6 congressmen’s letter to Biden a ‘false projection’ of the state of Bangladesh’s minorities, community leaders say
Several noted minority community leaders, academics and anti-war crimes campaigners have pulled up six US congressmen for what they called “absolutely false projection” of the state of minorities in Bangladesh in a letter to President Biden, asking to take “appropriate measures” for banning Bangladeshi law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions. They called it a “threat to the existing communal harmony in Bangladesh.” Asked about the authenticity of the claim in the letter that “Since Sheikh Hasina's rise to power, the Hindu population has been halved,” Advocate Rana Dasgupta, leader of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad, outright rejected it. “I will say this claim is a travesty of truth,” he said. Read more: Palbari Puja Mandap in Sherpur: Sign of communal harmony for over a century Referring to a number of surveys, he added, “Between 1947 and 1971, under Pakistani rule, a whopping 9.7% of the population declined.” Since Bangladesh became independent, over the last five decades, Hindu population decreased around 10 percent. This happened considerably when the country was ruled by BNP and Jamaat, he said. In response to such assertions in the letter from the US congressmen, Dasgupta said, “As the national election is approaching, a certain group has become very active.” Referring to earlier lobbying efforts by Jamaat, a political party which has proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military junta in 1971 in the acts of genocide, abduction, loot, arson, and rape, Dasgupta, also a prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal, said: “With the singular objective to stop the war crimes trial and enjoy the culture of impunity, Jamaat spent money and struck an agreement with lobbyist groups overseas to get the backing of foreign governments in their favour.” Read: Jamaat demands the govt declare Ahmadiyyas 'non-Muslim' “On the international stage, a systematic smear campaign has been carried out against the trial process,” he said. The letter from the six congressmen also claims “Sheikh Hasina’s government also has persecuted Bangladesh’s minority Christian population – burning and looting places of worship, jailing pastors, and breaking up families when religious conversion occurs.” Leaders of the community including Nirmal Rozario, president of Bangladesh Christian Association, rejected this claim as well. “It is an outright lie. Rather, the reality is that with the return of AL, our community has been living in harmony – with assistance from the prime minister. The government’s development schemes connect the minorities as well,” he said. Eminent researcher and freedom fighter Ajoy Das Gupta, said, “A number of BNP leaders, including Rumeen Farhana, went vocal on social media, justifying the letter.” “BNP and Jamaat hold a sordid record of attacking minorities,” he added. Read more: ‘Hate campaign’ being run against Ahmadiyyas on Twitter, says member of community Calling such assertions “biased, a travesty of justice, and highly motivated,” the minority community leaders also called into question why the US congressmen did not bother to mention the “BNP-Jamaat sponsored hate campaign against minorities”, including a series of tweets posted from the verified account of Basherkella – known as a “Jamaat mouthpiece” – calling for “boycotting” the Ahmadiyya community.
BNP-Jamaat is an alliance of killers, don't vote for them: PM Hasina at London reception
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has once again urged the people not to vote for BNP-Jamaat nexus in Bangladesh's next general election as they will just ruin the country. “They (BNP-Jamaat) will just destroy the country, nothing else. So, make it sure that BNP-Jamaat must not come to power again,” she said. The prime minister made the call on Sunday (May 07, 2023) while addressing a civic reception accorded to her by Bangladeshi expatriates in the UK at London Marriott Hotel. She said that BNP-Jamaat alliance is just a bunch of killers, thieves and corrupts. Read More: Khulna city polls: Miscreants attack BNP leader Kaisar’s house, threaten not to join election “So people should remain cautious and must not cast their votes for them,” she said. Hasina, the chief of the ruling Awami League, expressed hope that people of the country will give their verdict in favour of Awami League in the next general election. “Inshallah people will vote for us in the next election to setve them one more time,” she said. She said that BNP-Jamaat nexus siphoned off money and put the country on the verge of destruction. Read More: BNP leaders losing their mind over world's praise for Bangladesh: Hasan Mahmud “How could people cast their votes for them,” she wondered. She said that Tarique Rahman (BNP vice chairman) has been convicted of corruption and the government has been able to bring back some Tk 40 crore that was smuggled by Koko ( late son of BNP leader Khaleda Zia). Reiterating her determination to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh, Hasina said, “Bangladesh