sexta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2014

Bangladesh condemns extremists while others keep coming to South Asia

International Crimes Tribunal of Dhaka
Yesterday, one of the worse criminals of the XXI century was condemned to life imprisonment. His name is Delwar Hossain Sayedee, he is 74 years old and he was one of the leaders of the extremist party Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh. During the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, he committed brutal crimes against humanity. Being now accused of at least 20 crimes, the case went to Supreme Court and there he was proven guilty of:
  •     torture a leader of the Awami League, Mr Nurul Islam, and arson attack on his house;
  •     killing one and torching house in the village of Chitholia;
  •     killing one and torching 25 houses in the village of Umedpur;
  •     abduction and rape of 3 sisters of Parerhat Bazar;
  •     forcing 100 to 150 Hindus to convert to Islam in Parerhat and other villages.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a Razakar
Besides that, he was accused of many other crimes, as killing more 65 people, raping countless Hindu girls (many in Pakistani army camps), and torching civil houses in at least 17 other villages. Those charges lacked evidences for the judges. Mr Sayedee was known as “Delu Razakar”. Razakars, as Al-Badr’s and Al-Shams were paramilitary militias organized by the Pakistan Army to fight the freedom fighters in Bangladesh in 1971. These paramilitary forces, together with Pakistan Army, committed one of the biggest genocides of history, killing 3 million people (specially Hindus, other religious minorities, moderate Mulsims, Awami League party supporters and country intellectuals), provoking an exodus of 10 million refugees and the displacement of 30 million people million, and raping more than 200 thousand Bangladeshi women, from whom thousands of war babies were born. Genocidal mass rape was part of the military strategy and must be seen in this context: as General Tikka Khan (also known as the “Butcher of Bengal”) openly said "I will reduce this majority to a minority".

Mr Sayedee is not the first person to be condemned for crimes against humanity, for example Mr Abdul Quader Molla faced death sentence and was hanged to death on the 12th of December 2013. Next judicial case to be solved must be Azharul Islam’s, who was an Al-Badr commander and is charged “with two acts of genocide that left more than 1,200 people dead. The 61-year-old Jamaat assistant secretary general was also charged with torture, looting, arson, abduction, rape, mass killing and conspiracy to kill unarmed civilians in Rangpur”, reports the Daily Star.

Beautiful poster from 1971, saying that Hindus,
Christians, Buddhists and Muslims, all are Bengali

But now it is fair to ask: if those crimes were committed in 1971, why they are being judged only now? The problem was that during many years the Jamaat-e-Islami party was influential enough to prevent his criminal members to be judged. Only in 2009 – 38 years after the liberation war – the International Crimes Tribunal was set up, being supported by the Awami League government and large sectors of Bangladeshi society, many of them young people who were born after 1971, who gathered in huge numbers in the Shahbag area in Dhaka calling for justice. The Shahbag Movement was one of the biggest protests in History of moderate Muslims in a country with a Muslim majority. Although all the political parties tried to take credits for these manifestations, it is now clearer that the Shahbag Movement was spontaneously born within the civil society, in a non-partisan way.

However, we must not believe that Jamaat-e-Islami and other extremist groups are weak in Bangladesh. On the contrary, these parties are richer than others, being very well financed from abroad with donors in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar… Also, in the case of Jamaat, they are self-financed through key businesses they control in Bangladesh, such as banks, hospitals, universities, madrasas, charities and others. In fact, Jamaat-e-Islami called for hartal (strike) yesterday and Sunday, in order to protest the condemnation of Mr Sayedee. Yesterday, some clashes between Islami Chhatra Shibir (Jamaat-e-Islami’s youth political wing) and the police were registered.
Al-Zawahiri announced in September 2014 a new Al-Qaeda chapter in South Asia
Al-Qaeda in South Asia
Justice is being made and Bangladesh is putting an end to impunity, which was undermining rule of law. This is good news. We just have to hope that when other party comes to power no amnesty must be given to such criminals. But while Bangladesh is putting its terrorists into jail, others are coming to South Asia. Al-Qaeda’s leader, Mr Al-Zawahiri, announced this month that Al-Qaeda is opening a new chapter in South Asia. Besides Al-Qaeda’s support of the Taliban in Afghanistan, experts admit that India will be the first priority for this terrorist network and Myanmar and Bangladesh are probably the following targets.

India’s Prime-Minister Mr Narendra Modi, told CNN today that Al-Qaeda will fail in India. He said “If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will not want anything bad for India”. As Indian elections were won by the Hindu-Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many political analysts feared that discrimination laws and practices would flourish in the country, marginalizing minorities and stablishing 1st and 2nd class citizens. But those fears were not materialized so far and we must give this government the benefit of the doubt and Mr Modi first steps in government seamed good. For example, after visiting neighbouring countries, Mr Modi chose Japan as the first country to visit, where he signed with Japan’s Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe the Tokyo Declaration for India, to foster Indo-Japanese cooperation in domains as important as Defence, Maritime Security, Cyber Security, Economic and Technologic Partnership.
Tokio: Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi with Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
Even if Indian Muslims are a minority (around 14,6%), India is also the 3rd country in the world with more Muslims (177 million), next to Indonesia (204 million) and Pakistan (178 million). Most of the Muslims in India are known as being quite moderate. But one of the most significant clashes between Muslims and Hindus happened during the tragic 2002 Gujarat riots, when Mr Modi was Gujarat’s Chief Minister. The challenge is simple in theory and hard but possible in practice. If Muslims in India feel they are being unfairly treated, they may become easy targets for jihadi recruiters. But if Mr Modi choses the right words and his government choses the right actions to integrate Muslim communities in India, he will succeed.

Most of Indian Muslims are proud Indian, they want democracy and a pacific secular State. We should resist the prejudice of seeing in each Muslim a potential terrorist. That is simply not fair. But we must also recognize evidences, and reality is that Al-Qaeda terrorists are coming to fight and bomb in South Asia. Al-Qaeda, as ISIS and other Islamic terrorist associations, uses a misinterpretation of Islam for political purposes. South Asian politicians understand that their best allies against Islamic terrorist groups are moderate Muslims themselves. They are the ones who ultimately will expose this fraud and reject this foreign, far-away, backwards ideology of fear. And India concretely has a long experience of both defending against terrorist groups as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other ISI (Pakistan Secret Services) supported groups, as well of preventing communist attacks by the Naxalite guerrilla groups. With Al-Qaeda opening a new chapter in South Asia, the free world should support India in its fight against terrorism.
Dhaka: Shahbag protests in 2013, supporting the condemnation of 1971 war criminals
To sum up

While extremists are finally being put in jail in Bangladesh, others are coming to South Asia. Terrorism never sleeps and this is our wake-up call: those who love freedom and liberty should be vigilant and don’t let these extremists gain ground anywhere.

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