Monday, February 18, 2013

Bangladesh 1971 War Crime Charge: Ghulam Azam

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Atrocities in 1971
Ghulam Azam also liable
Says Sultana Kamal at war crimes tribunal
Staff Correspondent
Leading rights activist Sultana Kamal yesterday said Ghulam Azam, chief of the auxiliary forces of the Pakistani occupation army in 1971, was organisationally responsible for the activities of the collaborators.

Prosecution witness Sultana Kamal, who also fought for the independence of Bangladesh, told this to International Crimes Tribunal-1 during her cross-examination in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam.
In her deposition on September 10, she said the collaborators had set fire [to houses], looted and killed many people. They had captured and supplied women to army camps and bunkers.

Yesterday, she said she had no documents on when or where Ghulam Azam had given Al-Badr the permission to kill intellectuals or whether he had approved the killing.
“However, he [Ghulam Azam] being the chief of such organisations (Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams), it was not possible for the activists to commit any activities without his consent. Besides, there is no evidence of him taking any punitive measures against the offenders. Therefore, responsibilities of such activities organisationally fall on him,” said Sultana Kamal.

She further said the Peace Committee, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams could not be held as Jamaat's wings. Nonetheless, Jamaat had played pivotal role in forming the auxiliary forces.
In reply to another question from the defence, she said she did not have clear idea on whether the chief and member secretary of the central Peace Committee were the members of Jamaat.

The witness said she had seen Ghulam Azam leading Peace Committee procession and playing vital role in forming and making plans for the auxiliary forces in the newspapers published during the Liberation War.
Ghulam Azam had called upon to form the Peace Committee during the Liberation War and it was published in the Daily Purbadesh and the Daily Azad on April 5 and April 7 in 1971, she said, adding that these records had been submitted to the investigation agency.

In response to another question, Sultana said several cases on intellectual killings had been filed after the Liberation war, during the tenure of Bangabandhu government, but she did not know if the number of the cases was 50.
Defence counsel Mizanul then asked the witness whether she knew that three cases had been filed for the killing of Shahidullah Kaysar, Dr Alim Chowdhury and Munir Chowdhury.

Sultana replied in the affirmative.
The defence counsel then asked whether Ghulam Azam was made accused in the cases filed for killing intellectuals.

He was not made accused as a planner or for any other involvements in the cases filed for killing intellectuals, replied the witness.
“Each case was filed for killing one intellectual. And my testimony today is not for any individual killing but for the role of Ghulam Azam in mass killing during the Liberation War in 1971,” she said.

She then said two cases had been filed against Ghulam Azam in 1972 for different incidents in 1971.
“Ghulam Azam was accused in those cases for his association,” Sultana said.

She also said she knew that documents regarding killing intellectuals had been found in the house of a former minister of Pakistan. She, however, could not name the minister.
The defence counsel told the witness that Ghulam Azam had not been in Bangladesh [then East Pakistan] between November 22, 1971 and December 16 of that year.

“I know he met Yahya Khan on December 1 which suggests he might not be in the country during the period,” said the witness.
Sultana Kamal's cross-examination will resume today.

Ghulam Azam was present in the court yesterday. He is facing five charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Liberation War.
Testimony of Sayedee's witness

Abul Hossain, the fourth witness for war crimes accused Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee, yesterday told Tribunal-1 that he and the accused had been neighbours in Jessore until mid-April in 1971.
He said he along with his family then had moved to India while Sayedee went to one of his Pir's (spiritual leader) house at Mohiron village under Bagherpara Police Station in Jessore.

The defence witness said he know nothing about Sayedee after that.
Abul said Sayedee had lived at New Town in Jessore until April 3 or 4 in 1971. Afterwards he along with Sayedee and two other neighbours had taken shelter in a house at Dhanghata village in Jessore and stayed there for seven to eight days.

Following the deposition, prosecution Syed Haidar Ali cross-examined the defence witness.
During the cross-examination, the witness said he had previously given testimony in many cases, but this was his first deposition in such case.

The prosecution later made a suggestion that Abul was a professional witness and had come to testify for the accused for money.
“It is not true,” replied Abul.

The case proceedings were adjourned until today.
Sayedee was produced before the tribunal yesterday. The Jamaat leader is facing 20 specific charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1971's Liberation War.

Kamaruzzaman case
The International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday adjourned the case proceeding against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman until September 17, as the prosecution could not produce its witness.

The three-member tribunal headed by its Chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir re-fixed the date after Prosecutor AKM Saiful Islam said they could not produce witnesses due to their illness.
“You have given names of three witnesses [to the defence]. Are all of them ill?” asked Justice Fazle Kabir.

“Two of them are ill and father of another witness is also ill. So they couldn't be produced,” replied Saiful Islam.
Six prosecution witnesses have already given their testimonies in the case against the Jamaat assistant secretary general.

