The 71-year-old cleric is set to see verdict Thursday for the crimes he had committed in 1971 amid tension erupted after anti-liberation Jamaat-Shibir forces declare a hartal and the pro-liberation protesters in SHAHBAGH and across the country vow to RESIST the subversive activities likely to be carried out.
This case is one of the most sensitive ones currently under trial at the two tribunals. Moreover, there had been much controversies during the proceedings that ended on January 29 centring prosecution witnesses shifting stance, alleged disappearance of two witnesses and poor submission of evidence, while the defence raised many other issues to impede the process.
Sayedee on several occasions have claimed that he was innocent and all these allegations were “false, fabricated and brought to malign his image”. He also cursed the tribunal and those linked with the trial. He claims that there have been no complaints against him in the years following the Liberation War. But when he became a member of Majlish-e-Sura of Jamaat in 1980, he started being referred to as a former member of Shanti Bahini and razakar.
However, the situation in Pirojpur have been tense since Sayedee was put in jail in June 29, 2010 as there’re a number of madrasas and other institutions set up under the initiative of Sayedee and his having a good number of followers, most of who are fanatics. The law enforcers in the town have always been on alert so that the Jamaat supporters couldn’t create anarchy.
To terrorise people and the tribunal, the Jamaat has declared a hartal for Thursday as it did in the case of Quader Mollah on February 5. People came out to the streets in the afternoon to protest against the LIFE-TERM verdict despite the fact that the allegations of genocide and rape were proved against him undoubtedly. The protest has been underway in Shahbagh since then whereas Bangladeshis across the country and beyond the border expressed their solidarity with the call of SHAHBAGH: “We demand DEATH PENALTY of all war criminals.”
Today, the SHAHBAGH protesters gathered at Motijheel — the commercial hubspot of Dhaka — to garner their public support towards the call for death penalty, a ban on Jamaat and asking people to boycott products-services and companies-institutions owned by the war criminals.
Yesterday evening, the SHAHBAGH STAGE reiterated that the protest was not against Islam or the Islamist parties but only Jamaat-Shibir forces. They also expressed their frustration while submitting a memorandum to the home minister at his office demanding that the Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman be arrested immediately. The minister, however, didn’t say anything concrete nor the law enforcers held a drive at the newspaper’s office.
However, many protesters have been blaming the organising bloggers for being SOFT towards the govt in pushing the demands. But above all the frustrations, they’re continuing to take part in the event spontaneously.
On Tuesday, a committee was formed at the SHAHBAGH movement comprising of 30 cultural and film organisations. This committee will assist the main stage by maintaining the cultural activities in front of the Fine Arts Faculty properly. It’d also help the cultural activists perform effectively and in a disciplined manner, and hence, fortify the SHAHBAGH MOVEMENT.
Anger mounted high as the govt is considering banning Jamaat following a 2009 petition, not doing it through an executive order for the recent atrocities. The radical Islamist party could be BANNED for its 1971 role too, but the legal procedure is too slow to give the people some consolation.
TIMELINE – SAYEDEE CASE:
- Sayedee was arrested on June 29, 2010.
- Charges submitted on July 11, 2011 and tribunal took cognisance on July 14, 2011.
- Tribunal framed 20 specific charges on October 3, 2011. Prosecution dropped one during the case proceedings.
- The trial finally began on November 20, 2011.
- Forty-four witnesses and absentee witnesses give deposition against Sayedee while 17 produced as defence witnesses. First prosecution witnesses testified on December 7, 2011 while the defence produced their first witness on September 2, 2012.
- Prosecution began placing its closing arguments on November 5, 2012 while the defence on November 18.
- Case proceedings at Tribunal-1 ended December 6, 2012.
- Tribunal reconstituted on December 13, 2012.
- Tribunal-1 on January 3 decided to rehear the closing arguments as it was reconstituted following the resignation of Justice Nizamul Huq, chairman of the tribunal, amid controversy over his Skype conversation with a Brussels-based Bangladeshi lawyer. It ended on January 29.
TIMELINE – CHARGES:
Twenty charges were brought against Jamaat-e-Islami leader and former MP Delawar Hossain Sayedee in connection with the alleged crimes against humanity and others during the 1971 Liberation War in Pirojpur district under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. The charges are given in brief:
1. On May 4, 1971, Sayedee as a member of Peace (shanti) Committee informed the Pakistan army and took them to a spot where the army killed 20 unnamed people by firing.
2. On May 4, 1971, the Jamaat leader along with his accomplices accompanied by the Pakistan army looted goods in Masimpur Hindu Para under Pirojpur Sadar, set the houses alight and opened fire on the scared people killing 13 people.
3. On May 4, 1971, Sayedee with the Pakistan army looted goods from the houses of two Hindu families in the same area and set the houses on fire. He also directly took part in setting fire to the roadside houses of villages Kalibari, Masimpur, Palpara, Sikarpur, Razarhat, Kukarpara, Dumur Tola, Kalamtola, Nawabpur, Alamkuthi, Dhukigathi, Parerha and Chinrakhali.
