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Recent events in Bangladesh in brief (The Economist, March 01, 2013): “THE immediate effect of the latest verdict from the “International Crimes Tribunal” was the worst single day of political violence in the history of modern Bangladesh. Actually a domestic court, the tribunal is tasked with trying the men who stand accused of committing atrocities during the 1971 war that gave birth to Bangladesh as a nation independent from Pakistan.”       

It is no wonder these political events in Bangladesh caused grave consternation in many peace-loving individuals. In a critical time like this plethora of misinformation causes any rational mind to be confused. In this brochure we, the Bangladeshi immigrants and Bangladesh-origin Americans, present to our Bay Area friends the genesis of these events that may help them separate fact from myth.

Please visit this link: https://desh71.wordpress.com, for more detailed information and references.

I. BANGLADESH & RELIGIOUS HARMONY

Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh, the fourth largest Muslim population in the world. The Muslim population is approximately 148.6 million, constituting 90.4% of the population (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country). Islam was first introduced in Bangladesh in the 10th century.

Constitution: Although the Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion but provides for the right to practice by stressing nationalism, democracy, socialism, and economic & social justice. The Constitution says: “We, the people of Bangladesh, having proclaimed our Independence on the 26th day of March, 1971 and through a historic war for national independence, established the independent, sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the war for national independence, shall be fundamental principles of the Constitution.” (http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf)

Tongi Ijtema: A great example of how Islamic practices are patronized by the government is Tongi Ijtema, which is the is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/world/millions-flock-to-muslim-gathering-in-bangladesh/story-fnddckzi-1226553148508). The event focuses on prayers and supplication and does not allow political discussion. The local police estimated the number of attendees of 2007 Ijtema to be 3 million while in 2010 the number of attendees was 5 million. It became so popular that current Bangladesh Government helped the organizers to host the event in two phases in 2013.

 

ijtema0        Bangladeshi Muslims gather for last day

Largest Eid Jamaat: Sholakia, a small town in Bangladesh, is famous for its Eidgah where the largest congregation of Eid prayer in Bangladesh is held on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, the day of celebration after the Ramadan. Nearly 400,000 people join the prayer on every Eid. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholakia)

Religious Harmony: A survey in late 2003 confirmed that religion is the first choice by a citizen for self-identification [Ref: “Bangladesh Religious Freedom 2007,” http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2005/51616.htm, US Department of State, Retrieved March 01, 2013]. Thus far no government has ever interfered with people’s religious preferences, and Bangladesh remains to be one of most harmonious countries in the world. (Additional source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Bangladesh). Governments do not interfere with people’s religious preferences. Major religious festivals and holy days of the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian faiths are celebrated as national holidays. The Government provides some monetary support for the development of mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and churches.

amra_shobai_bangali

II. 1971 ATROCITIES AND WAR CRIMES

Operation Searchlight by Pakistani Army, March 25, 1971: In the general election of 1970 the Awami League won a landslide majority in the parliament. Yet this democratically elected government was not recognized by the military rulers of West Pakistan. Instead, on the night of March 25, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to crush Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. Additionally, 10million people were forced to leave the country and take refuge in India. [Ref: http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/?page_id=14, http://www.kean.edu/~bgsg/Conference09/Papers_and_Presentations/Anis%20Ahmed_Paper_OperationSearchlight.pdf%5D. Pictures below, attached as samples, do not nearly describe the extent of Pakistani brutality.

71_02 71_01 71_03 71_04

Pictures: http://www.muktadhara.net/page35.html

Rape & Torture of Women: Some 200,000 women were also raped, many of them in mass rapes and some while they were imprisoned in what have been called ‘rape camps’ (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/bangladeshs-40-year-quest-for-justice.html). The Pakistan Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dhaka Cantonment (“Even the Sky Weeps, Time, October 25, 1971, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877316,00.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_Bangladesh_atrocities#Violence_against_women; and http://www.drishtipat.org/1971/war-susan.html). A Youtube video on rape of innocent women/girls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwwPbkyZVJo) provide a snapshot of such atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army. Such brutality remains fresh in the memory of Bangladesh even today (Forbes, May 21, 2012; 1971 Rapes: Bangladesh Cannot Hide History; http://www.forbes.com/sites/worldviews/2012/05/21/1971-rapes-bangladesh-cannot-hide-history/). Recently Imran Khan, the former cricket captain of Pakistan, agreed that Pakistan should apologize to Bangladesh for the war crime committed in 1971;
(http://www.facenfacts.com/NewsDetails/6907/pak-should-apologise-to-bdesh-for-1971.htm)

http://sindhudeshliberationmovement.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/bengali-women-in-1971-bangladesh-war-of-independence/

