This is the first part of the judgement concerning the trial of Ghulam Azam (case no 6 of 2011) given on 15 July 2013.
The remaining sections of the judgement can be found here:
To see part two - dealing with charges relating to conspiracy and planning
To see part three - dealing with charge relating to incitement
The remaining sections of the judgement can be found here:
To see part two - dealing with charges relating to conspiracy and planning
To see part three - dealing with charge relating to incitement
To see part four - dealing with charge relating to complicity
To see part five - dealing with charges relating to murder
To see part six - dealing with command control and superior responsibility
To see part seven - dealing with sentence
The judgement was given by Mr. Justice A.T.M. Fazle Kabir, Chairman; Mr. Justice Jahangir Hossain, Member; Mr. Justice Anwarul Haque, Member
To see part six - dealing with command control and superior responsibility
To see part seven - dealing with sentence
The judgement was given by Mr. Justice A.T.M. Fazle Kabir, Chairman; Mr. Justice Jahangir Hossain, Member; Mr. Justice Anwarul Haque, Member
This part has sections on: Introduction; Commencement of Proceedings; Historical Background; Brief Account of Accused; Jurisdiction of tribunal; Comparison with other international statutes; Procedural witnesses; Witnesses adduced; Background to 1971; Summary of Prosecution Argument; Argument of Defence; Reply of prosecution to defense arguments; Discussion and Decision
1. This Tribunal (ICT-1) has been lawfully constituted as a domestic judicial forum for the purpose of holding trials relating to internationally recognised crimes, such as, offences of planning, incitement, conspiracy and complicity committed during the War of Liberation in 1971. Bangladesh Parliament enacted the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act in 1973 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) to provide for the detention, prosecution and punishment of persons for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under International law, committed in the territory of Bangladesh during the War of Liberation, particularly between 25 March to 16 December, 1971.
2. On behalf of both the parties the learned prosecutors and defence counsels raised some legal issues and factual aspects relating to superior responsibility of the accused, historical background of War of Liberation, characterization of international crimes, commencement of proceedings, charges framed, and the laws applicable to the case for the purpose of determining criminal liability of the accused.
II. Commencement of proceedings:-
3. On 12.12.2011, the learned Chief Prosecutor filed formal charge along with documents in the Tribunal as required under section 9(1) of the Act against accused Professor Ghulam Azam. On perusal of the formal charge, it was found not properly arranged and classified and thus it was returned to the learned Chief Prosecutor on 26.12.2011 with a direction to resubmit the same afresh in a systematic form by 05.01.2012. The prosecution as per direction of the Tribunal resubmitted formal charge in time. On perusal of the formal charge along with the documents submitted by the prosecution, cognizance of offences specified in sections 3(2), 4(1) and 4(2) of the Act was taken on 09.01.2012 against Professor Ghulam Azam. On that date, Mr. Abdur Razzak, the learned Senior counsel appearing on behalf of accused Professor Ghulam Azam submitted for not to issue any process against the accused, rather he took responsibility to produce the accused before the Tribunal on the date fixed. As per direction of the Tribunal, accused Professor Ghulam Azam was produced before this Tribunal on 11.01.2012 with an application seeking bail for him. The prayer for bail was rejected and the accused was taken to custody and sent him to Dhaka Central Jail with a direction to provide necessary medical treatment considering his oldage complications. Since then, the accused has been staying in prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital, the highest grade hospital available in Bangladesh. On the prayer of the accused, two defence lawyers were permitted to consult with him inside the central jail on 04.02.2012, 11.02.2012, 18.02.2012 and 21.04.2012 as privileged communications for preparing defence case. On the prayer of the accused, the Jail Authority was also directed to allow home cooked food to the accused in the jail hospital. After hearing the learned lawyers of both the parties and on perusal of the formal charge and documents, this Tribunal framed charges against accused Professor Ghulam Azam on 13.05.2012 under sections 3(2), 3(2)(a), 4(1) and 4(2) of the Act which are punishable under section 20(2) of the Act. The charges framed were read over and explained to the accused on dock to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed to have fair justice and thus the trial started. III.
4. In 1971, during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, atrocities in a large scale, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide were committed by Pakistani forces, auxiliary forces and their associates which resulted the birth of Bangladesh as an independent country. It was estimated that during nine month long war, about three million people were killed, nearly a quarter million women were raped, and over 10 million people were deported to India causing brutal persecution upon them.
5. In August, 1947, the partition of British India based on two-nation theory, gave birth to two new states, one a secular state named India and the other the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The two-nation theory was propositioned on the basis that India will be for Hindus while Pakistan will be a state for the Muslims. This theory culminated into the creation of Pakistan which was comprised of two geographically and culturally separate areas to the east and the west of India. The western zone was eventually named West Pakistan and the eastern zone was named East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh.
6. Ever since the creation of Pakistan, the Pakistan Government adopted discriminatory policies backed by its bureaucracy and Army to rule over the people of East Pakistan that caused great disparity in every field including, education, welfare, health, armed services, civil bureaucracy, economic and social developments. One of the first patently discriminatory and undemocratic policies of the Government of Pakistan was manifested when in 1952 the Pakistani authorities attempted to impose Urdu as the only State language of Pakistan ignoring Bangla, the language of the majority population of Pakistan. The people of the then East Pakistan started movement to get Bangla recognised as a state language thus marking the beginning of language movement that eventually turned to the movement for greater autonomy and self-determination and eventually independence. Numerous Bangalees sacrificed their lives to realise Bangla as a state language. Since then, the people of East Pakistan started thinking of their own emancipation and started a political movement for getting provincial autonomy for East Pakistan.
