Saturday, August 31, 2013

In protest against continued detention of Adilur Rahman Khan

A generation is passing through queer times in Bangladesh. Values generally deemed sacred are now playthings in the hands of the elite in this small South Asian nation. Human rights, often taken to be among the most basic of universal rights, seem to have taken on a whole new meaning. So has that tenet on which a society is built on, law. Over the past few years, the confluence of these two unnaturally altered phenomena has become visibly painful in this nation of 160 million people. Let us look at recent examples.

Sneak peek into the National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh:

The National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, a supposedly autonomous rights organisation led by the controversial Dr. Mizanur Rahman, has gained recognition due to its status as the officially recognized watchdog in this regard. Sadly, it has been found to be lacking in performance. Despite daily violations of human rights that have ravaged the country, the latest that the organization has been able to mouth is a protest expressing grave concern over placing Oishee Rahman, the teenage daughter of a slain police officer and his wife, and their minor domestic help on remand in connection with their murder. We shall note that the grave concern was shown to express anger at the remand by the government authorities. Assuming that is the status quo, one would have thus expected the organization to stand up for all victims of remand, irrespective of race, gender and status. Sadly, the rights group was found wanting in this regard. One does not need to dig out history regarding this dubious behavioral character trait on being silent on things that matter as it was reflected most recently in its blatant muteness on the arrest of one of its ilk, fellow human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan.

History is witness:

The Hasina administration in Bangladesh has time and again shown its contempt for those opposing its policies and reporting on its mishaps. The strong language of Hasina’s disdain has been complemented by the well documented brutality of the heavy handed oppression of such elements of the society. Victims have ranged from those exposing corruption (Mahmudur Rahman and Mir Quasem Ali) to politicians speaking against the government (Ilias Ali) to critical court witnesses (Sukho Ranjan Bali) to those fighting for labor rights (Labor leader Aminul Islam). The latest of the long series of victims has been Adilur Rahman Khan, prominent human rights defender in light of his position as Secretary of Odhikar, a rights organization that has positioned itself as a strong critic of the policies of the incumbent government.

The minute details of his arrest have been well documented. People of all walks of have spoken out. Editorials and dedicated articles denouncing his arrest have materialized regularly since his arrest. People have come out on the streets demanding his release. Demos and human chains have been held. Yet the government has remained steadfast in its obscure position to harass and silence Mr. Adilur.    

Campaign to free Adilur Rahman at Munshigonj

Campaign to free Adilur Rahman at Chittagong

Flagrant disregard for a defender of human rights:

It was just a few days ago that the national committee for recommending withdrawal of “politically motivated” lawsuits proposed dropping 72 cases, including around 10 murder cases against Bangladesh Chhatra League and Awami League men dating back as far as 1988. The 72 recommended cases also included cases against two ruling party lawmakers — Amanur Rahman Khan of Tangail and Maj Gen (retd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan of Comilla. It is mentionable that even though the committee was formed in February, 2009, to recommend withdrawal of “politically motivated” cases filed between 2001 and 2008, the committee went out of its way yesterday and proposed dropping of at least two murder cases filed in 1988 and 1996 against Chhatra League men.

Now let us look at a sample of the government’s love for someone who has not murdered, raped or looted the public fund. Let us speak of a man whose only crime was to point out the malpractices, wrongdoings and corruption of that very government who dropped 72 cases on the simple allegation that they were politically motivated.

Dipu Moni, the foreign minister, herself called a meeting of foreign diplomats to assert her government’s version of the arrest of human rights activist Adilur Rahman among other things. In a move that could be defined as sleazy propaganda, Moni declared that the foreign diplomats were happy with her explanation. This was despite a silent tirade of complaints from the very same diplomats who the Daily Star observed, were rather unconvinced.

If that looks like a simple matter of childish rant to you, wait till you hear more. On the 29th of August, more than 17 days into detention of Adilur Rahman, the District Commissioner of Dhaka police did not forward to the Kashimpur jailor an affidavit for the jailor to countersign, which would have enabled Adilur's lawyer to represent him in a writ for jail division. Basically, that amounted to not giving Adilur the right to be represented in a court of law.