71w_01 71w_03 71w_04 71w_02

III. ISLAM’S VIEW ON GENOCIDE, RAPE, MURDER OF CIVILIANS DURING WAR

According to Sura Al-Maeda of Holy Quran: “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or/and to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind,..” (Al-Maeda, Ch. #5, V. #32). Additionally, Islamic rules relating to humanitarian rights can be found in both the primary and secondary sources of Islamic law, namely the Quran, sayings and traditions of the prophet, consensus among jurists and analogy. In short, the following provisions are regarded as basic norms in Islam:

• It is strictly forbidden to kill anyone who cannot fight, or is not trained in the use of weapons including women, children, farmers, the handicapped, the elderly, the chronically ill, hermaphrodites, monks and other religious leaders.
• Islam permits taking of captives in the battlefield2 and supports respecting the dignity and integrity of the human person from the moment of captivity until their final release.
• It is not permitted to torture or mutilate male prisoners.
• It is illegal to inflict degrading or inhuman treatment on enemy captives.
• It is not permissible to kill the enemy’s envoy.
• It is forbidden to burn crops and bee hives, uproot trees and plants, and kill animals that the enemy does not use for fighting purposes.
• It is forbidden to launch major assaults, bellicosity, and usage of fire if the Muslims have reason to believe that victory is within reach.
• It is forbidden to attack civilian targets of the enemy. (See our blog page for references)

It still befuddles a sane mind how Pakistani army junta, in collaboration with Jamaat-e Islami party, could be so oblivious to these golden rules of our beautiful religion.

IV. COLLABORATOR OF PAKISTANI ARMY: JAMAAT-E ISLAMI PARTY DURING 1971

Some people say that speaking out against Jamaat or Shibir (its student wing) amounts to threatening the existence of Islam in Bangladesh. Or protesting against any act of Jamaat illustrates the repression of Islam in Bangladesh. The truth cannot be any far from this. On the contrary, during its entire existence, Jammat – in particular through the acts of its student wing party, Shibir – proved to be radical and militant party which time after time used Islam as a shield for political gains. A few examples show how they have abused our beautiful religion to assert political gains.

Genesis of Jamaat: In 1941, Abul A’la Maududi founded Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) in British India as a religious political movement to promote Islamic values and practices. Interestingly, the JI was against the creation of Pakistan, arguing that the leaders of the Muslim League did not have an Islamic outlook and that Muslims of the subcontinent would be left divided and vulnerable. However, once JI realized that the partition was inevitable, it was redefined in 1947 to support an Islamic state in Pakistan. As a result, at the inception of Pakistan its religious character and reformulation remains shrouded in controversy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abul_Ala_Maududi).

Jamaat’s activities during 1971: The collaborators of Pakistani Army were predominantly the members of Jamaat. Militias affiliated with the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami collaborated with the Pakistani military. They informed on, hunted out, and participated in the rape, killing and torture of ordinary citizens. They targeted hundreds of intellectuals, who were killed in cold blood (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/bangladeshs-40-year-quest-for-justice.html). Its activists, in large numbers, allegedly joined irregular military units and fought alongside the Pakistani army. Consequently, its members are believed to be responsible for some of the most horrendous atrocities committed during the nine-month war which killed 3 million people. (http://tribune.com.pk/story/513683/analysis-calls-grow-for-banning-jamaat-e-islami-in-bd/).

Siddiq Salik, who was serving the Pakistan army as a major in Bangladesh in 1971, in his book ‘Witness to Surrender’ recounts the anti-liberation role of Jamaat, Muslim League and Nizam-i-Islam. He observed that Jamaat leaders collaborated with them [Pakistan army] not only to advance their ideals of Pakistan as an Islamic state, but also to wreak vengeance on people they were at enmity with, proving clearly that Jamaat’s activities during 1971 had nothing to do with Islam because the military rulers of Pakistan, under no circumstance, showed any resolve to follow Islamic code to run the country. (“Pak major’s account reveals Jamaat role;” http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=9188).

For the sake of brevity, here we will use the name of just one Jamaat leader, as an example, who in 1971 participated in crimes against humanity – involved with the rape of a minor girl and killing of 344 unarmed people. Mollah AKA the ‘Butcher of Mirpur’ for the atrocities he is said to have committed as a senior leader of the Razakar Force during the war (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2013/02/20132161077954941.html).