7. In the general election of 1970, the Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won 167 seats out of 300 seats of the National Assembly of Pakistan and thus became the majority party of Pakistan. Of the 300 seats, 169 were allocated to East Pakistan of which Awami League won 167 demonstrating an absolute majority in the Parliament. Despite this overwhelming majority, Pakistan government did not hand over power to the leader of the majority party as democratic norms required. As a result, movement started in this part of Pakistan and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his historic speech of 7th March, 1971 called on the people of Bangladesh to strive for independence if people’s verdict is not respected and power is not handed over to the leader of the majority party. On 26th March, following the onslaught of “Operation Search Light” by the Pakistani military on 25th March, Bangabandhu declared Bangladesh independent immediately before he was arrested by the Pakistani authorities.
8. With this declaration of independence, the war to liberate Bangladesh from the occupation of Pakistan military began that ended on 16th of December, 1971 with the surrender of all Pakistani military personnel present in Bangladesh before the Joint Indian and Bangladeshi forces in Dhaka. In the War of Liberation that ensued, all people of East Pakistan wholeheartedly supported and participated in the call to free Bangladesh but a small number of Bangalees, Biharis, other pro-Pakistanis, as well as members of a number of different religion-based political parties joined and/or collaborated with the Pakistan military to actively oppose the creation of independent Bangladesh. Except those who opposed, Hindu communities like others in Bangladesh, supported the Liberation War which in fact drew particular wrath of the Pakistani military and their local collaborators, who perceived them as pro-Indian and made them targets of attack, persecution, extermination and deportation as members belonging to a religious group.
9. As a result, 3 million (thirty lakh) people were killed, more then 2(two) lakh women raped, about 10 million (one crore) people deported to India as refugees and million others were internally displaced. It also saw unprecedented destruction of properties all over Bangladesh.
10. To prosecute their policy of occupation and repression, and in order to crash the aspiration of the freedom-loving people of an independent Bangladesh, the Pakistan government and the military set up number of auxiliary forces such as the Razakars, the Al-Badr, the Al-Shams, the Peace Committee etc, essentially to collaborate with the military in identifying and eliminating - all those who were perceived to be sympathized with the liberation of Bangladesh, individuals belonging to minority religious groups especially the Hindus, political groups belonging to Awami League and other pro-Independence political parties, Bangalee intellectuals and civilian population of Bangladesh. The truth about the nature and extent of the atrocities and crimes perpetrated during the period by the Pakistani military and their allies became known to the wider world through independent reports by the foreign journalists and dispatches sent home by the diplomatic community in Dhaka.
11. The road to freedom for the people of Bangladesh was arduous and torturous, smeared with blood, toil and sacrifices. In the contemporary world history, perhaps no nation paid as dearly as the Bangalees did for their emancipation.
12. Pursuant to Bangabandhu’s Declaration of Independence, a provisional government-in-exile was formed on April 17, 1971 in Mujibnagar with Bangabandhu as the President of Bangladesh. In his absence, Syed Nazrul Islam was the Acting President and Tajuddin Ahmed was the Prime Minister who coordinated the operations to expel the occupying Pakistani forces and to liberate Bangladesh.
13. In order to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes committed in 1971, the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 was promulgated. However, no Tribunal was set up and no trial took place under the Act until the government established this International Crimes Tribunal on 25th of March 2010.
IV. Brief account of the accused:-14. Accused Professor Ghulam Azam was born on 07.11.1922 at village birgaon, police station – Nabinagar, District-Brahmanbaria. In his early days, he studied in Madrassa and later obtained Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Dhaka in 1950. He served as a Professor in Rangpur Carmichael College from 1950 to 1955. He joined Jamaat-e-Islami in 1954 and was secretary of that party from 1957 to 1960 and held the post of ‘Ameer’ (Head) of the said party from 1969 to 1971.
15. At the time of the War of Liberation in 1971 under the leadership of the accused, all the subordinate leaders and workers of Jammat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha actively opposed the Liberation movement. At that time Jamaat-e-Islami itself acted as an auxiliary force under the Pakistan Armed forces. The accused as the ‘Ameer’ of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, not only controlled the organizational frame work of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Sangha but also played the pivotal role in forming santi Committee, Razakars, Al-Badr, Al-shams, etc., to collaborate Pakistani occupation forces while Bangalee people were fighting for liberation, at that time the accused participated in a sham election and was elected uncontested as a Member of National Assembly from District Tangail in 1971. While he realized that Bangladesh was going to be liberated soon, then he left for Pakistan on 22nd November, 1971. After Liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971, he formed a Committee named “Purbo Pakistan Punoruddhar Committee” (East Pakistan Restoration Committee) as a part of his campaign in the 1st part of 1972. As a leader of the committee 10 upto March 1973, he tried to create public opinion against Bangladesh in the Islamic Countries of the Middle East and campaigned internationally against recognising Bangladesh as an independent and Sovereign state. He left Pakistan for London in the middle of 1973 and set up the head office of the “Purbo Pakistan Punoruddhar Committee” there. He also published a weekly newspaper named “Sonar Bangla” in London which propagated against independent Bangladesh. His Citizenship was cancelled by the Bangnaldesh Government on 18 April, 1973. He visited Saudi Arabia in March, 1975 and met king Foisal where he also canvassed against Bangladesh. He told the king that Hindus had captured East Pakistan, Holy Qurans had been burnt, mosques had been destroyed and converted into Mandirs (prayer place) and many Muslims had been killed. On the basis of such propaganda, he collected funds from Middle East in the name of re-establishing mosques and Madrassas. Following the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he came back to Bangladesh on 11 August, 1978 with a Pakistani passport and since then he has been residing in this country. He got back his citizenship through court and resumed the office of ‘Ameer’ of Jamaat-e-Islami and he continued till Motiur Rahman Nizami was elected Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami.
