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Shahriar Kabir

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Prosecution witnesses yesterday started testifying in war crimes cases against Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed in two international crimes tribunals. Misbahur Rahman Chowdhury, once a member of Jamaat's former student wing, gave deposition against Nizami at Tribunal-1, and war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir testified against Mojaheed at Tribunal-2. Defence counsels began cross-examining Misbahur yesterday, while Tribunal-2 set August 30 for cross-examination of Shahriar Kabir.

War crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir has appealed to International Crimes Tribunal-2 to try the Jamaat-e-Islami and its associate forces for crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War alongside its top leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed.

Shahriar, an eminent writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker, said this at Tribunal-2 while giving testimony, as the first prosecution witness, in the war crimes case against Mojaheed yesterday.

Jamaat Secretary General Mojaheed was a top student leader of his party's then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1971.

The Islami Chhatra Sangha is historically known for having formed the Al-Badr force. The Al-Badr was accused of intellectual killings, committing genocide, massacres and other war crimes.

During his two-hour-and-forty-minute testimony, Shahriar said the Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces, three collaborator forces of the Pakistan army, committed genocide and other crimes against humanity in 1971.

The crimes were committed under the directives of the Jamaat high command for political purposes, said Shahriar, executive president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee.

“For this reason, I appeal to the tribunal, besides Mojaheed as a person, trials of his party Jamaat-e-Islami and its associate organisations--Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams--should to be held at the tribunal,” said the prominent war-crimes trial campaigner.

He said at the historic Nuremberg Tribunal in Germany, which was formed for trying Nazi war criminals of World War II, trials of seven Nazi organisations were held alongside 21 individuals.

“These organisations [Jamaat and its associate bodies] are still following the same philosophy, the same politics; for these reasons they had committed crimes in 1971,” added the veteran journalist.

In his statement, Shahriar quoted an Al-Badr member from a book titled “AlBadr” written by Selim Mansur Khalid, a Jamaat-e-Islami researcher from Pakistan.

The Al-Badr member said, “In 1971, Pakistani forces had surrendered their weapons but the Al-Badr members did not surrender their weapons and they [Al-Badr activist] are still active in the politics of Bangladesh.”

Shahriar said, “The Al-Badr members claimed that following the demands of Al-Badr members, secularism was repealed from Bangladesh's constitution after the assassination of Bangabandhu.”

The 62-year-old witness said in 1971, the Jamaat was not only the collaborator of the Pakistan occupation forces but also part of the cabinet of the occupying government.

“Two important members of Malek's cabinet in East Pakistan in 1971 were Jamaat leaders Moulana Abbas Ali Khan and Maulana AKM Yusuf,” said the witness.

“Under the direct instruction and planning and leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami, genocide and crimes against humanity were committed in 1971.”

He said putting aside the pro-liberation researchers, it was clear even from the reports of daily Sangram, the mouthpiece of the Jamaat-e-Islami published in 1971, and the writings of Jamaat leaders and supporters, how the party and its associate bodies were involved in genocide during the war.

“At that time [in 1971], Motiur Rahman Nizami was the chief of Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, the accused in this war crimes case, was the president of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha,” Shahriar said.

“War crimes accused and Jamaat leaders Kamaruzzaman, Mir Quashem Ali and others were leaders of Islami Chhatra Sangha at central and district levels then.”

Claiming that the Al-Badr force was a “semi secret” organisation like Hitler's Gestapo, Shahriar said the Jamaat's historians wrote on the purposes and activities of the party but they did not write about the structure of its leadership.

“But with the writings of Salim Mansur Khalid and information from other sources, we can say without any hesitation that the Jamaat-e-Islami student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha, from top to bottom, turned into Al-Badr in 1971,” Kabir said.

“From daily Sangram and other newspapers of 1971, we can get a clear description of what Nizami and Mojaheed did as the leader of Al-Badr,” he said.

“There are vivid descriptions [of their activities] in a number of my writings and documentaries.”

Giving an example of Mojaheed's activities in Al-Badr, Shahriar said on November 7, 1971, Mojaheed addressed a public rally marking “Badr Day”.

At the rally, Mojaheed administered people's taking oath “to kill the enemies of Islam and Indian agents”.

The Pakistan army and their collaborators used to termed freedom fighters and pro-liberation people as “miscreants, enemies of Islam and Indian agents”, said the witness.