will be a smart Bangladesh by 2041. We have formulated Delta 2100 plan. We have to take the country forward.” She said that there will be no homeless, landless people in the country. Read More: BNP burning over PM's success on tours: Hasan Mahmud “Awami League works for the welfare of people. No person in Bangladesh will remain without food," she said. Criticising BNP leaders including Tarique , the PM said, "Today, where do you get the courage to call us vote thieves?" She said that Tarique Zia was a vote thief, and his mother ( Khaleda Zia) too. PM Hasina said that Awami League did not come to power by rigging the votes of the people. Read More: BNP-Jamaat protesters refuse PM Hasina's invite to meet her in hotel: Official “Awami League always fights for the rights of the people; Awami League has come to power after being elected by thecpeople. Awami League never grabbed or stole power,” she said. Hasina asked the BNP leaders to reflect on how many parties participated in the February 15, 1996 election and how many votes were cast. Awami League president said that the people of the country are now aware enough about their right to vote. "We have made the people aware.” The prime minister said that no one has anything to say about the fairness of the 2008 election that was won by the Awami League-led alliance. Read More: BNP, Ganatantra Mancha meeting held on future of anti-govt movement “What is the result of that election? How many seats did BNP's 20-party alliance get? The 20-party coalition won 29 seats in the election and 1 in a by-election, totaling 30 seats. And the remaining seat is Awami League-led alliance. We got it all. Where is their position among the people that they jump so much?” She briefly described various development programmes of the government that have been taken in the last 14 years.
BNP-Jamaat protesters refuse PM Hasina's invite to meet her in hotel: Official
When Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina saw a group of BNP-Jamaat supporters protesting outside Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington DC amid cold and pouring rain, she invited them to come inside to talk about their problems. But the demonstrators poured cold water on her good gesture and left the place. This happened here on Tuesday. According to Prime Minister's speech writer M Nazrul Islam when Hasina was coming to hotel Ritz Carlton to attend a civic reception she saw that some supporters of BNP-Jamaat were demonstrating in front of the hotel. Read More: Arson terrorists, killers must not grab power again: PM Hasina “The Prime Minister saw it and at that time it was raining and biting cold outside,” he said. Hasina said since they (BNP-Jamaat supporters) are demonstrating outside in cold, let their representatives come in, according to Nazrul. “Let them come in here to say what they want,” he quoted the PM as saying. Read More: PM Hasina seeks long-term US partnership to build Smart Bangladesh The premier then asked her PS-II Al Mamun Murshed and one official from the the Bangladesh mission to bring them to the hotel. “But police officials here at first denied to allow them without the permission from the hotel authority, then the officials took the permission from the hotel authority for taking them inside. But the demonstrating BNP-Jamaat supporters left the place spurning the good gesture of the Prime Minister,” Nazrul mentioned. The prime minister sincerely wanted to listen to them, he said. Read More: Stay with us in implementing future physical & social mega projects: PM Hasina to WB
Investigate if BNP-Jamaat are behind recent fire incidents to cripple economy: PM Hasina asks authorities
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday asked the authorities concerned to investigate whether opposition BNP and Jamaat, who had unleashed a campaign of terror and arson attacks during 2013-14, are involved in the recent fire incidents in the country. “It should be investigated whether they (BNP-Jamaat) are taking a different path by causing incidents like fire and cripple the economy,” she said. The prime minister said this while speaking at the Awami League Local Government Nomination Board meeting held at her official residence Ganabhaban. Her call came even as another massive fire broke out in Dhaka's New Super Market gutting scores of shops early Saturday. Also read: Intelligence agencies urged to probe if sabotage is behind frequent fire incidents: Fire Service DG Hasina, also the president of Awami League, asked to investigate whether the fire incidents in various markets were conspiracy or sabotage to hurt the economy. She asked to increase surveillance in important markets across the country. “Everyone should be more aware. Everyone has to make arrangements on their own initiative to guard (their establishments). All efforts by the government will continue,” she said. She also said that unwanted crowds must not be allowed to gather during the fire fighters' battle to control the blaze and strict action will be taken in case of any obstruction regarding this matter. The PM said that when the first fire incident occurred it was thought to be an accident. “But after