Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bangladesh police defy court order, ransack and loot home of opposition leader Mir Quasem Ali

In an unwarranted and shocking incident, police in Dhaka today, the 4th of June, 2014, raided the house of Mir Quasem Ali, senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader and Chief Executive of Diganta Media Corporation, currently standing trial at the International Crimes tribunal in Dhaka. 

Family and close relatives said that Mirpur thana police and detective branch personnel raided the house located at Kazipara today morning. This was despite an earlier order by a lower court that had rejected the appeal by law agencies for confiscation of family assets of Mir Mohammad Bin Quasem, son of Mir Quasem Ali in light of a case filed against him earlier. Barrister Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem Arman, younger son of Mir Quasem Ali and eminent tribunal lawyer, while describing the incident, said that a battalion of police had come to their house in the morning in a truck and without prior notice and despite a court order to the contrary, started ransacking their home and confiscating family belongings at will, taking with them many valuables in the process. 


When Barrister Arman contacted the judge who had given the judgement rejecting the appeal for confiscation, the judge answered that he had received a call from higher authorities right after delivering his judgement, due to which he was helpless to do anything. The police gave similar replies to the queries of the family members who were forced to quietly watch as their valuables were robbed in front of their eyes. When asked on whose orders they were seizing the family belongings, their reply was, “Instructions from higher command”.  

In the meantime, police had confiscated anything and everything they could lay their hands on, including the bed, TV, fridge, almirah (wardrobe), a baby's wardrobe, plates and jugs among other things. Family members present at the scene reminisced in disbelief the words of a police officer, who on leaving the scene, said that they would be back if they were not satisfied with what they had seized.

Family members expressed their shock and disbelief at the unwarranted actions of the police apparatus in relation with the incident that were directly in violation with a court order passed just a day back by the judiciary, setting a serious precedent to a routine mockery of justice by security forces of the government that has become so commonplace in Bangladesh. 

It is mentionable that Mir Quasem Ali was arrested on June 17, 2012, on charges that allege his involvement with war crimes in 1971. The tribunal is marred by controversies and has been routinely criticized for issues of fairness and lack of transparency by various international rights bodies such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. A domestic tribunal set up by the government in 2009 to try war criminals of 1971, the tribunal recently came under international criticism for its role in leading to the hanging of Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami based on a questionable trial process. Critics of the tribunal have condemned it as a tool for political repression being used by the government to silence its opponents.

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