ZIA REGIME ‘STOPPED’ BRITISH JURISTS ENTERING BANGLADESH TO PROBE BANGABANDHU MURDER
British jurists, who set up the first enquiry into the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and four national leaders, were barred from entering Bangladesh in January of 1981.
General Ziaur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh Nationalist Party or BNP, was then the president of Bangladesh.
The Commission of Jurists aimed to investigate the circumstances which had “impeded the normal processes of law and justice from having taken their course in these cases”.
The report concludes that the processes of law and justice have not been permitted to take their course following the murders.
“It would appear that the government has duly been responsible for impeding their process. These impediments should be removed and law and justice should be allowed to take their course.”
Bangaldesh’s founding father and President Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed along with most of his family members on Aug 15 of 1975.
Among his children, Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, and Sheikh Rehana survived as they were in Europe at that time.
Four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Vice-president, Tajuddin Ahmed, first Prime Minister, M Mansur Ali, Prime Minister, and AHM Qamaruzzaman, Industries Minister– were shot dead during detention inside Dhaka Central Jail on Nov 3, 1975.
According to the report, the commission was set up amid concern felt in many quarters in Bangladesh, and in the international community, at the failure to bring their murderers to justice.
It was in response to an appeal made by the family of Bangabandhu and the other victims, as well as other supporters who held meetings in different parts of Britain, Europe and in Bangladesh, said the commission’s first press release issued on Sept 19, 1980.
A day before, the committee met in London and agreed to start the inquiry.
The aim was “to make its appraisal of the legal issues involved in order to determine action that may be initiated to bring those responsible for the commission of these grave crimes to justice”.
“Members of the Committee expect to visit Bangladesh shortly in this connection,” it said.
Sir Thomas Williams, QC MP, headed the commission, which also had Sean MacBride, former president of Amnesty International and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The others were Jeffrey Thomas, QC MP, and Aubrey Rose, who acted as secretary.
The Bangladesh High Commission in London received an application seeking visa for Jeffrey Thomas and his assistant, who planned to visit Bangladesh in January of 1981.
“That visit could not take place as visas were not issued for Mr Thomas and his assistant, no letter of refusal was ever sent to the commission or its secretary, and, despite a number of letters and requests to the High Commission, no letter has ever been received from the High Commission in relation to the proposed visit,” said the preliminary report.
Hasina wrote the foreward of the report.
“Unable to get satisfaction from the Bangladesh authorities, the families of the victims and their democratic minded supporters in Britain, determined that the matter must not be allowed to rest, persuaded a number of distinguished jurists to set up a commission to inquire into the murder of Bangabandhu and his family and of the four national leaders while under detention without trial in the Dacca Central Jail,” said the Awami League chief.
“Their names and reputations are a guarantee that the inquiry will conform to the highest standards of judicial propriety.”
The trial process of Bangabandhu’s murder started 21 years after the gruesome carnage, when the Awami League was elected to power in 1996.
The convicted killers
Five individuals convicted of murdering Bangabandhu were hanged in 2010.
They are Syed Faruque Rahman, Sultan Shahariar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, Mohiuddin Ahmed and AKM Mohiuddin.
Another, Abdul Aziz Pasha, who was hiding in Zimbabwe, died there in 2001, police say.
The authorities said they were not sure about the whereabouts of convict Risaldar Moslehuddin (Khan).
The other five are Abdur Rashid, Shariful Haque Dalim, M Rashed Chowdhury, AHMB Noor Chowdhury and Abdul Mazed.
Rashid had gone to Pakistan from Libya while Dalim was in Pakistan, Prime Minister Hasina had earlier said.
Four others are either in the US or Canada.
Hasina’s government has repeatedly said that it is trying to bring them back to the country.
Twelve army officers involved in the assassination had been rewarded with jobs in diplomatic missions abroad in 1977 when Ziaur Rahman came to power through a military coup.
AUGUST 16, 2016