Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ghulam Azam hailed Pak army atrocities

Prosecution tells war crimes tribunal.

Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam gave frequent statements praising and supporting the atrocities of the Pakistani occupation forces during the Liberation War in 1971, the International Crimes Tribunal was told yesterday.

Reading out the formal charges against Ghulam Azam, the prosecution said he repeatedly praised the Pakistani army and its auxiliary forces for protecting “Pakistani ideologies” and holding back the “miscreants and insurgents devastating the country”.

Ghulam Azam, 89, is facing charges on 62 specific crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war. 

He is one of the front men who actively helped the Pakistani occupation forces' attempt to foil the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.

He had exclusive control over auxiliary forces, including the Peace Committee, Al Badr and Al Shams; and called for supplying the forces with modern arms so that they could effectively support the Pakistani army, the prosecution said, quoting a number of newspaper reports published in 1971.

The newspapers included the dailies Ittefaq, Sangram, Purbadesh, Pakistan and Azadi.

The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Md Nizamul Huq finished hearing the 191-page formal charges against Ghulam Azam yesterday.

Ghulam Azam was not brought to the tribunal yesterday from his prison cell at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University hospital. The court excused him from being present due to his old age and physical weakness.

The tribunal, however, ordered the police to produce him before the court on February 27 when the prosecution will present a number of video clips and slides showing Ghulam Azam's role during the Liberation War.

According to Prosecutor Zead Al Malum, the videos include 1971 news items from TV channels CBS, NBC, CNBC and BBC, which the prosecution have collected from the US.

The videos also include a US government documentary that US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J Rapp had given to the prosecution on behalf of the US government, Malum told reporters following yesterday's court proceedings.

Ghulam Azam is among six Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and two BNP leaders now facing war crimes charges at the tribunal.

Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo along with prosecutors Saiful Islam, Nurjahan Begum Mukta and Zead Al Malum read out the formal charges before the tribunal yesterday.

“On June 18, 1971, while talking to journalists in Lahore airport, Ghulam Azam snubbed any possibilities of giving power to the elected officials, and pledged support to the Pakistani rulers to maintain peace,” said Saiful Islam.

He had termed the pro-liberation people as “separatists” and called on to the government to hand arms to “reliable people” to save Pakistan's ideology, said Islam, adding that Ghulam Azam referred to the Jamaat-e-Islami, Al Badr and Al Shams members as reliable people.

Ghulam Azam gave a similar statement on at least three other occasions, according to the formal charges.

“On August 8, 1971, he called the insurgency 'Mir Jafari' [treachery similar to what Mir Jafar did to overthrow the last free nawab of Bangla] activities and a part of Indian conspiracy,” said Nurjahan Begum Mukta, quoting news reports of the dailies Sangram, Purbadesh and Ittefaq.

On the same day, he thanked the Pakistani army for managing to hold back the “miscreants” in the face of “massive adversities”, the prosecutor said.

Ghulam Azam also praised the role of peace committee members and collaborators; and called on the Bangalee Muslims to accept Pakistani ideologies if they wanted to “save their existence” on two other occasions, the prosecution said.

Later, prosecutor Zead Al Malum said 38 prisoners of Brahmanbaria jail including policeman Shiru Miah were killed on Ghulam Azam's orders.

“He held meetings with Abul Ala Maududi, Yahya Khan and Tikka Khan,” said the prosecutor, adding that Ghulam Azam was involved in conspiring against innocent Bangalees and instigating assaults on them.

Reading out the concluding section of the formal charges, Chief Prosecutor Ghulam Arieff Tipoo prayed to the tribunal to take action against Ghulam Azam as per provision of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.

In his submission, Tipoo said the detained Jamaat leader had committed crimes against humanity and peace alongside genocide, killing and other grievous offences during the Liberation War.

Earlier on the day, the tribunal adjourned until today the recording of prosecution witnesses' deposition against Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Delawar Hossain Sayedee, who is also facing charges of crime against humanity at the tribunal.

The court passed the adjournment order since the scheduled prosecution witness did not appear before the tribunal due to personal difficulties.