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1971 war crimes: Bangladesh tribunal sentences three to death for 1971 war crimes

A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody

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1971 Bangladesh Pakistan War. Image source: defence.pk
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  • A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody
  • The three-member tribunal bench had tried the eight accused on June 19 and kept the verdict pending
  • The accused were said to have committed murder, abduction, torture, confinement and arson between April 22 and December 11, 1971

Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on Monday, July 18, held eight Al-Badr men guilty of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War and sentenced three of them to death.

Five others were sentenced to life in prison.

Ashraf Hossain, Sharif Ahammed and Abdul Bari were awarded death term while SM Yousuf Ali, Shamsul Haque, Abdul Mannan, Harun and Abul Hashem were sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Among the eight convicts, only Ali and Haque are in custody. The others are missing and presumed to be on the run. They were tried and convicted in absentia.

A three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Anwarul Haque delivered the 289-page verdict in the presence of the two convicted in custody, the Daily Star reported.

The prosecution levelled five charges of murder, abduction, torture, arson and loot, and three of these charges have been proven beyond doubt, the court said in its verdict.

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They were said to have committed murder, abduction, torture, confinement and arson between April 22 and December 11, 1971.

The special tribunal directed the Inspector General of Police and the Home Secretary to arrest the fugitives immediately and seek help from Interpol if necessary.

Prosecution lawyer Tureen Afroz said her team was satisfied with the 100 percent conviction, whereas defence lawyer Gazi M H Tamim said they would appeal against the sentences.

The three-member tribunal bench had tried the eight accused on June 19 and kept the verdict pending.

Ashraf is believed to have fled to India while the rest are on the run in Bangladesh, according to the tribunal’s investigation agency.

According to the agency, Jamalpur and Sherpur were the birthplaces of Al-Badr in Bangladesh.

Ashraf Hossain, along with executed war criminal Muhammad Kamaruzzamann and Kamran—all leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami’s then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha—organised Al-Badr in greater Mymensingh.

1971 War, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Image source: herald.dawn.com
1971 War, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Image source: herald.dawn.com

Sharif, Mannan, Bari, Harun and Hashem were also involved in Islami Chhatra Sangha and turned into Al-Badr members, the probe agency said.

Sharif was the Director of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd between 1987 and 2003 and Executive and Managing Director of Bangladesh Publications Ltd,  which owned the Daily Sangram, between 1999 and 2013.

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Shamsul contested the provincial assembly elections in the 1970s as a Jamaat candidate from Jamalpur but was defeated. Yusuf, also with Jamaat’s ticket, tried for membership in the National Assembly and he too was defeated.

However, Yousuf became a National Assembly member through a “so-called” by-election in 1971, the agency said, adding that the duo, Shamsul and Yusuf patronised Al-Badr in Jamalpur.

On October 26, 2015, the tribunal framed five charges and the prosecution presented 25 witnesses, including the investigation officer of the case, along with some documentary evidence. The defence declined to bring forward any witness, the Daily Star added.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Good that they were punished, but I think this was too early to do that!

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak
American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.