V. Jurisdiction of the Tribunal:-
16. The International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 has empowered the Tribunal to prosecute and punish not only the armed forces but also the perpetrators who belonged to auxiliary forces or who committed the offence as an individual or a group of individuals and no where in the Act it has been said that without prosecuting the armed forces (Pakistani) an individual or group of individuals having any other capacity specified in section 3(1) of the Act cannot be prosecuted. Rather it is manifested in section 3(1) that even any person if he is prima facie found criminally responsible for the offences specified in section 3(2) of the Act can be brought to justice. Moreover, the provisions of section 4(1) and 4(2) are the guiding principles for fixing up liability of a person or in the capacity of superior command responsibility, if any offences committed specified in section 3(2) of the Act. Thus, the Tribunals set up under the Act are absolutely domestic Tribunals but empowered to try internationally recognized crimes committed in violation of customary international law.
VI. Consistency of ICT Act, 1973 with other statutes on international Crimes:-
17. Section 3(2)(a) of International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 ( as amended in 2009) defines the crimes against Humanity in the following manner: “Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, abduction, confinement, torture, rape or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population or persecutions on political, racial, ethnic or religions grounds, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated;”
18. Many have expressed their concern by the degree to which the above definition of ‘Crimes against Humanity’ under the Act differs from international standards. It may be stated that ‘international standard’ itself is a fluid concept, it changes with time and requirement through a mechanism of progressive development of law. Therefore, one can look at the concept of ‘standard’ from entirely a technical perspective; whereas, others can see it as a matter of inherent spirit.
19. Looking at the contemporary standards of definition of ‘Crimes against Humanity’ in various statutes on international crimes, the first observation can be made is that there is no ‘consistency’ among definitions. The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1993 (ICTY Statute), the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, 1994 (ICTR Statute), the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998 (Rome Statute) or the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, 2002 (Sierra Leon Statute) although share common spirit, do differ in legal technical nitty-gritty.
VII. The Rome Statute: Article-7
Crimes against humanity
20. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; (i) Enforced disappearance of persons; (j) The crime of apartheid; (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
21. The ICTR Article 3: Crimes against Humanity The international Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population on national, political, ethnic, racial or religious grounds: (a) Murder (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation; (e) Imprisonment; (f) Torture; (g) Rape; (h) Persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; (i) Other inhumane acts.
22. THE ICTY. ARTICLE 5 The International Criminal Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons responsible for the following crimes when committed in armed conflict, whether international or internal in character, and directed against any civilian population: (a) murder; (b) extermination; (c) enslavement; (d) deportation; (e) imprisonment; (f) torture (g) rape (h) persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; (i) other inhumane acts.
23. ICT BD 3. (1) A Tribunal shall have the power to try and punish any individual or group of individuals, or any member of any armed, defence or auxiliary forces, irrespective of his nationality, who commits or has committed, in the territory of Bangladesh , whether before or after the commencement of this Act, any of the crimes mentioned in sub-section (2). (a) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, abduction, confinement, torture, rape or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population or persecutions on political, racial, ethnic or religious grounds, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated;.
Elements differ in the different statutes.
24. The ICTY requires the crime to be taken place in an armed conflict, be it international or national. The statute does not require the crime to be committed as a part of widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population, nor it requires that the crime to be perpetrated on discriminatory grounds.
25. Case laws: In February 1995, the Prosecutor of the ICTY indicted Dusko Tadic for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Tadic challenged the ICTY’s jurisdiction over crimes against Humanity, Tadic argued that the definition of crimes against humanity did not conform to contemporary International law, which required such crimes to be committed in an international armed conflict. In its decision on the Defense Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction (“Tadic Decision on Jurisdiction”), the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY rejected this argument by affirming that crimes against humanity can even be committed in peacetime: the Trial Chamber of the ICTY (“ICTY Trial Chamber”) reaffirmed that although Article 5 of the ICTY statute required a nexus with armed conflict, such a requirement is unnecessary under international law. The ICTY Trial Chamber also noted that Article 5 required crimes against humanity to be committed under a second set of circumstances, that is, the acts must be “directed against any civilian population. The ICTY Trial Chamber interpreted the term “ANY CIVILIAN POPULATION “as having three elements. First, the civilian population must be “specifically identified as a group by the perpetrators of these acts. Although the ICTY Trial Chamber does not articulate the bases for such as identification, this interpretation suggests that the ICTY Trial Chamber accepted the need for a discriminatory motive. The other two components raised by the ICTY Trial Chamber are that the crimes must be “organized and systematic” and “of a certain scale and gravity”. The ICTY Trial Chamber’s approach in reading these elements into the meaning of “any civilian population” is a novel one. The ICTY Trial Chamber also appeared to require both elements to be present, rather than accepting them as alternative conditions.