This party has short of been called a terrorist network and the US State Department has been closely monitoring their activities for a decade now. (“U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History;” http://www.levin.senate.gov/newsroom/speeches/speech/levin-opening-statement-us-vulnerabilitiesto-money-laundering-drugs-and-terrorist-financing-hsbc-case-history). Jammat’s student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, is extremely militant and has been linked to numerous acts of violence over the years. In addition, the group has also been linked to a number of larger terrorist organizations both in Bangladesh, and internationally.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Jamaat-e-Islami#Pakistan_Period_.281948_-_1971.29)

V. RECENT MOVEMENT AT SHAHBAG SQUARE

On February 5th this year the International Criminal Court (ICT) of Bangladesh sentenced Quader Molla, a top Jamaat leader, to life imprisonment which seemed to have helped him escape execution. After the verdict was announced in court – he flashed a victory sign! Considering this verdict too lenient for a war criminal like Quader Molla, who was responsible for slaughtering a poet, raping an 11-year old girl, and killing 344 people in 1971 – a spontaneous movement erupted, never seen before in the history of Bangladesh. Shahbag Square became the epicenter of an apolitical, grassroots movement led by students and Internet activists. (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2013/02/2013219102023977820.html and http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201302190008-0022555). People from all walks of life, from all corner of the country joined them in many ways. Some spent time with them expressing solidarity by joining voice with them, some brought food and water for them. Even a pan-handler who on Feb 10 had collected Tk.345 from his day-long begging, spent his money to buy flattened rice and molasses for the demonstrators.

In addition to many religious people, the Imam of the largest Eid congregation in Bangladesh, Imam of Sholakia, came to Shahbag and expressed his solidarity with this spontaneous movement (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RroYl3Z0oD8, http://www.daily-sun.com/details_yes_12-02-2013_Imams%E2%80%99-solidarity-withprotesters_407_1_1_1_8.html )

VI. THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL

In 2009, the Government led by the Awami League, the same political party that was instrumental in helping Bangladesh to its independence announced its plan to hold a war crimes Tribunal for the 1971 criminals under the International War Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. (Afrin, Zakia, “The International War Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973 Of Bangladesh;” Chapter 13, Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy, 2009, copy available at http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/pubs/183). Despite certain valid criticisms of the ICT, there was no doubt Bangladesh needed to move toward an important milestone in its history by trying the war criminals. This would help the country put a closure to its wounds which if not taken care of will always come back to haunt all the victims’ families as well as any God-fearing honest and patriotic individual.

National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh (NHRC-BD) published a set of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers in order to address better understanding of the Tribunal. It can be found here.

VII. JAMAAT’S RESPONSE TO THE WAR CRIME TRIAL

Following the verdicts of ICT, several hundred armed Jamaat activists attacked police as they tried to intercept its processions heading to Shahbag Square, where unarmed and non-violent demonstrations had been underway since February 5th. Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger and one of the organizers of the movement, was brutally murdered by allegedly Islami Chhatra Shibir’s volunteers for his role and support in speaking out against the War Criminals and Razakars. Recently one of Shibir’s members admitted that they orchestrated the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar, said detectives on Saturday (March 02, 2013). Five students of a private university confessed to their involvement in the killing. (http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/latest_news.php?nid=45126. As of now (March 03, 2013) Jamaat and Shibir’s protest seemed to have turned into bloody riots causing numerous death of innocent civilians, police, as well as their own people, and destruction of several temples around the country (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2013/02/2013222103554838445.html and
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/us-bangladesh-tribunal-idUSBRE91R0AN20130228).

jamaatriot (source: The Daily Star)

VIII. CONCLUSION

Bangladesh, with 90% Muslim population, has always taken pride in their Islamic identity. The present government is not perfect; rather we can call it corrupt and nondemocratic, to a great extent (a problem, typical of most of countries in the world). But we can’t brand the government to be unislamic or anti-Islam. No conscientious person would find any validity to such claim. Anyone who spread such lies must have a hidden agenda. Whatever that agenda is, it is against humanity. Considering its past and present militant activities, Jamaat-e Islam Party and Islam can never be synonymous. The atrocities they committed in 1971 had nothing to do with Islam. Their acts (killing and raping of innocent people) were completely unislamic and inhuman. If we are good Muslims, we must stand up to protest anything that labels Bangladesh as anti-Islamic or repressive to Islam and prevent any party from using our beautiful religion as a shield to make mundane political gains.