It would be wise to remember that earlier, Adilur was arrested under Section 54 on 10th August without warrant for allegedly violating some provisions of the ICT Act. His bail petition was rejected but the HC had stayed the remand order wanting him to be interrogated at the jail gate. This is an important article which explores the complexities of the situation as it now stands.

As an editorial of the Daily Star observed, “Section 54 is applied based on suspicion rather than on material grounds. The onus, therefore, is entirely on law enforcers to specify the charges being framed against him. When there is no well-defined and specified charges as yet, and no bail nor division has been granted to him, this amounts to clear curtailment of his freedom and civil liberties. More than a month had elapsed since Odhikar replied to the letter of information ministry on the figure quoted in the rights body’s website, leaving us to wonder what necessitated the belated action against Adilur Rahman.

It is not merely a coincidence that ICT Act has been amended post facto whereby some non-cognizable offences in the original law have been made cognizable and wide powers given to the police to arrest anybody without warrant.

So as the demand stands, we must call on the government to immediately release Adilur Rahman Khan. This trial has not only eroded the image of Bangladesh and the credibility of the judicial system, it has given weight to the general perception that the government has betrayed the trust of the public in the law and reneged on promises of justice and what not.

The law should be the protector of human rights, not the prosecutor. The law must ensure that justice is served, not allow to withdraw murder cases based on vaguely formulated “political considerations” .

Free Adilur Rahman Khan.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On this 115th day, I demand a free Diganta


In the midst of a shut down on its broadcasting services, private television channel Diganta Television completed the fifth year since its commencement into the television media scene in Bangladesh. Diganta Television officially started its journey on the 28th of August 2008 at a ceremony held in present day Bangabandhu International Convention Centre where erstwhile President Iajuddin Ahmed announced its inauguration. Diganta started its journey on that day with “a promise to remain steadfast on the path Truth and Elegance”. Five years have passed since that festive day. Amidst a journey filled with glittering achievements and heartwarming milestones, the television channel remained steadfast on its promise to deliver on the path of Truth and Elegance. Perhaps that is why it was victim to a brutal and unjust campaign of silencing by the government of Bangladesh since the wee hours of the 6th of May, as the team at Diganta Television tried their utmost to bring out to the world details of a state sponsored massacre that was happening right at the heart of Dhaka in Motijheel. Its mentionable that another channel, Islamic TV, was also shut down on that day. The government has been vague on why the two private television channels still continue to be subject to an indefinite shut down.

Deprived of the opportunity to crown five years of glorious accomplishments, the Diganta crew and community announced a two day long series of programmes highlighting the “commencement of 5 years of Diganta amidst black clouds of a broadcast ban”. Inspite of all the uncertainty amidst the temporary broadcast ban, Diganta employees turned up in symbolic black attire and adorned black badges while cutting a cake celebrating the moment in the presence of eminent personalities from all walks of life. This was a statement from an official at Diganta,

Dear Brothers & Sisters,Assalamualikum.
We take the honor to remind you to join with us into the 5th anniversary of Diganta Television tomorrow on August 28, 2013 at Diganta Television, Level:9, Al-Razi Complex,166 Syed Nazrul Islam Sharani, Bijoy Nagar Road, Purana Paltan, Dhaka. The moment of joy comes this year with the gloomy cloud of Shut Down (Temporary). Our path of Truth and Elegance is now closed with unexpected bars when Diganta was in remarkable position among the television viewers in home and abroad . We'll be happy to welcome you from 10am to 5pm. We expect you to encourage us during this special moment. Thanks for your continuous support and encouragement.Regards
Mojibur Rahman Monju
Diganta Television.  
Employees cutting the cake at Diganta premises
Rallies, sit-ins and public processions were held all over the country to mark the moment and ask the authorities to remove the ban on Diganta TV. Eminent personalities and public figures graced these programmes amidst a wide show of support from the general public which was testimony to the popular appeal that Diganta has garnered in such a short time.
Rally at Khulna to ask for the opening of Diganta