the couple of other fire incidents at the same time of the first one… the fire incidents are taking place after 6am. Surveillance should be increased and other markets have to remain alert,” she said. She also mentioned that it has been noticed that when the fire service comes they face obstacles by some people. “Why will they face obstacles and while they tried to douse the fire some people with sticks and blunt instruments attacked the fire fighters. Who are these people?, " she wondered. She said that a careful study of the four recent fire incidents at shopping malls in the city suggests these have been either planned or manipulated. “We know that some political parties are there to wage movement after Eid, cripple the economy and oust the government. Yes, you can oust the government, but what are the faults of these common people and businessmen,” she asked. She said that businesspeople have been the worst sufferers as fire incidents hit them at a time when they looked for brisk business. “This will not be spared easily, and we have increased our surveillance in this matter,” she said. She also urged the people to remain alert. Recalling the arson terrorism by the BNP-Jamaat clique in the recent past, she suspected that they might resort to another path aimed at hurting the economy. "It should be properly investigated," she asserted. “In the past they burnt the common people and now wonder whether they have taken a different path to cripple the economy. We have to unearth this mystery,” she said. She requested all to remain alert regarding BNP-Jamaat’s change of strategy of taking to arson terrorism in another form. “We have to keep this under watch,” she added.
Rights activists slam US report’s claims about Jamaat
Anti war crimes campaigners and rights activists have criticized the latest US human rights report on Bangladesh that advocated for the “freedom of assembly” of Jamaat-e-Islami – which strongly opposed the independence of Bangladesh and with the Pakistan army committed crimes against humanity during the Liberation War. According to the US State Department report: “Leaders and members of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the largest Muslim political party in the country, could not exercise their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly because of harassment by law enforcement authorities. Jamaat was deregistered as a political party by the government, prohibiting candidates from seeking office under the Jamaat name.” “This report concerns Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat) Bangladesh, a political party which has the proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military junta in 1971 in the acts of genocide, abduction, loot, arson, rape and other kinds of violence against women. It is an established fact that its military wings in the name of Al-Badr and Al-Shams were responsible for the killings of intellectuals between December 10 and 14,” noted rights activist Sultana Kamal observed. “With due respect, I would like to submit that scanning through the media, Pakistani government communications, international reports on Bangladesh genocide of 1971, one cannot miss seeing what was the role of Jamaat during the nine months of massacre of Bangladesh… It was through a process of law that Jamaat was deregistered,” she said. As a freedom fighter, she asked if one can imagine Nazi party being allowed to function in Germany. Regarding the US report mentioning Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal as “many observers viewed the proceedings as politically motivated,” the rights activist who is also a renowned lawyer said: “I have no idea on what basis the report states the war crimes trial in Bangladesh was flawed. Since I have not seen any clear explanation as to why some quarters make such remark about the war crimes trial, I prefer not to comment. However, my experience with the tribunal was that the accused’s right to self-defence was fully respected.” Meanwhile, Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee – a group demanding the trial of war criminals and advocating for secularism in Bangladesh – has released a statement regarding the US report. “Jamaat is still engaged in various forms of evil conspiracy against democracy and sovereignty of the country through their sponsored militant, terrorist organisations,” the statement reads. “Jamaat is an anti-democratic fascist party which does not obey the constitution. That’s why the High Court scrapped its registration, not the government,” the Nirmul Committee statement adds. The statement also cautions that the “untrue” claims about Jamaat in the US report could instigate “fundamentalism and terrorism” led by Jamaat. Signatories to the statement included Justice Shamsul Huda; former Supreme Court justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik; Barrister Shafique Ahmed; Prof Anupam Sen; cultural personality Ramendu Majumdar; noted artists Hashem Khan and Rafiqun Nabi; writer and war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir; historian Prof Muntassir Mamoon; and writer and educationist Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal.