26. However, customary international humanitarian law requires that the attack to be either systematic or widespread. Rome statute and the ICTR also require these two elements to be alternatively present.
27. Next, the ICTY Trial Chamber noted that a crime against humanity must be widespread or demonstrate a systematic character. However, as long as there is a link with the widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, a single act could qualify as a crime against humanity. As such, an individual committing a crime against a single victim or a limited number of victims might be recognized as guilty of a crime against humanity if his acts were part of the specified context identified above.
28. So it appears that though the ICTY statute requires the crime to be taken place in an armed conflict, the tribunal holds that armed conflict is not necessary. And though the statute didn’t require the crime to be taken place as a part of widespread or systematic attack, the tribunal holds that the term any civilian population instead of any civilian people indicates that the crime to be taken place as a part of widespread or systematic attack on civilian population. Court’s language the “population” element is intended to imply crimes of a collective nature and thus exclude single or isolated acts.Thus the emphasis is not on the individual victim but rather on the collective, the individual being victimized not because of his individual attributes but rather because of his membership of a targeted civilian population. This has been interpreted to mean, as elaborated below, that the acts must occur on a widespread or systematic basis that there must be some form of a governmental, organizational or group policy to commit these acts and that the perpetrator must know of the context within which his actions are taken, as well as the requirement that the actions be taken on discriminatory grounds.
29. The above paragraph and the structure of the opinion made it clear that the ICTY Trial Chamber viewed the term “population” as having three essential components: “widespread or systematic” commission of the acts that constitute crimes against humanity; a discriminatory motive for those acts; and a governmental, organizational, or group policy to commit those acts. Furthermore, the ICTY Trial Chamber held that if a population was “predominantly” civilian, then the presence of a few non-civilians would not defeat this characterization. The Tadic Judgment did not elaborate on how to construe “ Widespread” or “ Systematic.” But customary IHL mandates that either systematic or widespread is enough to qualify a crime to be a crime against humanity.
30. Law in the international crimes tribunal Bangladesh: (1) existence of armed conflict is not necessary though it is admitted that there was an armed conflict in 1971. (2) There is no requirement of discriminatory element except in the case of persecution. The plethora of international case law suggests that “ law in this area is mixed”. But as our statute clearly mentioned the discriminatory element for the act of persecution, the proper law should be to impose the existence of discriminatory elements only for persecution and not for the other acts mentioned in section 3(2)(a). (3) Widespread or systematic. Our law doesn’t require the attack to be part of a widespread or systematic attack. But as discussed in Tadic case by ICTY the word civilian population indicates that the attack to be a part of widespread or systematic attack. It is now well-settled that the attack in Bangladesh in 1971 was widespread and systematic in nature. Tadic case elaboratadely discussed what constitutes an attack widespread and systematic. (4) The criterion of “widespread” describes a quantitative element. The widespread nature of the attack can arise from the number of victims or its extension over a broad geographic area. The criterion of a “Systematic” attack is qualitative in nature. It refers to the organized nature of the committed acts of violence and thus serves to exclude isolated acts from the notion of crimes against humanity. Earlier case law of the ad hoc Tribunals required that the individual act follow a predetermined plan or policy. The Appeals Chamber of the Yugoslavia Tribunal has now distanced itself from such a requirement. Although attacks on a civilian population will typically follow some form of predetermined plan, this does not make the existence of a plan or policy an element of the crime. Under customary international law, crimes against humanity do not call for a “policy element”. However, Article 7(2) (a) of the ICC Statute requires that the attack on a civilian population be carried out “pursuant to or in furtherance of State or organizational policy to commit such attack.”