RECENT POLITICAL EVENTS IN BANGLADESH: FACT VS. MYTH

Recent events in Bangladesh in brief (The Economist, March 01, 2013): “THE immediate effect of the latest verdict from the “International Crimes Tribunal” was the worst single day of political violence in the history of modern Bangladesh. Actually a domestic court, the tribunal is tasked with trying the men who stand accused of committing atrocities during the 1971 war that gave birth to Bangladesh as a nation independent from Pakistan.”

It is no wonder these political events in Bangladesh caused grave consternation in many peace-loving individuals. In a critical time like this plethora of misinformation causes any rational mind to be confused. In this brochure we, the Bangladeshi immigrants and Bangladesh-origin Americans, present to our Bay Area friends the genesis of these events that may help them separate fact from myth.

Please visit this link: https://desh71.wordpress.com, for more detailed information and references.

 

I. BANGLADESH & ISLAM

Islam is the largest religion of Bangladesh, the fourth largest Muslim population in the world. The Muslim population is approximately 148.6 million, constituting 90.4% of the population (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country). Islam was first introduced in Bangladesh in the 10th century. A survey in late 2003 confirmed that religion is the first choice by a citizen for self-identification [Ref: “Bangladesh Religious Freedom 2007,” http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2005/51616.htm, US Department of State, Retrieved March 01, 2013]. Thus far no government has ever interfered with people’s religious preferences, and Bangladesh remains to be one of most harmonious countries in the world. (Additional source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Bangladesh)

Constitution: Adopted on 4th November 1972, Bangladesh Constitution emphasizes Islam right away in its Preamble: “We, the people of Bangladesh, having proclaimed our Independence on the 26th day of March, 1971 and through a historic war for national independence, established the independent, sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the war for national independence, shall be fundamental principles of the Constitution.” (http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/bangladesh-constitution.pdf)

A great example of how highly Islamic principles are not only valued by its Muslims  but also patronized by the government is Tongi Ijtema, which is the is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/world/millions-flock-to-muslim-gathering-in-bangladesh/story-fnddckzi-1226553148508). The event focuses on prayers and supplication and does not allow political discussion. The local police estimated the number of attendees of 2007 Ijtema to be 3 million while in 2010 the number of attendees was 5 million. It became so popular that current Bangladesh Government helped the organizers to host the event in two phases in 2013.

Largest Eid Jamaat: Sholakia, a small town in Bangladesh, is famous for its Eidgah where the largest congregation of Eid prayer in Bangladesh is held on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, the day of celebration after the Ramadan. Nearly 400,000 people join the prayer on every Eid. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholakia

II. 1971 ATROCITIES AND WAR CRIMES

Operation Searchlight by Pakistani Army, March 25, 1971: In the general election of 1970 the Awami League won a landslide majority in the parliament. Yet this democratically elected government was not recognized by the military rulers of West Pakistan. Instead, on the night of March 25, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to crush Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. Additionally, 10million people were forced to leave the country and take refuge in India. [Ref: http://www.genocidebangladesh.org/?page_id=14, http://www.kean.edu/~bgsg/Conference09/Papers_and_Presentations/Anis%20Ahmed_Paper_OperationSearchlight.pdf]. Pictures below, attached as samples, do not nearly describe the extent of Pakistani brutality.

http://www.muktadhara.net/page35.html

Some 200,000 women were also raped, many of them in mass rapes and some while they were imprisoned in what have been called ‘rape camps’ (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/bangladeshs-40-year-quest-for-justice.html). The Pakistan Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dhaka Cantonment (“Even the Sky Weeps, Time, October 25, 1971, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877316,00.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1971_Bangladesh_atrocities#Violence_against_women; and http://www.drishtipat.org/1971/war-susan.html). A Youtube video on rape of innocent women/girls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwwPbkyZVJo) provide a snapshot of such atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army. Such brutality remains fresh in the memory of Bangladesh even today (Forbes, May 21, 2012; 1971 Rapes: Bangladesh Cannot Hide History; http://www.forbes.com/sites/worldviews/2012/05/21/1971-rapes-bangladesh-cannot-hide-history/). Recently Imran Khan, the former cricket captain of Pakistan, agreed that Pakistan should apologize to Bangladesh for the war crime committed in 1971; (http://www.facenfacts.com/NewsDetails/6907/pak-should-apologise-to-bdesh-for-1971.htm)