Jamaat demands the govt declare Ahmadiyyas 'non-Muslim'
Demanding that the government officially declare the Ahmadiyya community “non-Muslim”, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s Acting Secretary General Maulana ATM Masum issued a statement on March 5. The statement released on Jamaat’s website says: “Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country where 90 percent people are Muslims. In this country, Qadiani (Ahmadiyya) community is committing reckless activities against Islam. The Islam-loving people will never accept it. The government’s role in this regard is questionable.” “The government should resolve the Qadiani crisis permanently paying full heed to the public views and also to declare Qadiani Non-Muslim officially,” the statement added. On Friday, a protest march against an Ahmadiyya religious event moved towards the Ahmednagar area in Panchagarh. As police stopped the procession at Chowrangi intersection, the men started throwing brickbats at the law enforcers, according to reports. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells to disperse them, witnesses said. Two men died and scores, including policemen, sustained injuries in the clash. Some journalists covering the violence were also among the injured. Shops in Panchagarh town were closed down as violence induced panic among people. The angry mob also looted around 20 houses belonging to the Ahmadiyya community located in Ahmednagar. According to a report published in The Daily Star today, the Ahmadiyya community in Panchagarh district are living in fear of further attacks from hardliners. Many members of the community, particularly the elderly, women and children, have left their houses and are taking shelter in educational institutions or relatives’ homes, adds the report. Meanwhile, since Friday’s violence, a series of tweets were posted from the verified account of Basherkella – known as a “Jamaat mouthpiece” – with “police brutality” and “boycott Qadiani (Ahmadiyya)” in hashtags. Members of the community are calling this a “hate campaign” against Ahmadiyyas.
BNP, Jamaat will create unrest before polls, Tarikat chairman tells JS
Tarikat Federation chairman Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari on Wednesday said that BNP and Jamaat would do subversive activities later this year to destabilise the country ahead of next general elections. Bashar said that while the country is moving forward under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina there is a conspiracy to destabilise the country by the BNP and its alliance Jamaat. He said that he has information that BNP and Jamaat will start killing again from next August. “They want to take the country towards another direction in August, September, October and November. Killing, militancy will increase, I am asking the government to be aware of this.” “No matter what conspiracies they do, the next election will be held as per the constitution,” he said. He made the statement while participating in the discussion on the thanksgiving motion on President’s speech in Parliament. Bashar said that Hasina will return to power through next national elections. He said that he will also be elected as MP in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “In the next election, the prime minister will be the prime minister again. I will also be an MP from the Tarikat Federation, there is no (chance of any) mistake,” he said. Mentioning that the national election will be held in the first week of January next year, he said, "whether BNP comes or not, it does not matter at all.” He said that the election will be held under the leadership of the 14-party alliance leader Sheikh Hasina. He called on all the pro-liberation forces to unite under the leadership of Hasina. Ruling party MP Kujendra Lal Tripura said that 50 to 60 percent of Khagrachari area has come under electrification. “Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board through the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs is trying to light up the area with Tk 217 crore solar panels. We want electricity in the areas where it is possible to reach.” Jatiya Party MP Pir Fazlur Rahman said that earlier Begum Para was in Canada. “Now Begum para is being established in many countries of the world. Not only politicians, but also government officials are buying houses abroad.” Pir Fazlur said that many are buying 10-20 houses in Canada, Dubai. “No action is taken against money laundering from the country.” He also raised questions about how the central bank monitors. He said that the defaulted loan in the bank is Tk 1.5 lakh crore. “If you do the actual calculations, it will exceed Tk four lakh crore. The owner of one bank is taking loan from another bank. Actions should be taken against them.” The Jatiya Party MP said that everyone talks about development. “But some leaders do not see development. They visit their area occasionally. They are leaders of Awami League, but want to be elected in the future.” Criticising the sluggish implementation of development projects and the increase in project cost, Pir Fazlur said that if the duration of the project increases, the cost also increases. “Corruption is inextricably linked with it.”
