Friday, October 31, 2014

Law Catches Up With the War Criminal Mir Quasem Ali

Al Badr Commander Mir Quasem Ali whose name became synonymous with genocide, rape, looting and arson in Chittagong during the liberation war in 1971, is an influential central leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), being a member of its 15 member Central Executive Committee. He is the main brain behind JEI’s finances and played a crucial role in financially strengthening the organization after its rehabilitation by the former Bangladesh military ruler General Ziaur Rahman in 1976. 
Earlier, after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, JEI and other militant Islamic organizations which had collaborated with the occupation forces of Pakistan were banned by the founding father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Quasem Ali was arrested last June for his role in perpetrating crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 liberation war
Daily Naya Diganta that enjoys a circulation of around 3.2 million copies a day and Diganta TV which reaches out to 10 million Bangladeshi households globally, started running a sustained campaign against the ongoing war crimes trial in Bangladesh. Both Naya Diganta and Diganta TV form a part of Diganta Media Corporation owned by Mir Quasem Ali. During the liberation war and in the run up to the war Mir Quasem Ali was primarily known as an appendage to the occupying forces of Pakistan. He was arrested from Naya Diganta office within an hour and a half of the Tribunal issuing the order on June 17 last.
Mir Quasem Ali has wide international reach. He enjoys good equations with Saudi Arabia as Country Director of Saudi based and resource rich Rabeta-al-alam-al-Isalmi, the NGO that funds many ventures in Bangladesh. He is also associated with the Saudi funded Ibne Sina Charitable Trust and Hospital that provides free Medicare facilities to the poor across the country.
Openly defying restrictions imposed by the government on foreign visit by the JEI war crimes suspects, Mir Quasem Ali paid a high profile visit to Saudi Arabia in 2010, after formation of the war crimes tribunal, to seek Riyadh’s blessings and put pressure on Sheikh Hasina government to abandon war crimes trial. Saudi Arabia employs the largest number of Bangladeshi manpower and it turned out that during his visit he tried to convince the Saudi authorities to work as a pressure group. He gave a number of suggestions to them including stopping of recruitment of Bangladeshi manpower and termination of appointment of those already working there. He thought that such a situation would create turmoil in the country and compel the Bangladesh government to abandon the war crimes trial.
Mir Quasem Ali is a prominent fund raiser for the JEI and played a key role in strengthening its finances. He manages the party accounts maintained with Islami Bank Bangladesh. He has consolidated his place in the JEI hierarchy by extending funds to the Rohingya radical groups who had fought along with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In 1971, Mir Quasem Ali was President of Chittagong District Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student front of JEI, that converted itself into the infamous Al Badr and carried out the most macabre killings and rape in the history of Bangladesh. On December 14, 1971, just two days before surrender of the occupying Pakistani forces, all leading intellectuals of the country were massacred en - masse by Al Badr in order to intellectually cripple the new nation. Mir Quasem Ali was one of the main architects of this massacre of intellectuals and professionals. Others who were in league with him in this mission included JEI chief Matiur Rahman Nizami and its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, both of whom are now facing trial on war crimes charges after being indicted by the tribunal.
At the beginning of the war Mir Quasem Ali was Al Badar Commander of Chittagong district. But soon, in consideration of his performance in inflicting large scale brutalities and torture on the freedom fighters and their sympathizers, he was elevated and made No 3 central Al Badar leader in the country. Then No 1 and 2 Al Badar leaders were Matiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid respectively.
Mahamaya Bhavan, located on Telegraph Road behind T&T Office, Chittagong, which was originally owned by a Hindu, was forcibly taken over by Mir Quasem Ali and named Dalim Hotel. This Dalim Hotel was converted into Al Badar torture camps where thousands of freedom fighters were forcibly kept huddled together and subjected to brutal torture. Many of them died there due to inhuman torture. Some of them were maimed for life. It was Mir Quasem Ali who called the shots from Dalim Hotel.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, well known freedom fighter and Deputy Editor of ‘The Peoples View’ brought out from Chittagong, was also taken to Dalim Hotel on December 3, 1971 by Mir Quasem Ali’s Al Badar associates and subjected to torture and repression. After being released, Chowdhury disclosed that freedom fighters used to be kept blind folded by the Al Badar before being meted out with severe torture and it was Mir Quasem Ali whose diktats held sway. Another well known freedom fighter and Ganatantri Party Chittagong District President Saifuddin Khan was kept in Dalim Hotel and similarly subjected to extreme torture from November 17 to December 16, 1971. A well known Razakar named Abul Kalam who had tortured Saifuddin at Dalim Hotel is now an established business man and proprietor of a number of business establishments in Chittagong including TK group. He is presently an important JEI leader. Saifuddin also told that Dalim Hotel witnessed killings of thousands of freedom fighters in 1971. After surrender of Pakistani forces on December 16, 1971, Dalim Hotel wore a deserted look as Al Badar and Razakar elements led by Mir Quasem Ali fled from there.

