As shocked as they are frustrated, eminent citizens see the verdict against former Jamaat kingpin Ghulam Azam as a travesty of justice. This judgment is simply not up to the people’s expectations, they told The Daily Star’s Tamanna Khan and Prabir Barua Chowdhury.
Prof Muntassir Mamoon, a witness in the case, said he was disappointed as the tribunal did not hand Ghulam Azam the capital punishment.
Nevertheless, the verdict has proved that Ghulam Azam and his party Jamaat-e-Islami helped the Pakistan Army lead a massive genocide in the country, said Muntassir, also a noted educationist and writer.
“The verdict has established that the Jamaat is guilty. So the government should immediately ban the organisation,” he said. “After this verdict the Election Commission should consider whether the Jamaat-e-Islami should still be a registered political party.”
Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu
Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu, a noted cultural activist and freedom fighter, said the verdict had let down the mass people, freedom fighters and victims of the war crimes.
He urged the government to appeal against the verdict to ensure capital punishment for Ghulam Azam.
He also demanded that the government terminate the Jamaat-Shibir men from government offices as the organisation was accused of war crimes and that its men would harm the country.
Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal
Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, eminent writer and son of martyr Faizur Rahman, said the punishment given to Ghulam Azam was not up to his expectation.
“He should be hanged more than once for the crimes he committed,” he said, adding that he accepted the verdict as he respected the judicial system.
Referring to the crimes committed by the Pakistani auxiliary forces during the war, he said, with some frustration: “Though they killed children and elderly men and women indiscriminately without any consideration for anyone, we, on the other hand, have to be proper and decent when trying them for those crimes and take their age into consideration.”
He called on the youths not to be disheartened by this verdict. “They have to keep their spirits up because there is a lot more to do in the future.”
Prof Anwar Hossain
Prof Anwar Hossain, vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, said he was very upset as the verdict was not up to the people’s expectations.
He added Ghulam Azam deserved capital punishment because he had been accused of exercising “command responsibility” in 1971.
Citing examples of different international war crimes tribunals, he said anyone facing charges of command responsibility had to face capital punishment.
Mofidul Hoque, a trustee board member of the Liberation War Museum, expressed frustration over the judgment.
“As far as I know, it is unprecedented that a war crimes tribunal takes into consideration the age of an accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity while deciding on his punishment. All charges against him [Ghulam Azam] have been proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
He said he wondered why Ghulam Azam had not been given the highest punishment, when he was tried for horrendous atrocities committed all across the country.
Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury
Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, vice president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and widow of intellectual martyr Alim Chowdhury, is troubled by the verdict.
“We have waited 42 years. And for 21 years we, the activists of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, have continued our movement for justice on the street. Even in the people’s court in 1992, he was given maximum punishment. But this tribunal could not do the same,” she said.
She is concerned that the other accused of war crimes would not get capital punishment.
“In fact, if the government changes, all of them will go free. Then they will try us — those who are now demanding their trial,” she feared.
Ziauddin Tariq Ali
Ziauddin Tariq Ali, a member of Liberation War Museum Trustee Board, said he was shocked by the verdict.
“Only a few years ago, an 89-year-old prime accused was given the highest punishment in the Nuremberg trial as per provision of that country’s law where there is no death penalty.”
Ghulam Azam had planned, motivated and organised killings and his plans led to the deaths of three million people of Bangladesh, he said.
“Considering the magnitude of the crimes committed by him, anything less than the death penalty is not punishment enough,” he added.
Source: The Daily Star