Top Jamaat leaders in several public rallies even said “Pakistan is the home of Allah, to protect Pakistan jihad is to be called for”, said Shahriar.

Their so called Jihad was against freedom fighters and a cross section of the people of Bangladesh who were helping them, he said.

“In the name of saving Islam and Pakistan, the Jamaat leaders legalised genocide and crimes against humanity in 1971, and led the commissioning of the offences in association with the Pakistani occupying force; Result is the genocide,” said Shahriar.

“The most heinous crime of the Al-Badr force was the planned killing of intellectuals during the Liberation War,” said the witness.

“Preparing a list, Al-Badr men killed thousands of intellectuals and professionals from November 15 to December 15 of 1971.”

The names of prominent university teachers, journalists, writers, engineers, lawyers were on the list, said Shahriar.

His teachers Prof Munier Chowdhury, Prof Anwar Pasha, Mofazzal Haidar Chaudhury were on the list.

“Shahidullah Kaiser was a prominent journalist. On December 14, 1971, Al-Badr men abducted him from his home and killed him. Shahidullah Kaiser was my older brother, my cousin. He was not only my older brother but also the guardian of our whole family,” said Shahriar.

Shahriar also said his another of his cousins, the eminent filmmaker Zahir Raihan, was also killed on January 30, 1972 in Mirpur, which was not free even after Victory Day on December 16, 1971.

The three-member tribunal headed by Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, with members Justice Obaidul Hassan and Judge Md Shahinur Islam, fixed August 30 to record the cross-examination of Shahriar.

Defence counsels of Mojaheed yesterday submitted their documents and a list of 1,315 defence witnesses for the accused.

Shahriar also talked about the role of four right wing political parties, the Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP), Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League and Nezam-e-Islam, in forming the Shanti Committee, another collaborator force of the Pakistan army.

“The Jamaat-e-Islami did not have absolute control over the Shanti Committee. So, it formed the Razakar, Al-Badr forces as killing forces,” said the witness.

About the formation of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Shahriar said Maulana Abul-Ala Maududi formed the party in 1941.

He did not believe in democracy; rather he believed in Hitler's Nazism and Mussolini's fascism and followers of Nazism and fascism killed 2 crore people during the World War II.

The philosophy and politics of Maududi was the “ideological stimulation” for the commissioning of genocide in 1971, claimed Shahriar.

It would not be possible for the Pakistani army to commit genocide and war crimes in 1971, if local collaborators had not helped them, said the witness.

He also mentioned the significant political developments between 1947 and March 26, 1971 to explain the context of the beginning of the Liberation War.

At the beginning of the proceedings yesterday, defence counsels asked the tribunal not to allow Shahriar testify as he had met the tribunal judges on August 12.

But the prosecution opposed it and the tribunal asked Shahriar to testify.

After Shahriar's deposition, defence filed a petition in afternoon asking the three judges of the tribunal to refrain from conducting case against Mojaheed as they had a closed-door meeting with Shahriar, said defence counsel Tajul Islam.

The hearing of the petition will be held today, he said.

Muklesur Rahman Badal, the conducting prosecutor of the case, told The Daily Star that Shahriar Kabir with a delegation met the tribunal chairman to tell them about different logistic constraints of the tribunal.

On June 21, Mojaheed was indicted on seven charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, genocide and conspiring to kill intellectuals, during the Liberation War.

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Not only direct colaborators, all closely associated with them should be tried.This is the demand of this moment.

: Sengupta, Canada

We are with Shahriar Kabir.

: Sheikh Din Mohammad

Comments

  • Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal, DU
    Monday, August 27, 2012 01:03 AM GMT+06:00 (439 weeks ago)

    Shahriar Kabir's demand for state trial of Jamaat-e-Islami along with its associate forces, Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams as collaborative forces of the Pakistan Army is likely to imperil the internal security and stability of the country beyond imagination. Of these elements, only a fraction, the over enthusiasts, took part in genocidal activities. Many among them, in fact, stood as protectors and guardians against the ruthlessness and barbarity of the occupying forces. The government decision to nail the universally acclaimed notorious characters is thoughtful and practical. Moreover, our experience of war crime trials in the past couple of years is far from satisfactory. We have only two courts, weak prosecution teams, lack of credible witnesses. It is alarming that so far we have not been able to complete a single trial. How do we then open the Pandora box which may lead to political witch hunting?


 

 

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