Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bangladesh begins trial of Islamist for war crimes

SALEEM SAMAD
After 40 years Bangladesh has began trial of war crimes suspects on Monday, mostly Islamist leaders who acted as henchmen of Pakistan army during the bloody war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

The prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman in the first-ever prosecution, placed 88 pages of the statement in International Crimes tribunal against Islamic cleric Delawar Hossain Sayedee.

Sayedee, a Jamaat-e-Islami’s executive council member has been charged on 20 counts for war crimes that he allegedly committed during the war of independence.

On October 3, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sayedee, is one of the seven Islamist Jamaat and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders were detained for war crimes suspects, was charged with 20 counts of crimes.

The suspect recruited a dreaded militia group in the name of saving Islam from the traitors of Pakistan. His armed group were primarily engaged in genocide, murder, rape, arson, abduction and torture of civilians, mostly the minority Hindu community.

He has also been accused for proselytization of Hindu minorities of 100-150 to Muslim.

Sayedee went into hiding after the Pakistan army formally surrendered in December 1971, creating the independence of Bangladesh. He quietly returned to his home in Pirojpur in 1986. In the guise of an Islamic cleric, he began to address religious sermons in public gatherings enjoying impunity.

Bangladesh would be first Sunni Muslim majoritarian nation to have the war crimes suspects on the docks, which is likely to mitigate the longstanding demands of the survivors and family members seeking justice for the three million deaths and another 400,000 sexually abused women by the marauding army and the Islamic militia.

Dhaka University professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah said that the trial would not only mollify the controversial political Islam propagated by Islamist party, but also usher justice sought by the survivors and victims.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com