 

http://sindhudeshliberationmovement.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/bengali-women-in-1971-bangladesh-war-of-independence/

 

III. ISLAM’S VIEW ON GENOCIDE, RAPE, MURDER OF CIVILIANS DURING WAR

According to Sura Al-Maeda of Holy Quran: “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or/and to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind,..” (Al-Maeda, Ch. #5, V. #32). Additionally, Islamic rules relating to humanitarian rights can be found in both the primary and secondary sources of Islamic law, namely the Quran, sayings and traditions of the prophet, consensus among jurists and analogy. In short, the following provisions are regarded as basic norms in Islam:

  • It is strictly forbidden to kill anyone who cannot fight, or is not trained in the use of weapons including women, children, farmers, the handicapped, the elderly, the chronically ill, hermaphrodites, monks and other religious leaders.
  • Islam permits taking of captives in the battlefield2 and supports respecting the dignity and integrity of the human person from the moment of captivity until their final release.
  • It is not permitted to torture or mutilate male prisoners.
  • It is illegal to inflict degrading or inhuman treatment on enemy captives.
  • It is not permissible to kill the enemy’s envoy.
  • It is forbidden to burn crops and bee hives, uproot trees and plants, and kill animals that the enemy does not use for fighting purposes.
  • It is forbidden to launch major assaults, bellicosity, and usage of fire if the Muslims have reason to believe that victory is within reach.
  • It is forbidden to attack civilian targets of the enemy. (See our blog page for references)

It still befuddles a sane mind how Pakistani army junta, in collaboration with Jamaat-e Islami party, could be so oblivious to these golden rules of our beautiful religion.

 

IV. COLLABORATOR OF PAKISTANI ARMY: JAMAAT-E ISLAMI PARTY DURING 1971

Some people say that speaking out against Jamaat or Shibir (its student wing) amounts to threatening the existence of Islam in Bangladesh. Or protesting against any act of Jamaat illustrates the repression of Islam in Bangladesh. The truth cannot be any far from this. On the contrary, during its entire existence, Jammat – in particular through the acts of its student wing party, Shibir – proved to be radical and militant party which time after time used Islam as a shield for political gains. A few examples show how they have abused our beautiful religion to assert political gains.

Genesis of Jamaat: In 1941, Abul A’la Maududi founded Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) in British India as a religious political movement to promote Islamic values and practices. Interestingly, the JI was against the creation of Pakistan, arguing that the leaders of the Muslim League did not have an Islamic outlook and that Muslims of the subcontinent would be left divided and vulnerable. However, once JI realized that the partition was inevitable, it was redefined in 1947 to support an Islamic state in Pakistan. As a result, at the inception of Pakistan its religious character and reformulation remains shrouded in controversy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abul_Ala_Maududi).

Jamaat’s activities during 1971: The collaborators of Pakistani Army were predominantly the members of Jamaat. Militias affiliated with the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami collaborated with the Pakistani military. They informed on, hunted out, and participated in the rape, killing and torture of ordinary citizens. They targeted hundreds of intellectuals, who were killed in cold blood (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/bangladeshs-40-year-quest-for-justice.html). Its activists, in large numbers, allegedly joined irregular military units and fought alongside the Pakistani army. Consequently, its members are believed to be responsible for some of the most horrendous atrocities committed during the nine-month war which killed 3 million people. (http://tribune.com.pk/story/513683/analysis-calls-grow-for-banning-jamaat-e-islami-in-bd/).

Siddiq Salik, who was serving the Pakistan army as a major in Bangladesh in 1971, in his book ‘Witness to Surrender’ recounts the anti-liberation role of Jamaat, Muslim League and Nizam-i-Islam. He observed that Jamaat leaders collaborated with them [Pakistan army] not only to advance their ideals of Pakistan as an Islamic state, but also to wreak vengeance on people they were at enmity with, proving clearly that Jamaat’s activities during 1971 had nothing to do with Islam because the military rulers of Pakistan, under no circumstance, showed any resolve to follow Islamic code to run the country. (“Pak major’s account reveals Jamaat role;” http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=9188).

For the sake of brevity, here we will use the name of just one Jamaat leader, as an example, who in 1971 participated in crimes against humanity – involved with the rape of a minor girl and killing of 344 unarmed people. Mollah AKA the ‘Butcher of Mirpur’ for the atrocities he is said to have committed as a senior leader of the Razakar Force during the war (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2013/02/20132161077954941.html).