War hero Kader Siddiqui at Press Club in Dhaka in solidarity with Diganta sit-in
Shibir delegation among various organisations which showed solidarity at Diganta Television premises
I take this opportunity to add my voice to the fray and ask the relevant authorities and the government of Bangladesh to remove this ban that has set a precedent that no free society must witness. The ban on Diganta TV and Islamic TV (coupled with a ban on popular newspaper Amardesh) by the government of Bangladesh has come to be represented as one of the most repressive acts by any government upon media in Bangladesh.

I ask the government to remove this Digital BAKSAL.

On this 115th day of this authoritarian ban, I demand that the government free the shackles. Free Diganta TV. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shawkat Afsar: Victim of state sponsored Shibir-o-phobia narrative in Bangladesh

With the arrest of Shawkat Afsar, the police seem to have tried to create another ‘Joj Mia’ drama, lamented his maternal uncle and Cox’s Bazaar Zila Awami League Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Engineer Badiul Alam.

Arrested for delivering a letter in which he allegedly threatened to bomb and blow up the Egyptian embassy, Shibir has confirmed that Shawkat  Afsar (18) was neither involved with Shibir, nor a student of Focus coaching center.

Last Wednesday, an investigation revealed that Shawkat Afsar’s maternal uncle was the influential Cox’s Bazaar Zila Awami League Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Engineer Badiul Alam. Nasir Uddin, elder brother of the arrestee, said that Shawkat was not involved in any politics. He informed that Shawkat, after passing his higher secondary examinations (HSC), had left for Dhaka Monday night (19th August) from Cox’s Bazar in order to get admitted into a coaching center. 

Shawkat Afsar
His family further informed that he had begun staying at a mess with some of his friends after leaving for Dhaka on Monday night. So, given his inexperience and lack of knowledge regarding roads and areas in Dhaka, his family was bewildered when they enquired as to how he delivered the alleged letter to the Egyptian embassy within Tuesday. His family said that they had come to know that Shawkat had been suddenly arrested by the Detective Branch of police while he was perusing the coaching center area at Farmgate in Dhaka.

Nasir Uddin, Shawkat’s elder brother said that their father late Sultan Ahmed was member of the Eidgah Union at Cox’s Bazaar multiple times and later was even a panel Chairman. Shawkat is the youngest among 6 brothers. His brothers in descending chronological order are Nurul Kabir, Jashim uddin (Saudi expatriate), Shahab Uddin, Ashek Uddin (Saudi expatriate) and Nasir Uddin (an insurance company employee).

Shawkat completed his SSC in 2011 from Eidgah Adorsho Shikkhaniketon securing A+, while he completed his HSC from Cox’s Bazar City College in 2013, securing A grade. His uncle Engineer Badiul Alam said that he had once come to Dhaka earlier before Eid for information regarding medical coaching centres. The AL leader said that his family would contact with the DB authorities regarding Shawkat’s release. They would seek to clarify that Shawkat was simply a meritorious student who was not involved in any politics. Furthermore, both his parents were deceased and there was no one to look after him.
Badiul Alam claimed that the police were trying to create another ‘Joj Mia’ drama with his meritorious nephew. Moreover, he claimed that the letter which had been sent to the Egyptian embassy was signed with the name of “Shawkat Umman”, whilst his nephew was “Shawkat Afsar” .

On the other hand, police have claimed that the arrested Shawkat was an active member of Shibir and that they had arrested him from the premises of Focus coaching center in Dhaka. However, on visiting the Focus coaching at Farmgate and querying the office secretary Nur-e-Alam Kaisar, it was understood that there had been no police raid at their premises and hence there was no question of Shawkat being arrested there. Nur-e-Alam further said that no one named Shawkat Afsar had enrolled at the centre in the past year.   