31. Summary: The International Crimes Tribunals, Act, 1973, Bangladesh defines crimes against humanity in the following manner: “3.(1) A Tribunal shall have the power to try and punish any individual or group of individuals, or any member of any armed, defence or auxiliary forces, irrespective of his nationality, who commits or has committed, in the territory of Bangladesh , whether before or after the commencement of this Act, any of the crimes mentioned in sub-section(2). 21 (a) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, abduction, confinement , torture, rape or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population or persecutions on political, racial, ethnic or religious grounds, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated;”
32. To our understanding the proper construction of this section should be- (1) Crime against humanity can be committed even in peace time; existence of armed conflict is , by definition, not mandatory. Neither in the preamble nor in the jurisdiction sections of the Act was it mentioned that crime against humanity requires the existence of an armed conflict. Indiscriminate attack on civilian population based on their political, racial, ethnic or religious identity can be termed as crime against humanity even if it takes place after 1971. For example, minority oppression in 2001 was a pure example of crime against humanity. However, no one denies the fact that there was an armed conflict in 1971. (2) Though the statute of the tribunal doesn’t explicitly requires the attack to be a part of systematic or widespread attack against the civilians, the very term “ any civilian population” instead of civilian people indicates the plurality of the attack and thus implies that the attack to be part of a systematic or widespread attack against civilian (Tadic case for references). However the term ‘ systematic and widespread’ is a disjunctive, rather than cumulative requirement. The Rome statute and the ICTR statute provide that the attack must be part of a systematic or widespread attack against civilians. That means the existence of either systematic or widespread attack is enough to qualify crime against humanity. (3) “Widespread” refers to the large-scale nature of the attack which is primarily reflected in the number of victims. “Systematic” refers to the organized nature of the acts of violence and the “ non-accidental repetition of similar criminal conduct on a regular basis.” Widespread is quantitative while systematic is qualitative. (4) The “population” element is intended to imply crimes of a collective nature and thus exclude single or isolated acts. Thus, the emphasis is not on the individual victim but rather on the collective, the individual being victimized not because of his individual attributes but rather because of his membership of a targeted civilian population. This has been interpreted to mean that the acts must occur on a large scale basis (widespread) or, that there must be some form of a governmental, organizational or group policy to commit these acts (systematic, targeted) and that the perpetrator must know of the context within which his actions are taken (knowledge and intent), and finally that attack must be committed on discriminatory grounds in case of persecution. (5) The attack must be directed against any civilian population. The term “civilian population” must be interpreted broadly and refers to a population that is predominantly civilian in nature. A population may qualify as “civilian” even if non-civilians are among it, as long as it is predominantly civilian. The presence within a population of members of armed resistance groups, or former combatants, who have laid down their arms, does not as such alter its civilian nature. After making comparative analysis of the definitions provided for crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, genocide and war crimes under section 3(2)(a), (b) (c)(d) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 those are found to be fairly consistent with the manner in which these terms are defined under recent statutes for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Court (ICC) Rome Statute, and the statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), it can be safely said that ICT Act of 1973, legislation with its amendments upto 2013 provides a system which broadly and fairly compatible with current international standards.
VIII. Procedural History:
33. On the basis of a complaint, registered at serial no. 5 of the Complaint Register dated 01.08.2010, the Investigation Agency established under the Act completed investigation of the case and the investigation officer submitted report to the learned Chief Prosecutor. On perusal of the investigation report, statement of witnesses and the documents collected during investigation, the prosecutors prepared the Formal Charge and submitted the same on 12.12.2011 in the office of the Tribunal. Upon receipt of the Formal charge, the Tribunal fixed 26.12.2011 for taking cognizance of offence. On perusal of the Formal charge, it was found that the proposed charges were not classified and not in form, then for the ends of justice, it was returned to the prosecution for resubmitting the same in a systemic form after doing the needful and it was resubmitted on 05.01.2012 before this Tribunal. Upon perusal of the Formal charge and the documents annexed therewith, this Tribunal took cognizance of offence on 09.01.2012 against accused Professor Ghulam Azam for the offences specified under section 3(2) and 3(2)(a) read with section 4(1) and 4(2) of the Act. Accused was directed to appear before the Tribunal on 11.01.2012, on that date the accused was sent to custody rejecting his prayer for bail. Since then the accused has been staying in the Prisoncell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital, Dhaka by the order of the Tribunal in order to provide him the best treatment available in Bangladesh, and upon a prayer of the accused he was supplied home cooked food subject to some ordinary conditions. The accused filed several bail applications before the Tribunal and those applications were disposed of in accordance with law. Sometimes the accused could not be produced before the Tribunal due to his long ailment, in that event, trial continued in presence of his counsel as per provision of Rule-43A of the Rules of Procedure, 2010 (hereinafter referred to as “The ROP”). On several occasions, the engaged counsels of the accused were given permission to meet the accused inside the prison cell as 25 privileged communications. On the prayer of the accused, this Tribunal also directed jail authority to supply some religious books, namely (1) the Holy Quran translated in Bangla, (2) Biography of Prophet (PLIBH) (3) Hadish Collection and (4) Book of DUA to the accused in Prison cell for reading the same.
Special feature of laws and rules applicable to trial procedure:-
34. The proceedings before this Tribunal shall be guided by the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 and the Rules of Procedure, 2010 (ROP) formulated by the Tribunal under the powers given in section 22 of the Act. Section 23 of the Act prohibits the applicability of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1898 and the Evidence Act, 1872. The Tribunal is authorized to take into its judicial notice of facts of common knowledge and some official documents which are not needed to be proved by adducing evidence (section 19(3) and (4) of the Act). The Tribunal may admit any evidence without observing formality, such as reports, photographs , newspapers, books, films, tape recordings and other materials which appear to have probative value( section -19(1) of the Act). The Tribunal shall have discreation to consider hearsay evidence too by weighing its probative value (Rule-56(2)). The defence shall have right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses on his credibility and to take contradiction of the evidence given by him (Rule -53(ii). The accused deserves right to conduct his own case or to have assistance of his counsel (section-17 of the Act). The Tribunal may release an accused on bail subject to conditions as imposed by it (Rule- 34(3)). The Tribunal may, as and when necessary, direct the concerned authorities of the Government to ensure protection, privacy, and well-being of the witnesses and victims (Rule-58-A).
IX. Witnesses adduced by the Parties:- 35. The prosecution submitted a list of 88 witnesses along with Formal Charge while the defence submitted a voluminous list of 2939 witnesses for obvious reasons which need not be expressly disclosed. At the time of trial, the prosecution examined only 16 witnesses of whom 7 were seizure list witnesses, 8 were witnesses of occurrence and one was investigation officer. On the other hand, this Tribunal by exercising power under Rule – 51A(2) of the ROP, allowed the defence to examine maximum number of 12 witnesses out of listed 2939 witnesses.