On June 4, the tribunal has indicted Kamaruzzaman in seven charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Liberation War.

Your Right To Know
Monday, May 14, 2012

Anti-Bangladesh before & after '71

Ghulam Azam speaking at a Jamaat programme during Liberation War.

Julfikar Ali Manik and Rizanuzzaman Laskar

Ghulam Azam's crusade to thwart the emergence of Bangladesh had continued even after the nine-month-long blood-spattered Liberation War in 1971, as he tried to revive East Pakistan and spread propaganda against Bangladesh for several years.
Just when Pakistan was on the verge of losing the war, Ghulam Azam went to Pakistan on November 22, 1971. He formed East Pakistan Retrieval Committee in Pakistan and campaigned until 1973 to build public opinion against Bangladesh and its recognition in the Islamic world.

While reading out the charges yesterday, Justice Md Nizamul Huq, chairman of the International Crimes Tribunal-1, gave a brief profile of accused Ghulam Azam.
He said Ghulam Azam went to London in 1973 and set up an office of East Pakistan Retrieval Committee there. He published a weekly, Shonar Bangla, in London, which was used as a propaganda tool against Bangladesh.

Bangladesh government cancelled his citizenship on April 18, 1973.
Ghulam Azam later visited Saudi Arabia in March, 1975. He met King Faisal and told him that Hindus have captured East Pakistan, the holy Quran has been burnt, mosques have been destroyed and converted into temples, and Muslims were killed.

He collected funds from the Middle East for rebuilding mosques and madrasas.
After the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh on August 11, 1978 with a Pakistani passport. He got back his citizenship and rejoined his post as the ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami. He served in the post until Motiur Rahman Nizami was elected ameer.

Ghulam Azam was born on November 7, 1922. He studied in a madrasa first and then obtained master's degree from Dhaka University in 1950. He was a teacher of Rangpur Carmichael College between 1950 and 1955.
He joined Jamaat-e-Islami in 1954 and served as its secretary from 1957 to 1960. He became the ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1969. During the Liberation War, Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Sangha under his leadership opposed the Liberation War.

He played a pivotal role in forming Shanti (peace) Committee, Razakar, Al Badr, Al Shams (collaborator forces). He was an elected member of the national assembly from Tangail in the sham elections of 1971, Justice Nizamul Huq said.
The Daily Star went through historic documents and is able to shed more light on Ghulam Azam's records.

According to records on the Liberation War, Ghulam Azam began playing an active role in helping the Pakistani occupation forces even as the nation joined the armed struggle to free Bangladesh soon after the launch of a massacre by the Pakistani military on the night of March 25, 1971.
He was ameer of the East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami before the Liberation War. As the ameer, he campaigned across Bangladesh and even in Pakistan (then West Pakistan) in an attempt to foil the liberation movement.

"Pakistan is the house of Islam for the world's Muslims. Therefore, Jamaat activists don't justify staying alive if Pakistan disintegrates," said Ghulam Azam in a speech to mobilise his party men and followers against Bangladesh and help the occupation forces. (Source: Jamaat's mouthpiece the daily Sangram, 1971).
Ghulam Azam is one of the front men who actively helped the Pakistani forces' attempts to foil the birth of Bangladesh. He was hyperactive against the Liberation War and became a symbol of war crimes in Bangladesh.

He met Pakistani General Tikka Khan, who was known as the "Butcher of Baluchistan", 10 days after the war started and earned the same title "butcher" as an architect of the genocide launched on the night of March 25, 1971 in Dhaka.
During the nine-month-long bloody war, Ghulam Azam and his party Jamaat-e-Islami, its student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha (later renamed Islami Chhatra Shibir) played a key role along with their other political partners to foil Bangladesh's independence struggle.

According to newspapers, including the daily Sangram, and books and documents on 1971, Jamaat and its student wing played a key role in forming the Peace Committees and some other collaborator forces like Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams.
Throughout the nine-month war, Jamaat, its student wing and the collaborator forces actively helped the Pakistani military in mass killing, rape and atrocities.

The Pakistani forces and their Bangladeshi collaborators committed genocide and war crimes that left three million people dead and around a quarter million women violated, besides the planned elimination of some of the best of Bengali brains on December 14, 1971.
War records show that Jamaat formed Razakar and Al-Badr forces to counter the freedom fighters. Razakar force was established by former secretary general of Jamaat Moulana Abul Kalam Mohammad Yousuf, and Al Badr included the Islami Chhatra Sangha activists.

Anticipating defeat, the occupation forces and their collaborators--mostly leaders of Jamaat and its student front--picked up leading Bengali intellectuals and professionals on December 14 and killed them en masse with a view to intellectually crippling the emerging independent nation.
Though Ghulam Azam was the brain behind Jamaat's anti-liberation efforts, incumbent Jamaat Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami, president of Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971, played a vital role in collaborating with the Pakistani junta in committing genocide.

