IHRC condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s sentencing to death by a Bangladeshi tribunal of Motiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, after his conviction for crimes against humanity during the country’s liberation war against Pakistan in 1971.
Mr Nizami, aged 71, was tried on 16 counts of war crimes including murder, rape, looting, abetment and the massacre of Bengali intellectuals during the liberation war. He had already been convicted of smuggling arms to Assamese insurgents and sentenced to death in January this year.
Mr Nizami, who served as a highly respected member of parliament between 1991-1996, has denied the charges saying that they are politically motivated. Nizami became the second opposition leaders to be sentenced to death in what international human rights groups have universally condemnded as a withchunt by the ruling Awami League against its political rivals. Another former leader of the popular Jamaat-e-Islami party, Abdul Kader Mullah was hanged in December 2013 after being found guilty of war crimes during the 1971 conflict.
Human rights organisations and opposition groups have condemned the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) set up in 2010 by the ruling Awami League to investigate atrocities carried out during the 1971 war for failing to meet international standards of justice. They have accused the ruling Awami League of using the ICT as a tool with which to weaken its political opponents. Almost the entire leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami currently stands accused of war crimes.
The ICT has been beset with allegations of irregularities. Mr Nizami and his supporters have accused judges and the prosecution of conspiring with each other to secure a conviction through secret liaisons, failing to allow the defence enough time to prepare its case.
They have also criticised the ICT for intimidating witnesses, being involved in the disappearance of a key witness, and in the case of Abdul Kader Mullah, retrospectively changing the law to send him to the gallows after an initial life imprisonment sentence had failed to satisfy popular demands.
The IHRC is appalled by the latest death sentence to be handed down to the country’s opposition leadership and calls on the international community to apply pressure on the Bangladeshi government to conform to internationally accepted standards of justice.
For media enquiries please call +4420 8904 4222 or 447958 522196[Ends]
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222