Bangladesh Islami Chatra Shibir has confirmed that no member or supporter of the organisation named Shawkat Afsar had been arrested. They have further confirmed that the arrested Shawkat Afsar is not their member or activist.

Shawkat Afsar with Anisul Haque
On Wednesday afternoon, after the arrest of Shawkat Afsar, Joint Commissioner of detective branch of police Monirul Islam in a briefing at the media center claimed that Shawkat had ‘confessed’ to the DB police that he had delivered the letter in which he threatened to blow up the Egyptian embassy. Furthermore he was alleged to have written down his name and mobile number in that letter. Police claimed that they had arrested him on the basis of the given mobile number. However, on being asked to show the letter by journalist, police failed to comply. Monirul further claimed that the handwriting in the letter was similar to the writing of “Shibir activist” Shawkat and that police would carry out ‘further questioning’ to uncover the plot.  

Shawkat Afsar with Muntasir Mamoon and company
Investigation of Shawkat’s facebook page ( revealed that the claim of police that he was a member of Shibir seemed  far-fetched as there was not even a single post regarding Shibir on his page. Police were not even able to ascertain as to which branch of Shibir he belonged to.  Furthermore, Shawkat himself has said that he is not related to Shibir. He has, however, confirmed that he submitted a memorandum to the Egyptian embassy “Saudi o Misor dutabase Kora sarok lipi dilam” However, police have not been able to confirm whether this was the same letter they were referring to. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New terrorist outfit BEM based in house of local Awami League leader !

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) on Friday claimed that banned militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was operating in the country under a new name, BEM. The elite force arrested the three operatives of the BEM from a house at Thanthania in the district town on Thursday afternoon.

While briefing reporters at the press conference, director of legal and media wing of Rab-12 ATM Habibur Rahman said some 21 activists of BEM rented the house of Dulal Hossain at Thanthania Dakkinpara on August 19.

They stockpiled heavy weapons there in a bid to carry out massive subversive activities.

Being tipped off, a team of the elite force conducted a drive around 5pm on Thursday and arrested the three. However, the 18 others BEM activists managed to flee from the scene.

The arrested were identified as Firoz Alam, 36, son of Afzal Hossain of Setabganj village in Buchaganj upazila of Dinajpur district, Barha Sheikh alias Babu, 21, son of Makruf Sheikh of Sonarpara village in Gobindaganj upazila in Gaibandha, and Nahid, 22, son of Mizanur Rahman of Kamalapur Railway Colony area in the capital.

However, RAB informed that they still had to find out what BEM stood for (as an abbreviation) and said they were trying to find out the financers of the banned organisation.

According to mediaoutlet Naya Diganta, RAB further informed that house from where they arrested the 3 youth and where the base of this new organization was situated was owned by Dulal Hossain, General Secretary of 12 no. ward, Bogra City Awami League. Meanwhile, the house from where truckloads of ammunition were discovered at Jogarpara in Kahalu upazila, Bogra, also belonged to Awami League leader Aflakur Rahman Pintu. Apart from that, he is the business partner of a senior local Jubo League leader. Moreover, Dulal’s nephew in law is known to be the P.S. (personal secretary) of that leader. In a previous raid, security forces had uncovered illegal VoIP equipment from the same house but hadn’t been able to arrest the owner, even after repeated attempts. Locals said that he had gone into hiding everytime security forces turned up for a raid. This time, while raiding Dulal’s house on Thursday during the security drive, the crime busters seized an SMG, an LMG, foreign pistols, 80 bullets, magazines and documents of the outfit from the flat.
Despite of the lack of any evidence, some media outlets such as bdnews24 still managed to make baseless claims citing a 'general perception' that almost all or some of the youth were linked with the student front Islami Chatra Shibir. Bangladesh Islami Chatra Shibir has strongly protested such baseless claims. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sayyid Qutb: Brother, you are free behind these gates

Let me share a post that a dear friend posted on social media:

There are so many innocent fellow Muslims imprisoned for their Islamic views and stance globally (e.g Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE).  I wish we could hear what they are thinking. I just came across a poem that Sayyid Qutb wrote when he was in prison. I get emotional listening to it, knowing that a man of such high intellect was allowed to be hanged by the Egyptians. 