Mir Quasem Ali was the first President of JEI’s new student front Islami Chhatra Shibir when it was formed on February 6, 1977 by disbanding Islami Chhatra Sangha. Subsequently, he became Amir of Dhaka city JEI. Apart from being Director of Islami Bank Bangladesh, a bank floated from Saudi Arabia, he is also Country Director of Saudi based NGO Rabeta-al-Alam-al-Islami and Chairman of Saudi funded Ibne Sina Trust and Hospital that provides Medicare to the poor free of cost across the country.
Auxiliary forces like the Al Badr, Al Shams and Razakar actively engaged with the Pakistan Army to thwart the liberation war in 1971. Crimes against humanity including murder, massacre, rape and loot had taken place in Chittagong under Mir Quasem Ali’s orders and carried out under his watchful eyes during the war. There are also evidence that he ordered the massacre and murders of the intellectuals and freedom fighters at the Razakar camps.
Mir Quasem Ali, who is from Manikganj’s Harirampur, was known as ‘Mintu’ to the people of Chittagong during the war. He was part of the Islami Chhatra Sangha think tank that had prepared the list of the intellectuals to murder them at the fag end of war. The intellectuals were killed on December 14, 1971, only two days before the victory. After independence, Mir Quasem Ali fled to Saudi Arabia and returned only after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family was brutally massacred on Aug 15, 1975.
Recently, Mir Quasem Ali, along with his US based brother Mir Masum Ali, hired a top US lobby firm Cassidy and Associates and spent $310,000 to move the US administration favorably. The effectiveness of Cassidy and Associate’s lobbying could in part be gauged from the fact that the US Ambassador for war crimes at-large Stephen Rapp visited Bangladesh three times in a row in 2011 and gave a number of advises to Bangladesh government on how to ensure a fair trial. Rapp also said that the US administration might provide some assistance to the Bangladesh war crimes tribunal depending on how he and the Congress viewed the fairness of the trial process.
If the ongoing trials of war crimes are held impartially and brought to a logical end, the war crimes mastermind including former JEI chief Ghulam Azam, present JEI chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, its Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, Mir Quasem Ali and the rest of those now facing trial would be convicted and the new generation will also be made aware of the gruesome consequences of the abuse of religion to justify killings and other heinous crimes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Short biography of War Criminal Nizami