4. Sayedee and his accomplices, accompanied by the Pakistani army, on May 4, 1971 looted the Hindu houses and opened fire on them in front of Dhopa Bari and behind the LGED Building in Pirojpur, leaving four persons killed.
5. Sayedee was involved in the abduction and killing of Saif Mizanur Rahman, then deputy magistrate of Pirojpur Sub-division, Foyezur Rahman Ahmed, sub-divisional police officer, and Abdur Razzak (SDO in charge of Pirojpur) in the Baleshwar riverbank.
6. On May 7, 1971, Sayedee identified the houses and shops of Bangalees belonging to the Awami League, Hindu community and pro-liberation people at Parerhat Bazar under Pirojpur Sadar, and as one of the perpetrators, he looted away valuables, including 22 seers of gold and silver from the shop of one Makhanlal Shaha.
7. On May 8, 1971, Sayedee led a team of the Pakistan army to the house of freedom fighter Nurul Islam Khan, detained him and handed him over to the army, which tortured Nurul Islam. His house was then looted and finally set on fire.
8. Sayedee directly participated in the abduction, murder and persecution of Mofizuddin, brother of Manik Poshari at Chitholia under Pirojpur Sadar, and one Ibrahim on May 8, 1971. Their houses were burnt down too.
9. On June 2, 1971, armed associates of Sayedee accompanied by the Pakistani army raided the house of one Abdul Halim Babul at Nolbunia under Indurkani, looted valuables and then razed the house to ashes.
10. On June 2, 1971, Sayedee’s armed associates under his leadership and accompanied by the Pakistan army burnt 25 houses of a Hindu Para in Umedpur village under Indurkani Police Station. At one stage, a victim, Bisabali, was tied to a coconut tree and was shot dead by Sayedee’s accomplice.
11. On June 2, 1971, Sayedee and Peace Committee members, accompanied by the Pakistani army, raided the house of freedom fighter Mahbubul Alam Howlader of Tengra Khali village under Indurkani. Mahbubul’s elder brother Abdul Mazid Howlader was detained and tortured. Cash money, jewellery and other valuables were looted from the house.
12. One day, Sayedee with a group comprising 15-20 armed men entered the Hindu Para of Parerhat Bazar and captured 14 Hindus, tied them with a single rope to be dragged to Pirojpur and handed over to Pakistani soldiers, who killed them. Their bodies were thrown into the river.
13. One night, about 2 to 3 months after the war commenced, some members of Peace Committee with Sayedee and the Pakistan army raided the house of Azhar Ali of Nalbunia village in Pirojpur Sadar. They then caught and tortured Azahar Ali and his son Shaheb Ali. The team then abducted Shaheb Ali and ultimately he was taken to Pirojpur and killed.
14. During the final stages of the war, Sayedee one morning led a team of 50-60 Razakar into attacking the Hindu Para of Hoglabunia under Pirojpur Sadar. Some of them entered the house of one Shefali Gharami and raped her. Sayedee did not prevent them from committing rape upon her. They also set fire to the dwelling houses in the area.
15. Sayedee led 15-20 armed Razakars entered the Hoglabunia village under Pirojpur Sadar during the last part of the war, caught 10 members of the Hindu faith, tied all of them with a single rope, dragged them to Pirojpur and handed them over to the Pakistani army. They were all killed and their bodies were dumped into the river.
16. In the course of the Liberation War, Sayedee led a group of 10-12 armed Razakars and Peace Committee members, which surrounded the house of Gouranga Saha of Parerhat Bandar under Pirojpur Sadar. They abducted three women and handed them over to the Pakistan army where they were confined and raped for three days before being released.
17. During the Liberation War, Sayedee along with other armed Razakars kept Vanu Saha confined at her house at Parerhat and regularly used to go there to rape her.
18. During that time, one Bhagirothi used to work in the camp of the Pakistan army. One day, after a fight with the freedom fighters, and at the instance of Sayedee, Bhagirothi was charged with passing information to the freedom fighters and killed.
19. During the war, Sayedee, exercising his influence over the Hindu community of Pirojpur, converted 100-150 Hindus of Parerhat and other villages and compelled them to go to the mosque to offer prayers.
20. On a day at the end of November 1971, Sayedee got information that thousands of people were fleeing to India in order to save their lives. He led a group of 10-12 Razakars, attacked the houses of Talukdar Bari at Indurkani village and detained a total of 85 persons and looted goods from there. Of them, all but 10-12 persons were released in exchange for bribes negotiated by Razakar Fazlul Huq. The male persons were tortured and female persons were raped by Pakistan soldiers deployed in the camp.
The prosecution dropped the last charge during the case proceedings.