Nizami, who is also behind bars on charges of war crimes, had said, "Every one of us should assume the role of a Muslim soldier of an Islamic state and through cooperation with the oppressed and by winning their confidence we must kill those who are hatching a conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam." (Daily Sangram quoted Nizami on September 15, 1971)
Ghulam Azam and his party men and anti-liberation elements used to call the freedom fighters "miscreants", "Indian agents", "malaun" (an offensive word used against the Hindus), and "infiltrators".

On April 8, 1971, Ghulam Azam issued a joint statement with other Jamaat leaders. A book containing an account of the killers and collaborators titled “Genocide '71” quotes from that statement: "India is interfering in the internal affairs of East Pakistan. Wherever patriotic Pakistanis see Indian agents or anti-Pakistan elements and infiltrators, they will destroy them."
Genocide '71 also reads: "On June 18, on arriving at Lahore airport, Ghulam Azam spoke to journalists, stating that, in order to further improve the conditions in East Pakistan, he was going to provide some additional advice to the president [General Yahya Khan].

"However, he refused to elaborate any further on what sort of advice he was going to give. Regarding the situation in East Pakistan, he said: 'The miscreants are still engaged in destructive activities. Their main aim is to create terror and turbulence. These miscreants are being directed by Naxalites and left-wing forces.'"
On June 19, before Tikka Khan left for Dhaka, Ghulam Azam met then Pakistan president Yahya Khan. After his meeting with Yahya, he addressed a press conference in Lahore. He told journalists, "The miscreants are still active in East Pakistan. People must be provided with arms to destroy them."

Addressing Jamaat workers prior to the press conference, Ghulam Azam said, "In order to prevent the disintegration of Pakistan, the armed forces had to be deployed." He further noted, "The recent tumult in East Pakistan is 10 times greater than the 1857 Revolution in Bengal." Speaking at a press conference in Peshawar on August 26, he said, "The armed forces have saved us from the treachery of our enemies and from the evil designs of India. The people of East Pakistan are lending full support to the armed forces in destroying miscreants and infiltrators."
On November 23, Yahya Khan declared a state of national emergency.

Ghulam Azam welcomed this announcement. He told the press in Lahore, "The best way to defend ourselves is striking at our enemies." He said in order to restore peace in East Pakistan, each patriotic citizen, each member of the Peace Committees, Razakar, Al-Badr, and Al-Shams must be armed with modern automatic weapons.
At a meeting in Rawalpindi on November 29, he said, "There is no example in the history of a nation at war surviving without retaliation. Aggression is the best form of defence."

On December 3, he in Karachi said, "An East Pakistani should be in charge of the foreign office because it is only an East Pakistani who can cope with the Bangladesh tamasha [the Bangladesh farce]."
Immediately after victory on December 16, 1971, Ghulam Azam and many others like him fled to Pakistan and returned only after the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members in 1975.

After victory the first issues of newspapers of the new nation carried the government's decision to ban five communal parties, including Jamaat-e-Islami, on December 18 with immediate effect. The banned parties were given the green light to resume politics during the regime of late president Ziaur Rahman.
Genocide '71 said soon after Ghulam Azam with a few of his followers went to Saudi Arabia, an advertisement, in the name of a fake organisation, appeared in several Middle Eastern papers. The ad proclaimed, "mosques are being burnt in East Pakistan, Hindus are killing Muslims and destroying their properties." On the plea that Islam had to be saved, the ad appealed for contributions.

It also said Ghulam Azam, in order to collect funds and to continue his campaign against Bangladesh, visited several countries of the region, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Beirut. After completing his tour of these areas, he left for London in April, 1973.
Even though he came to Dhaka on a three-month visa during the rule of president Ziaur Rahman in 1978, he never left Bangladesh. He became Jamaat's undeclared ameer taking over from alleged war criminal late Abbas Ali Khan who was the acting ameer.

In the early 90's, Ghulam Azam was officially declared ameer of Jamaat, while Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam launched a unique mass movement demanding trial of war criminals. She held an unprecedented People's Court as a symbolic trial of Ghulam Azam where thousands of people gathered and the court pronounced a verdict to the effect that offences committed by him during the Liberation War deserve capital punishment.
Ghulam Azam's citizenship issue came into focus when he came to Bangladesh as a Pakistani national.

In 1991, the BNP formed government with support from Jamaat and in 1992 Ghulam Azam filed a case with the High Court to get Bangladeshi citizenship. The government of the day arrested him and put him in jail. However, after Ghulam Azam acquired Bangladeshi citizenship through a court order in 1994, the government released him from prison.
In 1998, BNP and Jamaat formed the four-party alliance and Ghulam Azam appeared at a grand public meeting with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Ghulam Azam left the party's top post in 2000 and was succeeded by Nizami.
Ghulam Azam stayed out of focus since then but he is back into the spotlight after yesterday's court order.

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