أخــي أنت حــرٌ وراء السـدود
أخــي أنت حـــرٌ بتلك القيود
My brother, you are free behind these gates.
My brother, you are free within these chains.
إذا كـنـت بالله مستعـصـــما
فمــــاذا يضيرك كيـد العبيـد
For if upon Allah you do rely,
The intrigues of his slaves can bring no pains.
أخــــي ستبيد جيوش الظـلام
ويشــــرق في الكون فجر جديد
My brother, the armies of darkness will be extinguished.
And a new dawn will shine in the universe.
فــأطلق لروحــك إشراقــها
تـرى الفـجر يرمـقـنا من بعـيد
So then ignite your soul with it’s rays.
See the dawn consume us from afar

أخــــي قد أصابك سهـم ذليل
وغـــدرا رمـاك ذراعٌ كـليـل
My brother, you have been hit by a lowly arrow
And the blunted arm shot treacherously at you
ستُبترُ يــومـا فصـبـر جـميل
ولم يَـدْمَ بعـدُ عريـنُ الأســود
It will be severed one day, So be excellent in patience
And no longer is there the den of the lions
أخـي قد سرت مـن يديـك الدماء
أبت أن تُشـــلّ بقيـد الإمــاء
My brother, blood flowed from your hands
They refused to be paralyzed by the fetters of slave girls
ستـرفعُ قُــربـانهـا للسمــاء
مـخـضـبة بدمـاء الخـلــود
They will raise their sacrifice to the heavens
Stained with the blood of the undying
أخـي هل تُـراك سئـمـت الكفاح
وألقـيت عن كاهـليك الســلاح
My brother, it appears you have given up the fight
and cast off the weapons
فمن للضحـأيـا يواسـي الجـراح
ويرفـع رايـاتها مـن جـديــد
so who will console the wounded victims
and raise up the flag anew.
أخـي هـل سمـعت أنـين التراب
تـدُكّ حَصـاه جيـوشُ الخــراب
My brother, did you hear the moaning of the soil
The armies of destruction tramples its pebbles
تُـمَـزقُ أحشـاءه بالحـــراب
وتصـفـعـهُ وهو صلـب عنيـد
Its entrails are torn by spears
And slap it, and it is solid, stubborn
أخـي إنـني اليـوم صـلب المراس
أدُك صخـور الجبـال الـــرواس
My brother, verily this day I am strong in my resolve
I could dig through the root of the mountains
غـدا سأشـيح بفـأس الخــلاص
رءوس الأفــاعي إلى أن تـبــيد
Tomorrow I will chop with my axe and finish
the heads of the snakes into oblivion
أخـي إن ذرفـت علـىّ الدمـوع
وبللّـت قـبري بهـا في خشــوع
My brother, if you shed a tear for me
and moisten my grave with sincerity
فأوقد لهـم من رفـاتي الشمــوع
وسـيروا بهـا نحـو مجـد تلــيد
then kindle a light from my remains
and tread a path to the glorious revival
أخـي إن نمُـتْ نـلـقَ أحـبابـنا
فــروْضـاتُ ربي أعــدت لـنا
My brother, if we die we will meet our beloved ones
then we will have gardens that our Lord has prepared for us
وأطـيـارُها رفـرفـت حـولـنا
فـطوبى لـنا في ديـار الخـلــود
and the birds will fly around us therein
and we will have eternal dwellings
أخــي إنـني ما سـئمت الكفاح
ولا أنـا أقـيـت عـني السـلاح
My brother, verily I did not tire of the fight
And I did not cast off the weapons
وإن طـوقتـني جيـوشُ الظــلام
فإني عـلى ثـقـة … بالصـبـاح
And if the armies of darkness surround me
then I have confidence in the morn
وإني عـلى ثقـة مـن طـريقــي
إلى الله رب السـنـا والشــروق
And I am confident in my path
To God the Lord of Sublimity and Radiance
فإن عـافـني السَّـوقُ أو عَـقّـنِي
فـإني أمـين لعـهـدي الوثـيـق
If the vulgars loathed me or they are ungrateful to me
Then I am honest to my solid promise
أخــي أخــذوك عـلى إثـرنا
وفـوج على إثر فـجـرٍ جـديـد
My brother, they took you following us
And a new throng follows another throng
فـإن أنـــا مُـتّ فـإني شـهيد
وأنت ستمـضي بـنـصر مجـيـد
Then if I die, I have become a martyr
and you are on your way to a glorious victory
قـد اختـارنا الله ف دعــــوته
وإنا سـنـمـضي عـلى سُـنـته
God has chosen us in His call
And we continue in His tradition
فـمــنا الـذين قــضوا نحبهم
ومـنا الحـفـيـظ عـلى ذِمـتـه
There are those among us who died
And there are those among us who are the protectors of His covenant
أخـي فامـض لا تلتـفـت للوراء
طريقـك قد خـضبته الدمـــاء
My brother, proceed and do not turn back
Your road has been stained by blood
ولا تـلـتـفت هـهنا أو هـنـاك
ولا تـتـطلع لـغـيـر السـمـاء
And do not turn around here or there
And do not look at anything except to the heavens
فـلسـنا بطـير مهـيض الجنـاح
ولن نستـذل .. ولن نسـتـبـاح
We are not birds whose wings are broken
We shall not be humiliated and we shall not be violated
وإنـي لأسمـع صـوت الدمــاء
قـويا ينـادي الكـفـاحَ الكفـاح
And I hear the Voice of Blood
Calling powerfully: fight, fight
سـأثـــأرُ لكـن لـربٍ وديـن
وأمـضي عـلى سـنـتي في يقـين
I will revenge, but my revenge will be for a Lord and a religion
And I will proceed in my manner of certitude
فـإما إلى النـصـر فـوق الأنـام
وإمـا إلى الله في الـخــالـديـن
Either to victory over the world
Or to God among the eternal inhabitants

