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Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman yesterday told the International Crimes Tribunal-2 that he could have evaded trial for war crimes had he joined the Awami League.

Kamaruzzaman, senior assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami, made the remark when the tribunal asked if he pleaded guilty or not.

Ignoring the judges' objection to making any political speech in court, he said, "There were similar allegations against Faizul Huq and Nurul Islam of Jamalpur. But they have not been brought to justice; rather they were made ministers as they joined the Awami League."

AK Faizul Huq, son of Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq, served as state minister for jute and textiles during the 1996-2001 tenure of the Awami League government. He passed away in 2007.

Moulana Nurul Islam was state minister for religious affairs during the tenure of the same AL government. He is no longer involved in politics.

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 yesterday framed charges against Kamaruzzaman for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

The Jamaat leader, however, denied the charges and claimed he was innocent.

He suggested that others, including a brother of State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam, should be brought to book for their involvement in crimes against humanity.

"State Minister Qamrul Islam's brother Hafez Moulana Azizul Islam was a Razakar, and the question of his trial also arises."

Asked whether his brother had links with Razakars, State Minister for Law Qamrul Islam told The Daily Star, “I don't know.”

The Razakar force collaborated with the Pakistan occupation forces that killed 3 million people and raped more than 2 lakh women during the Liberation War in 1971.

Jamaat leader Moulana Yousuf formed the auxiliary force of the Pakistan occupation forces, according to historical records.

Kamaruzzaman said many judges, university teachers and government officials pledged allegiance to the then Pakistan government in 1971.

"Thirty one intellectuals, including Professor Kabir Chowdhury, issued a statement in support of Pakistan [during the Liberation War]. But they were not brought to book," he told the tribunal.

Prof Kabir Chowdhury, who passed away in December last year, made it clear in his autobiography that he had never signed any such statement during the Liberation War.

Prof Chowdhury had campaigned for the trial of the 1971 war criminals since the country's liberation and worked for upholding secularism in Bangladesh.

Kamaruzzaman, who was a college student in 1971, said, "There is no instance in history that a higher secondary student has been tried for crimes against humanity,"

Referring to the trial of Charles Taylor and Augusto Pinochet, he said those who had been tried for such crimes were state leaders.

Kamaruzzaman was born on July 4, 1952 in Mudipara of Sherpur. He was president of the Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha in greater Mymensingh in 1971. He played a key role in forming Al Badr Bahini with some students of Ashek Mahmud College.

Kamaruzzaman yesterday termed the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 a “black law.” He and other accused of 1971 war crimes are now being tried under this act.

He said the Awami League was out to establish fascist rule in the country.

Though the Jamaat leader was supposed to only plead, the court gave him five minutes after he sought time from the court to say a few words. He also mentioned that Tribunal-1 had allowed the accused to make speeches.

At one point of his speech, one of the three judges interrupted him and said it was not a place where the Jamaat leader could give a political speech. The judge told him that he would get the scope to defend himself later.

As Kamaruzzaman continued with his speech, a judge asked police to take him away from the dock.

When police officials approached the dock, Kamaruzzaman loudly told them, "Don't touch me."

Kamaruzzaman's counsels said he could speak for only three minutes as the judges said his time was over and the tribunal was not the place for giving a political speech.

EXCERPT FROM PROF CHOWDHURY'S MEMOIRS
In chapter 4 of his autobiography “Naiba Holo Pare Jawa”, National Professor Kabir Chowdhury clearly says he never signed any statement in favour of the then government of Pakistan in 1971.

“An incident happened at the time. Following an order from the higher authorities, two young Bangalee men, most probably from the radio office, came to my office at the Bangla Academy. They brought a piece of paper and wanted my signature on it. It was a statement.

The statement read: the following well-known poets, litterateurs, professors and intellectuals of East Pakistan of their own accord are informing the people of the world that on the night of March 25, 1971 the government of Pakistan took some measures in order to merely re-establish law and order in the country and save it from anarchy and destruction. This was necessary. Nothing like genocide happened here. The lawlessness in East Pakistan is now under control, peace has been restored and people's safety has been ensured,” Prof Chowdhury wrote in his memoirs.

“I was speechless at seeing the nature of the statement, its language and its shameless falsehood. With as much politeness as possible, I told the boys in a quiet but firm voice that it was impossible for me to sign such a shameless and false statement.

They told me that the consequences of my refusal to sign the statement could be terrible. But I was firm in my decision. Indeed, its consequences could have been terrible. It could have brought imprisonment, torture and even death to me. Even today when I think of the decision I took on that day, I feel very good.”

“Many had signed the statement at the time under pressure. I do not blame them. Begum Sufia Kamal did not sign the statement. Begum Sufia Kamal and I were perhaps the only two people who refused to sign the statement despite immense pressure.

About two months later, an attempt was made again to get my signature on the statement. A Bangalee high-up from the Central Information Ministry from Rawalpindi came to my Gulshan home. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he requested me to sign that statement.”

“Without signing it, I told him 'the statement with signatures of many had already been published in a number of newspapers at home and abroad. What will you do with my signature?' After a long time, I unravelled the mystery behind it. The authorities needed my signature on that statement to cover up their deception.”

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There were two types of rajakars - one who just opposed formation of Bangladesh and supported Pakistan politically and the other one not only did like the first one but also participated in crimes like murder, rape, arson, looting etc. 1973 war crime act targets the second type of rajakars and the general amnesty applied only to those who did not actively participate in crimes. Shere-Bangla's son and Nurul Islam fall under type 1 category and Golam Azam, Nizami, Mujahid, Kamaruzzaman, Kader Molla, Saka Chow, Abdul Alim. Moulana Saidi fall under type 2. Kamaruzzaman as an usual Jamaate Islami leader is trying to deceive again and again by making false statements.

: Afzal Zaki

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman should have been given enough time to make his statement. All this while, we have been hearing only one side of the story. We, the young generation, need to know the whole truth.

: Hasanul Karim

Comments

  • Saber
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:07 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    The tribunal is completely political. Why are the accused not allowed to make political speeches?

  • Nikhil
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:11 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    What Professor Kabir Chowdhury mentions in his memoir should not be treated as facts.

  • Mehdi, Dhaka
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:19 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    It is sad that after giving Muhammad Kamaruzzaman only 5 minutes time, the tribunal stopped him half way through. His right to defend himself should be respected, his right to speak should be maintained.

  • Mahmud
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:21 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    Kamaruzzaman's short speech shows that many other people supported Pakistan in 1971. But most of them have now become freedom fighters. Ha ha....

  • Nirob
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:22 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    The judge should not have stopped him.

  • Khondaker Haque
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 05:58 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    Does anyone really know how many people became shaheed during the War of Liberation? I have seen numbers ranging from 67,000 to 3 million. Prof Rummel of Univ of Hawaii estimates about 1.2 million.

  • Anonymous
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 06:42 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    I think, Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman has said the correct thing.

  • Md Musa
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 09:44 AM GMT+06:00 (334 weeks ago)

    Why most of the Hafez and Moulanas become Rajakars during war time.... If religion cannot bring truth and justice (actually works against), do we need any religion at all?


 

 

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