36. The defence examined only one witness who is one of the sons of the accused. The defence took ten working days to complete the examination in chief of DW.1, while the prosecution took five working days to complete cross-examination of DW.1. The defence failed to produce further witnesses in two consecutive dates and examination of further D.W. was closed for want of defence witness.
37. It may be mentioned here that International Criminal Tribunal of Yougoslavia (ICTY) also enjoys the same right to fix up number of defence witness as per provisions of its Rules of Procedure. The way of adjudicating charges found against the accused.
38. We perused the formal charge, documents and the statement of witnesses upon which the prosecution intended to rely upon and carefully considered the submissions of the learned lawyers of both the parties on charge matter. Having considered all the documents, we found sufficient ground to presume that the accused has committed offences described under sections- 3(2), 3(2)(a), 4(1) and 4(2) of the Act and accordingly as many as five broad charges including 61 incidents were framed against accused Professor Ghulam Azam on 13.05.2012 which were read over and explained to him to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed to have fair justice.
39. Defence case The defence case, as it appears from the submissions and documents filed by the defence, is that Ghulam Azam was born in 1922 at Laxmibazar, Dhaka. In his early days, he studied in Madrassa and later obtained Master’s degree in political science from the University of Dhaka in 1950. Being one of the student leaders, he actively participated in the Language Movement during his student life. He served as a professor of political science in Rangpur Carmichael College from 1950 to 1955. He joined the Jamaat-e- Islami in 1954 and ultimately he was elected as Ameer (Head) of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami in 1969. He was the Ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and one of the members of central Peace Committee during the War of Liberation in 1971, but he had no command or control over the alleged peace committees, Razakars, Al-shams and Al-Mujaheeds and he never directed them to commit atrocities in 1971. Therefore, he is not responsible for the activities of Pakistan forces and their collaborators during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh. All the accused’s actions, statements, speeches and meetings with the Pakistani rulers during 1971 were made only to protect soliditary of Pakistan and to implement its ideology among the people. He did nothing against the War of Liberation of Bangladesh. He is innocent.
40. The incidents took place about 41/42 years back in 1971 and as such memory of live witnesses may have been faded as a result discrepancy may have occurred in their versions made in the court. The case before us depends mostly on documentary evidence which claims that the accused had superior responsibility by whose order or direction his subordinates committed atrocities all over the country or he did not take step to prevent such crimes. Despite the undisputed atrocities of the crimes committed during the War of Liberation in 1971 by the Pakistani forces in collaboration with local perpetrators guided by Civilian Leaders like accused Professor Ghulam Azam, we require to examine the facts constituting offences on the basis of evidence on record, keeping in mind that the accused is resumed to be innocent.
41. It should be borne in mind that the alleged incidents took place about 42 years back in 1971 and as such memory of live witnesses may have been faded and some documentary evidence may have been destroyed due to long passage of time. Therefore, in case like one in our hand involving adjudication of charges for the offences of crime against humanity, we are to depend upon (i) facts of common knowledge (ii) documentary evidence (iii) reporting of newspaper , books, etc. having probative value (iv) relevancy of circumstantial evidence (v) evaluation of oral evidence (vi) determination of political and religions status of the accused and whether he had hierarchy over all organs of Jamaat-e-Islami as civilian superior responsibility (vii) the jurisprudence evolved on the issues in the foreign Tribunals dealing with international crimes and (viii) whether the accused had any link with the top executives of the government of Pakistan and what was the status and role of the accused in the commission of offences charged.
42. The accused has been charged with the offences of planning, conspiracy, incitement, complicity and murder, etc. specified under section 3(2) of the Act which were committed in violation of customary international law and thus, this Tribunal shall not be precluded from borrowing guidance from the modern jurisprudence as to offences mentioned above.
X. Backdrop and context of the War of Liberation43. The backdrop and context of the commission of untold barbaric atrocities in 1971, during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh is the out come of oppression and disparity between Bangalee nation and the Pakistani Government that pushed the Bangalee nation for self determination and eventually for freedom and emancipation. The War of Liberation started following the operation searchlight in the night following 25 March, 1971 and lasted till 16 December 1971 when Pakistani occupation forces surrendered. The Pakistani armed forces in order to implement their organizational policy and plan they created some paralleled forces namely, Razakar Bahini, Al-Badr Bahini, Al-Shams, and Peace Committee as auxiliary forces which provided supports, assistance, and substantially contributed and also physically participated in the horrendous atrocities in the territory of Bangladesh. It is the fact of common knowledge that thousands of incidents happened throughout the country as a part of organised and planned attack. Target was pro-liberation Bangalee civilian population, Hindu Community, pro-Liberation political groups, freedomfighters and finally the intellectuals of the country.
44. The charges against the accused person arose for the reasons of holding superior position and responsibility as to liability for crimes and also a particular event of murder constituting the crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971.
45. In determining culpability of the accused for the commission of offences for which he has been charged, we are to adjudicate the fundamental issues such as:- (I) whether the accused as a civilian had superior responsibility during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, (II) whether the accused had link and complicity with the Executives of the Pakistani Government and thereby exercising superior power and position substantially contributed and facilitated the offences committed during Liberation War, and (III) whether the accused actively contributed in killing with one Siru Mia and 37 others which falls within the purview of crimes against humanity. We always remind that the burden of proving charge lies upon the prosecution and mere failure to prove defence plea shall not render the accused guilty. Before going into discussion of the evidence on record, we consider if convenient to address legal issues regarding charges framed which were agitated at the time of summing up the arguments by the learned lawyers of both the parties.