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reblog: The Chemical Attack & Massacre of Damascus #SyriaBleeds

Aug 21, 2013 - At approximately 3:00am this morning in Damascus, a year to the day after Obama’s infamous “red line” speech warning Assad about using chemical weapons, and as a specialized UN inspection team sleep in their hotels in Damascus, ostensibly there to investigate a CW attack 6 months ago, Assad launched his largest, most wide scale and most deadly attack using chemical weapons on the Damascus suburbs of Zamallaka and Ein Turma in the Eastern Ghouta area. The fallout from the attack was also felt in many of the surrounding districts.
Preliminary reports are that close to 600 people have been killed so far with thousands more injured from the effects of the gas which some are claiming, based on the symptoms seen, to be “weaponized cyanide” 
In two days, you and the rest of the world will forget about this massacre the same way you forgot about the rest that have happened over the last 2+ years in Syria. 
We Syrians however, will never forget. Not the martyrs and not the way the rest of the world sat by and watched this happen to us.
A morbid list of at least 75 videos from today’s attack compiled by @Brown_Moses here
A comprehensive list and description of the attacks by @RSyrianCivilWar here
Some of the dead children from the attack.
More dead children.
And more dead children.
A father holds his dead daughter.
The girl from the photo above and her sister.
Rows of dead children
More of the dead …
A man bemoans the loss of his daughter to chemical weapons. He says “Before she went to sleep and died she told me that it wasn’t her turn to eat that day, it was her siblings turn” as they had very little food to eat.
Dead children in a hospital in Arbeen:
Doctors try to revive this girl as she struggle to breath from the effects of the chemical attack in Douma.
Scores of dead children and adults. Many still not yet dead yet, slowly dying an agonizing death.
Shortly after the attack by Assad’s forces these children are brought to a makeshift hospital. There is nothing people can do for them. They are pouring water from a “7-Up” bottle on their faces. All they can do is wait and watch them die.
In Ein Turma, all they can do is watch this young man convulse on the floor until he dies. He will be taken into the next room when does where you can see more than a dozen men, women and children already dead.
Doctors and volunteers attempt to help some of the dying children. You will not the condition of this makeshift  hospital. Imagine how agonizing it must be for this boy to suffocate to death in a dark, wet, filthy room surrounded by dead people everywhere.
This baby boy is being treated at a hospital. Unfortunately these images where the last of him alive. he later suffocated to death.
A boy lay on the floor of a hospital. He is convulsing and shivering as he slowly dies. There is nothing anyone can do for him.
Doctors try to revive this boy in Arbeen.
Volunteers attempt to tend to these two children. There is not medicine available to treat them and no doctors who understand what to do to save them.
Two little girls struggling to breath, nothing doctors can do other than wait for them to die.
A little girl is brought to a hospital. She’s either dead or dying …
A live broadcast of when the dead and dying were being brought in to the hospitals for treatment.
By morning, residents were preparing the dead for burial … and waiting for the injured to die.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A story of The Ignorant Barrister and Human Rights Watch

