the government may, by notification in the official gazette, set up one or more tribunals each consisting of a Chairman and not less than two and not more than four other Members. 

• Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat-e-Islami leader, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the tribunal.

Human Rights issues:

• Modeled after the Nuremberg trials, the tribunal, which has commenced in 2010, repeatedly faced criticism from the international community about the fairness and the openness of the trials.

• International Human Rights groups say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of crimes of religious hatred terming the tribunal’s procedures being short of international standards. The government of Bangladesh denies the accusations. 

• The US department of state said that while it supported justice being carried out for the 1971 atrocities, it was vital that the trials of those accused are free, fair and transparent and conducted in accordance with international agreements.

• “While we have seen limited progress in some cases, we still believe that further improvements to the … process could ensure these proceedings meet domestic and international obligations,” says Bangladesh. “Until these obligations can be consistently met, we have concerns about proceeding with executions.”


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