This party has short of been called a terrorist network and the US State Department has been closely monitoring their activities for a decade now. (“U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History;” http://www.levin.senate.gov/newsroom/speeches/speech/levin-opening-statement-us-vulnerabilitiesto-money-laundering-drugs-and-terrorist-financing-hsbc-case-history). Jammat’s student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, is extremely militant and has been linked to numerous acts of violence over the years. In addition, the group has also been linked to a number of larger terrorist organizations both in Bangladesh, and internationally.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Jamaat-e-Islami#Pakistan_Period_.281948_-_1971.29)

 

V. RECENT MOVEMENT AT SHAHBAG SQUARE

On February 5th this year the International Criminal Court (ICT) of Bangladesh sentenced Quader Molla, a top Jamaat leader, to life imprisonment which seemed to have helped him escape execution. After the verdict was announced in court – he flashed a victory sign! Considering this verdict too lenient for a war criminal like Quader Molla, who was responsible for slaughtering a poet, raping an 11-year old girl, and killing 344 people in 1971 – a spontaneous movement erupted, never seen before in the history of Bangladesh. Shahbag Square became the epicenter of an apolitical, grassroots movement led by students and Internet activists.  (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2013/02/2013219102023977820.html and http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201302190008-0022555). People from all walks of life, from all corner of the country joined them in many ways. Some spent time with them expressing solidarity by joining voice with them, some brought food and water for them. Even a pan-handler who on Feb 10 had collected Tk.345 from his day-long begging, spent his money to buy flattened rice and molasses for the demonstrators.

In addition to many religious people, the Imam of the largest Eid congregation in Bangladesh, Imam of Sholakia, came to Shahbag and expressed his  solidarity with this spontaneous movement (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RroYl3Z0oD8, http://www.daily-sun.com/details_yes_12-02-2013_Imams%E2%80%99-solidarity-withprotesters_407_1_1_1_8.html )

 

VI. THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL

In 2009, the Government led by the Awami League, the same political party that was instrumental in helping Bangladesh to its independence announced its plan to hold a war crimes Tribunal for the 1971 criminals under the International War Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973.  (Afrin, Zakia, “The International War Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973 Of Bangladesh;”  Chapter 13, Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy, 2009, copy available at http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/pubs/183). Despite certain valid criticisms of the ICT, there was no doubt Bangladesh needed to move toward an important milestone in its history by trying the war criminals. This would help the country put a closure to its wounds which if not taken care of will always come back to haunt all the victims’ families as well as any God-fearing honest and patriotic individual.

 

VII. JAMAAT’S RESPONSE TO THE WAR CRIME TRIAL

Following the verdicts of ICT, several hundred armed Jamaat activists attacked police as they tried to intercept its processions heading to Shahbag Square, where unarmed and non-violent demonstrations had been underway since February 5th. Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger and one of the organizers of the movement, was brutally murdered by allegedly Islami Chhatra Shibir’s volunteers for his role and support in speaking out against the War Criminals and Razakars. Recently one of Shibir’s members admitted that they orchestrated the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar, said detectives on Saturday (March 02, 2013). Five students of a private university confessed to their involvement in the killing. (http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/latest_news.php?nid=45126. As of now (March 03, 2013) Jamaat and Shibir’s protest seemed to have turned into bloody riots causing numerous death of innocent civilians, police, as well as their own people, and destruction of several temples around the country (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2013/02/2013222103554838445.html and

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/us-bangladesh-tribunal-idUSBRE91R0AN20130228).

 

CONCLUSION

Bangladesh, with 90% Muslim population, has always taken pride in their Islamic identity. The present government is not perfect; rather we can call it corrupt and nondemocratic, to a great extent (a problem, typical of most of countries in the world). But we can’t brand the government to be unislamic or anti-Islam. No conscientious person would find any validity to such claim. Anyone who spread such lies must have a hidden agenda. Whatever that agenda is, it is against humanity. Considering its past and present militant activities, Jamaat-e Islam Party and Islam can never be synonymous. The atrocities they committed in 1971 had nothing to do with Islam. Their acts (killing and raping of innocent people) were completely unislamic and inhuman. If we are good Muslims, we must stand up to protest anything that labels Bangladesh as anti-Islamic or repressive to Islam and prevent any party from using our beautiful religion as a shield to make mundane political gains.