Almost all parties with arguments for and against the International Crimes Tribunal which was set to try the war criminals of 1971 are unanimous in agreement that the government did not invest adequate resources in the materialization of the tribunal, whether through allocation of funds or the necessary expertise. Both sides have independently raised concerns that the government, time and again, hurried through the technical aspects of the trials, agreeing upon the fact that this was done intentionally in a bid to dust off any accountability while aggressively trying to capitalize on the political advantages they gained from the emanating rhetoric.

International Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor Tureen Afroz is a well known celebrity. Her fame as an alleged expert on international war crimes and crimes against humanity has fueled her demand on television and other media. However, recent comments by this alleged expert have rendered many dumbfound at the ignorance of her remarks rather than been enlightened by her expertise.

When U.S. based human rights organization Human Rights Watch raised questions exposing the flawed nature of the trials, Tureen, in her initial reactions, responded with harsh criticism, “I am shocked to read the HRW article and the outrageous comments made therein regarding Ghulam Azam Case”. Following this statement, she outlined some queries whereby she sought to question the stance of the HRW regarding the trial of Ghulam Azam. The author, while checking them out at the following link, was shocked at the nature of these questions. (in English)

Her first question was as follows, “First of all who is HRW to comment on our internal judicial process and matters? Is it not itself violation of international law? What did HRW do when the Eichmann or Saddam Hussein Trial were carried out in complete violation of all standards of international law?

Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem - 1961 
The trial and death penalty of the notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was staged in Israel in 1961. It is to be noted that whenever Eichmann is mentioned, that black and white picture of him standing in a Jerusalem court comes flashing into one's mind. Human rights Watch was founded in the U.S. in the year 1978. Anybody even slightly knowledgeable on International Law and War Crimes would have known that Human Rights Watch is a relatively new organization. As to why someone claiming to be so knowledgeable would associate this comparatively nascent organization with the events of that black and white aged Eichmann is surprising if not outrageous. One never knows. If the present government becomes more oppressive against the oppression, Tureen Afroz may justify it by bringing forth accusations of the failure of Human Rights Watch to condemn the bloodbath orchestrated by the British in quelling the Sepoy mutiny movement!

Let us dissect this more. Tureen Afroz further asks, “What did HRW do when Saddam Hossain Trial was carried out in complete violation of all standards of international law? Did they talk about his protection via their so called international law?”

Sadly, this question brings out into the open the parsimonious nature shown by the present government in its handling of the tribunal. Was the government so mired in poverty that it was unable to supply a basic internet connection to a prosecutor of such unfathomably mythical proportions? We say this because we found this within a few seconds of doing a Google search with the words “Saddam Hussein Human Rights Watch”,

" The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven other defendants before the Iraqi High Tribunal for crimes against humanity was marred by so many procedural and substantive flaws that the verdict is unsound, Human Rights Watch said in a 97-page report released today.. “November, 2006.

