The Saga of Naïve Dealings in Dhaka: Who Wants This Kangaroo Tribunal? | Turkish Weekly

8 Jan

The Saga of Naïve Dealings in Dhaka: Who Wants This Kangaroo Tribunal?

written by
Ahmad Abdullah
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Monday, 7 January 2013

At last the team arrived. After much concerns, confusions and call for retrials by almost all major international human rights and legal organizations, a team of specialists had arrived in Dhaka to observe first hand what is actually happening there. Bad luck for the government and its spearhead-the ultra-left-oriented civil society in the intensely politically polarized country. The delegation came from a purportedly “Islamist Turkey”. A delegation of human rights activists, legal professionals and academics visited Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal. The tribunal is already notorious for politically motivated proceedings and declassed as a domestic tribunal by Human Rights Watch, International Bar association and by a recent ‘The Economist’ report for not following any international standards.

The tribunal is set to try the culprits of the atrocities of 1971 war of liberation. But the most interesting problem, however, is that the masterminds, are not in the courtroom but in Pakistan. Rather the defendants are allegedly the “collaborators” of the Pakistani army, and more interestingly they all happened to be the current central leadership of the largest opposition Islamist party of Bangladesh, Jamaat e Islami. The Jamaat leaders denied all the charges.

This recent visit by the Turkish rights group was significant for a number of reasons. The timing is very crucial as Bangladesh government is yet-to-be recovered from a shock which came by a first president who raised concerns about the trial process. According to the local media, in his message President of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Abdullah Gül said that, through the Bangladeshi community living in Turkey as well as different socio-political leaders of Turkey, he came to know that the Bangladesh government is planning to execute the top brass of the opposition Islamist party within March next year on a flimsy pretext.

It is evident from their visits with the law minister, chief prosecutor from government, foreign secretary and a primary witness who is also a prominent secular feminist activist that, they apparently tried to investigate the whole matter objectively. The team has only collected information, and has visited the center of all controversy, the tribunal. And at the end, they said to Bangladeshi press that they are not here to make arbitrary comments, instead, they will go back to Turkey and after analyzing the whole scenario they will be able to make comments on the issue.

Perhaps this is the most academic approach that, so far this issue and the nation have witnessed. But in a quixotic stance, after the departure of the Turkish delegation, the foreign minister of Bangladesh has said to the press that, the delegation has misused the privilege of “on-arrival” visa as well as terms them as “Muslim Brotherhood members”. However, the official ‘visa on-arrival policy’ of Bangladesh does not negate any such undertaking. Previously many international delegations visited the tribunal, i.e. HRW, Amnesty Int, Berkeley University, ICC & and an Australian organization visited. It is to be asked to the foreign minister that why Turkish NGO visits should be treated any differently. The Turkish NGO entered the Tribunal only after getting permission from The Deputy Registrar’s office of Supreme Court. Dipu Moni, who is a physician by profession, sounded so naïve while terming them “Muslim Brotherhood”, not having any idea about the country where the Brotherhood operates. Why then the law minister and foreign relations adviser to PM had met with the “Muslim Brothers” may be another good question.

However, the saga continues. The foreign office has called on the Turkish ambassador to Dhaka about the letter of president Gül. Bangladesh government bypassed all the concerns with a feeble blank check that it is their “internal issue”. Who on earth will dare to tell them humanitarian issue transcendences border or nations? And most importantly though president Gül is the first president to express concern regarding this issue, but he is not the only one to articulate these concerns, in fact a number of human rights groups previously raised concerns. President Gül’s remarks have its underpinnings in Turkish history. As in September 17, 1961 the first democratically elected Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was hanged to death by the military junta following a ruthless coup d’état, Turkish nation was deeply traumatized and segregation of the nation was even intensified. Turkey’s this move should be seen as gesture of benevolence and goodwill to its brethrens in Bangladesh to not to let the same mistakes take place again.

It lies solely on Bangladesh government’s whims, that whether it will continue to deny and bypass all concerns from its friendly countries. But for Turkey, it has encrypted its name in the pages of history. For not remaining silent, although Bangladesh may not be the most attractive place for Turkish businessmen. It is not only the rightist camp which includes the center right main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party and its allies who are very optimistic about president Gül’s letter and the delegation visit. All the prominent religious scholars who lead the prayer in hundreds of thousands of mosques in the countryside of Bangladesh, a number of university teachers, journalists and activists expressed a very positive message about Turkey and its growing pro active role in the whole Muslim world.

Meanwhile, most of the local media, academia, and civil society look on in calm. The silence of indignity and betrayal. The intellectuals, human rights activists, journalists and the media Mafias, who remain silent while claiming to be activists for and champions of humanitarian affairs, brought shame to their profession. History will mention them justly, although they could not remain just to themselves and others. There always survives in human reminiscence an unceremonious Court of cowards, traitors and historic sell-outs. But Turkey will surely have its day in the courtroom of dignity, freedom and justice. That case, government of Bangladesh has by now lost.

*The writer is a student at University of Dhaka and a freelance journalist.

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