XI. Summing up the prosecution case by the prosecutors.
46. Mr. Ziad-Al-Malum with Mr. Sultan Mahmud, the learned prosecutors submit that only five broad charges having total 61 counts of conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity and murder and torture relating to crimes against humanity, genocide and other crimes specified in section 3(2) of the Act were framed against accused Professor Ghulam Azam who by exercising superior responsibility committed aforesaid crimes in all over Bangladesh during the War of Liberation in 1971. It is contended that admittedly the accused was the Ameer of East Pakistan Jammat-e-Islami under whose direct control and supervision the subordinate organs of Jamaat-e-Islami, namely, Razakar Bahini, Al-badr, Al-shams and peace committee acted as auxiliary forces in committing atrocities all over Bangladesh in 1971 and he did not take measure to prevent the commission of such crimes and thereby the accused is liable for the charge of superior responsibility under section 4(2) of the Act. It is further contended that prosecution by oral and documentary evidence have successfully proved superior status of the accused who had actual and constructive control over the subordinate organs of Jamaat-e-Islami but he did not prevent those regimental organizations from committing crimes as specified in section 3(2) of the Act. Lastly, the learned prosecutors have contended that it has been well proved by evidence that the accused being a defacto civil administrator conspired with the Pakistani occupation leaders several times and in a planned way made incited speeches provocating his subordinates to commit crimes against humanity and genocide with intent to destroy Bangalee nationals in whole or in part by killing members of that group specified under section 3(2) of the Act and as such the accused is principally liable for the crimes charged with.
XII. Summing up of defence case by the counsels.
47. Mr. Abdur Razzaq, the learned senior counsel with Mr. Mizanul Islam and Mr. Imran Siddique, in course of summing up the defence case, have taken pain in raising some pertinent legal issues with reference to some decisions passed by international Tribunals. It is argued that the prosecution has failed to produce any document to show that any agreement for conspiracy and planning was reached between the accused person and any other person to commit crimes under section 3(2) of the Act and also failed to prove accused’s genocidal intent to commit the same. It is argued that the statement and speeches of the accused do not amount to incitement to commit genocide under customary international laws. Moreover, accused did not say anything against any protected group under Genocide Convention, 1948. It is contended that to prove offences of crime against humanity and genocide, nexus requirement is necessary but it is hopelessly absent in this case. It is argued that the charges framed against the accused are vague and defective and no notice of crimes was given to the accused as required in section 16 (1)(c) of the Act,. It is contended that unexplained delay of 40 years to bring the prosecution has made the case highly doubtful. Lastly, it is contended that accused Professor Ghulam Azam was a political leader who had no civil superior responsibility in the administration of Pakistan and the prosecution could not establish relationship of the accused with the alleged perpetrators as his subordinates and as such he cannot be held liable under section 4(2) of the Act.
XIII. Reply of prosecution to the argument made by the defence.
48. Mr. Syed Haider Ali with Ms. Tureen Afroz, the learned prosecutors replied to those legal points raised by the defence. In replying to delay in prosecution, Mr. Syed Haider Ali submits that there is no limitation in bringing criminal prosecution particularly when it relates to the international crimes committed in violation of customary international laws. Moreover, the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act was enacted in 1973, but after assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on 15 August 1975, the process was halted and even Collaborators Order, 1972 was repealed on 31.12.1975. There was no favourable situation and strong political will to prosecute the offences under the Act, 1973. The present government under a strong political will established the Tribunal on 25 March 2010 for the first time after 37 years of the Act enacted. This history of common knowledge is self-explanatory as to long delayed prosecution and as such it cannot be said that delay is unexplained. It is contended that copy of Formal Charge was submitted to the accused long before commencement of trial in which the superior responsibility of the accused has been manifestly narrated along with the relationship with his subordinates and as such it can not be said that accused had no notice about the charges brought against him. It is argued that nexus is not an element for crimes against humanity and genocide which has already been decided by order No.25 passed in respect of framing charge by this Tribunal. It is contended that during War of Liberation the accused had superior responsibility as Ameer of East Pakistan Jamaate-e-Islami and he acted as a ‘light house’ of crimes which resulted widespread killing of civilians by his subordinate allied forces and as such he is liable to be held responsible for the crimes against humanity and genocide committed in all over Bangladesh. It is argued that during War of Liberation, the accused in the name of saving ideology of Pakistan, conspired with Pakistani Martial law authorities and made incited speeches publicly with intent to destroy in whole or in part of the Bangalee nation which is a protected group of genocide under section 3(2) of the Act as well as Genocide Convention, 1948.
XIV. Discussion and decision Before discussing the charges brought against the accused, we consider it expedient to address some of the legal issues upon which the learned counsel for the defence drew our attention.
Tripartite Agreement and immunity to 195 Pakistani war criminals:-
49. It is not acceptable to say that no individual or member of auxiliary force as stated in section 3 of the Act can be brought to justice under the Act for the offence (s) enumerated therein for the reason that 195 Pakistani war criminals belonging to Pakistan Armed Forces were allowed to evade justice on the strength of ‘tripartite agreement’ of 1974. Such agreement was an ‘executive act’ and it cannot create any clog to prosecute member of ‘auxiliary force’ or an ‘ individual’ or member of ‘group of individuals’ as the agreement showing forgiveness or immunity to the persons committing offences in breach of customary international law was derogatory to the existing law i.e the Act enacted to prosecute those offences.
