A US State Department report defending the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh has angered veteran freedom fighters for backing “a Pakistan-paid war criminal, militant-breeding party, which committed rape and genocide”.
Jamaat-e-Islami, which was an auxiliary force of Pakistan Army in the then East Pakistan, had led in crimes against humanity and atrocities along with Pakistani soldiers, said the veterans who fought the Liberation War back in 1971, expressing their anger and frustration for the unabashed lobbying of US for a party that had been convicted of war crimes with Pakistan forces by a judicial process.
Several top leaders of the Jamaat have been found guilty for murder, rape, and forcible conversions of minorities, and some have been hanged following the long judicial process of the Bangladesh War Crimes Trials.
However, the US State Department report 2022 on human rights situation in Bangladesh pulled up Sheikh Hasina government over “action against Jamaat-e-Islami”.
Veteran Bangladesh war heroes are stunned by the US defence of the Jamaat, whose declared objective of creating a “Pakistan-owned Islamic Republic” has been found to be going against the spirit of the secular democratic policy of Bangladesh.
Former Justice Shamsuddin Ahmed Manik said that the Jamaat has violently agitated on a host of issues and dozens of innocent people have died in their firebombing of passenger buses and trains.
Author Sukharanjan Dasgupta said: “US envoy Peter Haas may lament Washington’s 1971 policy as a ‘mistake’ but this US defence of Jamaat proves the Americans retain the same policy of backing pro-Pakistan forces in Bangladesh. Or else why would those claiming to fight the militants seek to pitch for Jamaat.”
He contended that the Americans always use Islamist radical forces to fight progressive nationalists in Asia.
“That is why they are shedding tears for the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh, the party of the war criminals that opposed its independence, killing millions of innocent people,” he said.
The US State Department report says: “Opposition ‘activists’ faced criminal charges. Leaders and members of Jamaat-e-Islami, a leading Islamist political party in the country, could not exercise their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly, because of harassment by law enforcement.”
Jamaat leader and former minister in the Premier Khaleda Zia’s BNP-led four-party coalition government, Matiur Rahman Nizami was hanged to death on May 11, 2016 after being convicted of war crimes. Convicted of superior responsibility as the chief of the ferocious Al-Badr militia forces in 1971, he was found guilty of systematic killings of over 450 people alone in his own village in Santhia of Pabna and also grabbing the ancestral house of legendary Indian film actress Suchitra Sen. This was retrieved by the Hasina led government on 2014, following a SC order.
However, the US report pulled up the Bangladesh government headed by Awami League for deregistering Jamaat as a political party which prohibits them from seeking office.
“The fundamental constitutional rights of speech and assembly of its leaders and members were denied,” it said.
Talking to IANS, veteran freedom fighter Foyez Ahmed Siddiqui said: “After the independence of Bangladesh, Pakistan-paid Jamaat was active in militancy against the innocent people. It pursued its Pakistani fundamentalist agenda with violent attacks on minorities and unleashed a ruthless tactic to employ radical values to upend the secular policy of Bengali culture until a high court verdict banned the party, bringing some justice for millions of families who fell victim to persecution since 1971.”
With Bangladesh scheduled to go in polls by end of next year, the US report clearly acts as a shot in the arm for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Justice Manik told IANS.
The nexus between BNP and Jamaat dated back to the country’s first military dictator General Ziaur Rahman.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)