Cancelation of registration: SC asks Jamaat to prepare appeal statement in 2 months
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (SC) today has given Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami two months to prepare a brief statement of an appeal filed by the party against a High Court (HC) verdict that declared the registration of the party with Election Commission “illegal”. A three-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique passed the order. Lawyer Joynal Abedin Tuhin and Advocate Matiur Rahman Akanda represented Jamaat-e-Islami while Barrister Tanya Amir appeared for the writ petitioner during the proceedings. Read more: Jamaat-e-Islami can get registered if conditions are met, says commissioner Alamgir Barrister Taniya Amir said the apex court in its order said the appeal of Jamaat-e-Islami would be defaulted (dismissed) if the party did not submit the brief statement within eight weeks. Advocate Matiur Rahman Akanda said as per the court order, Jamaat-e-Islami will take part in the hearing and it is expected that the party will get back its registration. In August, 2013, the High Court declared Jamaat’s registration illegal following a writ petition filed in 2009 by Bangladesh Tariqat Federation’s Secretary General Rezaul Haque Chandpuri and 24 others. Read more: Despite its 1971 role, spokesperson says Jamaat ‘committed to democracy’ since formation In the petition, they said Jamaat was a religion-based political party and it did not believe in the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh. Later, Jamaat-e-Islami filed the appeal with the apex court challenging the HC verdict.
150 Jamaat-Shibir men sued, 6 held over attack on police in Rajshahi
Police Wednesday said they filed a case against 150 leaders and activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Chhatra Shibir over the attack on the law enforcers in Rajshahi city as a reaction to the arrest of the party's chief. Ariful Islam, sub-inspector (SI) of Boalia Model Police Station, filed the case against 16 named and 134 unnamed people at the police station Tuesday night. Boalia Model Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Mazharul Islam said they have so far arrested six people, including the chief of Shah Makhdum Thana unit chief. "Efforts are on to arrest others." Read more: Arrest warrants issued against Jamaat chief, 11 others in sabotage case A clash broke out Tuesday when the Awami League men intercepted a procession brought out by Jamaat and Shibir in the Darikharbona area to protest the arrest of their party chief Md Shafiqur Rahman. As result, a clash broke out between the two parties. At that time, two law enforcers sustained injuries while trying to disperse the Jamaat and Shibir men, Mazharul said.
Can a British legal adviser for Jamaat be considered an ‘independent voice’ for human rights?
In a report published on December 6, 2022, Toby Cadman – a UK lawyer who was part of the team that asked the US and UK governments for sanctions against Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) – told Al Jazeera that everyone involved was surprised when UK decided not to implement sanctions. After war crimes trials of its senior leaders began, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami hired Toby Cadman as its legal counsel in London in 2011. Read more: Toby Cadman, who was Jamaat's legal advisor, tells Al Jazeera he was part of team asking US, UK govts for Rab sanction At the time, Tajul Islam, the legal representative for five Jamaat leaders, notified the media that Steven Kay QC, Toby Cadman, and John Cammegh had consented to represent the Jamaat leaders. Al Jazeera, in its report, quoted Cadman as saying, “I filed the request for sanctions and whilst I am not in a position to discuss the substance, I can confirm that I discussed the request with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office [FCDO, UK].” He added, “Having worked on both the US and UK request for sanctions, I was strongly of the view that a coordinated response was necessary in the circumstances… Our filing in the UK targeted political officials and those in the security sector…. It was certainly my position that the UK would issue mirror sanctions in coordination with the US. I was extremely disappointed when they failed to do so.” The question that arises here then, is: Under what circumstances can a legal adviser, hired to represent a certain party, be considered “an independent voice” for human rights? Can a lawyer be “independent”, if he cannot go against the interests of his clients? Further question arises as to how some media outlets can continue to project Cadman as “an independent voice”. Read more: US sanctions on RAB made BNP fearless in anti-government protests: Fakhrul It should also be noted that BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, in an interview published last month, had said the US sanctions on Rab helped rejuvenate the BNP rank and file to take to the streets fearlessly, something reflected in its recent rallies. The detailed admission by Cadman, coupled with Fakhrul’s comment on US sanctions being a morale booster for them, makes the much-touted narrative that the sanctions were slapped on Rab solely because of serious violations of human rights look questionable. Considering these latest developments and revelations, there seem to be regime change intentions at play. Moreover, a recent video of a Labour Party MP, in UK Parliament, asking the UK FCDO minister for Indo-Pacific why the UK did not go ahead with the sanctions at the last minute, makes the intentions more palpable. (The writer is a Professor at the Department of Public Administration, University of Rajshahi. Views expressed are his own.)