Courtesy :Dhaka Tribune

Motiur Rahman Nizami is the current chief of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. He is being held suspect while standing trial for war crimes in 1971 at the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.
A  brief biography of Nizami:
March 31, 1943: Born Monmothpur village of Shathia upazilla in the district of Pabna.
Nizami received primary education in hisown village and then got admitted into Boalmari Madrasa.
1955: Passed Dakhil examination in firstdivision.
1959: He was placed in 16th position of the merit list with first division from Twaha Senior Madrasa of Shibpur, Pabna.
1960: Nizami rose in the ranks of East Pakistan branch of Jamaat-e-islami Pakistan, having led the student organisation,Islamic Chhatro Shango (ICS)(now IslamicChhatro Shibir).
1961: Passed Fazil exam from same institution securing a first division.
1963: Received his Kamil degree in Islamic Jurisprudence/Fiqh from Alia Madrasa of Dhaka.
1967: Completed his graduation.
1978: Was allowed to return to Bangladesh after being banned political participation by first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.1991: Elected Member of the Parliament, representing Jamaat-e-islami constituency of Pabna 1.
2001: Took the helm of Jamaat-e-Islami. 2001-03: Served as Minister of Agriculture.
June 29, 2010: Arrested
December 11, 2011: Charges pressed May 2011: Shown arrested on allegations of smuggling armsto Assamese insurgents in India.
May 28,2011: Indicted in war crimes charges
January 9, 2012: Tribunal took cognisance of charges
November 13, 2013: Trial beings in war crimes case
On January 31: Gets death penalty for the 10-truck arms haul
March 2, 2014: Trial end
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami has been sentenced to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
Justice M Enayetur Rahim, chairman of the three-member International Crimes Tribunal 1, delivered the much-delayed verdict at 12:20pm on Wednesday.
Other members of the tribunal are Justice Jahangir Hossain and Justice Anwarul Haque.
Eight charges out of total 16, which include conspiracy, planning, complicity, incitement and active participation were proved, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 pronounced.
The tribunal 1 has handed down war criminal Nizami death penalty on the charges of 2, 4, 6 and 16 while the Jamaat leader has been given life sentence on the charges of 1, 3, 7 and 8.
Earlier in the day, Nizami was taken to the tribunal around 9:25am and later he was kept in the tribunal lock-up.
At 11:10am, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, started reading out the summary of 204-page verdict.
This is the 10th verdict by the two war crimes tribunals.
On Tuesday, the International Crimes Tribunal 1 fixed the date to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday.
Nizami had been shifted to Dhaka Central Jail from Kashimpur around 8:30pm on Tuesday and his physical condition was well, Jail Superintendent Forman Ali told the Dhaka Tribune.
Earlier, the verdict in the case against the Jamaat top leader was postponed twice. In the latest on June 24, the verdict was postponed due to Nizami's sickness.
Tight security measures have been taken in and around tribunal area as well as in the capital after announcement of the date.
An adequate number of uniformed and plainclothes police personnel have been kept deployed elsewhere in the capital to avert any untoward incident centring the verdict.
The trial against Nizami began on May 28, 2012.
He was arrested on July 29, 2010 on charges of hurting religious sentiments. After three days, he was shown arrested in a war crimes case.
On December 11, 2012, the prosecution brought 16 charges of crimes against humanity including conspiracy, planning, complicity, incitement and active participation against the Jamaat leader.
The charges against him included killing of 70 people and torching 72 houses in December 1971 at Brishalika village in Pabna’s Bera upazila; murdering 450 people in Demra and Baushia villages; killing of several people in front of a Hindu temple at Kormocha village of Santhia upazila as well as looting, rape and abduction.
As the head of East-Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha, then student wing of Jamaat, he led al-Badr group – a para militia force blamed for the systematic abduction and killing of intellectuals – until September, 1971.
Witness deposition in Nizmai’s case began in August, 2012 and ended in October last year with the testimony of Investigating Officer Abdur Razzak Khan, the 26th prosecution witness.
The defence produced four witnesses including son of the accused Md Nazibur Rahman.
Trial of the case ended in last November and the tribunal kept it for verdict.
But due to the retirement of the then tribunal chairman on December 31 before delivering the judgement, it was delayed by several more months.
In February, Justice Rahim was appointed and the two tribunals shuffled. The judge ordered fresh arguments in the case.
On March 24, the tribunal kept the case pending for verdict again and later fixed June 24 for delivering the judgement.
But only hours before the verdict, the jail authorities claimed that they could not place the accused as he had fallen sick.
The tribunal stopped pronouncing the verdict and ordered the authorities concerned to inform it about the physical condition of Nizami.
Even though the jail authorities within one week confirmed that Nizami’s physical condition was stable, it took the tribunal several months to set the latest date.
On January 30, Chittagong Metropolitan Special Tribunal gave death penalty to 14 convicts, including Nizami, under the Special Powers Act 1974 in a smuggling case.
Jamaat chief Nizami became member of the cabinet of the BNP-led alliance’s role in 2001-06.
Meanwhile, the war crimes tribunals have already given punishment to five top Jamaat leaders.
Moreover, three other top leaders are being tried in the tribunals.
War convict Nizami was born on March 31, 1943, at Monmothpur village of Shanthia upazila in the district of Pabna.