Human Rights Watch had compiled a 97 page investigative report on the procedural faults evident in the Saddam trial. Simple deductive reasoning should be enough to debunk a facade of a character that Tureen Afroz evidently is. Following this enlightenment, one should not be surprised at more gibberish emanating from around the corner of the above said personality.

Her second question was, "Did HRW ever stand to protect the rights of the victims of mass atrocities committed in 1971 since it claimed to be a human-rights organization? Why [didn’t it]?”

This question again brings into the spotlight the level to which Barrister Turin has been deprived of as a result of being a hapless victim to the digital divide actuated by the Awami League government in Bangladesh. Had she been endowed with slightest amount of common sense coupled with a decent access to the internet, she would have found the following even before putting forward such a presumptuous question:

" The Bangladeshi government's effort to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities during the struggle for independence in 1971 is an important and long overdue step to achieve justice for victims, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Human Rights Watch said that it strongly supports a successful legal and judicial process that is fair and impartial." May 2011

There is apparently another important aspect behind the above question of Tureen. Her attitude highlights the thoughts of a mentally walled up section of the society which tends to believe that international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Transparency International were formed for the single purpose of defaming Bangladesh and Bangladeshi politicians, especially the Awami League government.

Pathetic are these characters who do not have the decent common sense to note that the above organizations employ thousands of employees worldwide and that the reports centering around Bangladesh form a very minor if not insignificant part of their regular reports.

However, it is wise to note that the above situation will change 180 degrees in the event that the reins of power change into the hands of the BNP (currently the opposition). The world will be surprised to find the above mentioned pathetic characters become the biggest fans of international human rights organizations which they so abhor now. One will find them extolling the virtues of each and every line of any report generated then.

The third question of Tureen was even more surprising, where she asked, “More importantly, when the very matter of Ghulam Azam appeal is pending before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, can anyone, let alone HRW, at all comment on the matter?”

Ghulam Azam at the ICT (Courtesy:Reuters)
There is a wonderful custom in Bangladesh. If any uncomfortable question is brought up regarding a controversial judicial case, a load of logic comes up in favour of “one cannot talk about a judicial matter under court supervision” followed by a “Let the judgment be passed and the subject of controversy be hanged. Now you can make your argument.”

It is sad that the proponents arguing in favour of the above appear to be so selective in their criticisms. Which law prevents media of different countries worldwide from reporting and giving opinions on any event of sub judicial character? Such actions of restricting media freedom in opinionating on events of sub judicial character without any reason whatsoever is characteristic of something more sinister. It is indicative of a state and government fast hurtling towards an irreversible path of autocratic rule. Did any court in Bangladesh lament on or bring forward charges of contempt of court for the opinions emanating from various organizations and media on the trials of JMB extremists such as Banglabhai and Shaykh Abdur Rahman? Did the American court threaten to raise charges of contempt for the media storm on the case of Bangladeshi citizen Nafees?

Has Tureen Afroz never witnessed the depth of the analysis put up by Western media in places such as the US and the UK regarding controversial issues of subjudice? These dissecting analyses are not limited to procedural faults but extend to ad-nauseam discussions about what judgments the judges should or should not give. Did Tureen Afroz not even witness the huge controversies, opinions and analyses in the media and on the streets sparked by the great public interest worldwide regarding trials of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milošević?     

There is no doubt as to the image crisis such insensitive remarks will generate in national and international circles. A whole judicial system will have to bear the brunt of the negative image generated due to loose and irresponsible comments of a self styled star barrister as evidenced already by an apparently questioning report by a slightly bewildered Reuters. ( ) 

This is the enlightening report by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch on the flawed trial of Ghulam Azam:

Courtesy: Originally posted on Basherkella "তুরিন আফরোজ হিউম্যান রাইটস ওয়াচ" by শফিকুর রহমান (