50. It is settled that the jus cogens principle refers to peremptory principles or norms from which no derogatory is permitted, and which may, therefore, operate a treaty or an agreement to the extent of inconsistency with any such principles or norms. We are thus inclined to pen our conclusive view that the obligation imposed on the state by the UDHR and the Act is indispensable and inescapable and as such the Tripartite Agreement which is an ‘executive act’ cannot liberate the state from the responsibility to bring the perpetrators of atrocities and system crimes into the process of justice.
51. As a state party of UDHR and Geneva Convention, Bangladesh cannot evade obligation to ensure and provide justice to victims of those offences and their relatives who still suffer the pains sustained by the victims and as such an ‘executive act’ (tripartite agreement) can no way derogate this internationally recognized obligation. Thus, any agreement or treaty if seems to be conflicting and derogatory to jus cogens (compelling laws) norms does not create any hurdle to internationally recognized state obligation.
52. Next, the Act is meant to prosecute and punish not only the armed forces but also the perpetrators who belonged to ‘auxiliary forces’, or who committed the offence as an ‘individual’ or member of ‘group of individuals’ and nowhere of the Act says that without prosecuting the armed forces (Pakistani) the person or persons having any other capacity specified in section 3(1) of the Act cannot be prosecuted. Rather, it is manifested from section 3(1) of the Act that even any person (individual or member of group of individuals), if he is prima facie found individually criminally responsible for the offence(s), can be brought to justice under the Act. Therefore, the argument that since the main responsible persons (Pakistan Army) have escaped the trial, on the strength of the tripartite agreement providing immunity to them, the next line collaborators cannot be tried is far-off to any canons of criminal jurisprudence.
53. Therefore, we are of the view that the ‘tripartite agreement’ is not at all a barrier to prosecute civilian perpetrator under the Act. Thus, we also hold that the Act was not enacted only for holding trial of 195 Pakistani war crininals, rather it has jurisdiction under section 3(1) of the Act to try armed forces, auxiliary forces, an individual or group of individuals for the commission of offences specified under section 3(2) committed in Bangladesh before and after commencement of the Act. Amendment of section 3(1) of the Act in 2009-
54. It is submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the accused that since the subsequent amendment brought in 2009 of the Act of 1973 by inserting the words ‘individual’, or ‘group of individuals’ in section 3(1) carries ‘prospective effect’, in reality, the present accused cannot be prosecuted in the capacity of an ‘individual’ or a superior for the offences underlying in the Act which is admittedly ‘retrospective’. Since such amendment has not been expressly given retrospective effect interpretation stands that the amendment is prospective.
55. At the out set, it is to be noted that it is rather admitted that even under retrospective legislation (Act enacted in 1973) initiation to prosecute crimes against humanity, genocide and system crimes committed in violation of customary international law is quite permitted. It is further to be noted that the ICTY, ICTR, SCSL and the judicial bodies backed by the UN have been constituted under their respective retrospective Statutes. Only the ICC is founded on prospective Statute.
56. We are to perceive the intent of enacting the main Statute together with fortitude of section 3(1). At the same time we cannot deviate from extending attention to the protection provided by the Article 47(3) of the Constitution to the Act which was enacted to prosecute, try and punish the perpetrators of atrocities committed in 1971 during the War of Liberation. The legislative modification that has been adopted by bringing amendment in 2009 has merely extended jurisdiction of the Tribunal for bringing the perpetrator to book if he is found involved with the commission of the criminal acts even in the capacity of an ‘individual’ or member of ‘ group of individuals’. It is thus validly understood that the rationale behind this amendment is to avoid letting those who committed the most heinous atrocities go unpunished. This is the intent of bringing such amendment.
57. It may be further mentioned here that the words ‘individual’ or member of ‘group of individuals’ have been incorporated both in section 3 of the Act and in Article 47(3) of the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh by way of amendments in 2009 and 2011 respectively. The right to move the Supreme Court for calling any law relating to internationally recognised crimes in question by the persons charged with crimes against humanity and genocide has been taken away by the provision of Article 47A(2) of the Constitution. Since the accused has been prosecuted for offences recognized as international crimes as mentioned in the Act he does not have right to call in question any provision of the Act or any of amended provisions thereto. Thus, we hold that the application of prospectiveness or retrospectivity as to amendment to section 3 and subsequent amendments of the Act raised by the accused is quite immaterial to him in consideration of his legal status and accordingly the defence objection is not sustainable in law, particularly in the light of Article 47(3) and Article 47A of the Constitution.
Delay in bringing prosecution
58. From the point of morality and sound legal dogma, time-bar should not apply to the prosecution of human rights crimes. Neither the Genocide Convention of 1948, nor the Geneva Convention of 1949 contains any provision on statutory limitation to war crimes and crimes against humanity. General Assembly Resolution No. 2391(XXIII) of 26 November 1968 provides protection against even any statutory limitation in prosecuting crimes against humanity, genocide etc. Thus, criminal prosecutions are always open and not barred by time limitation.
59. It may be cited here that the Second World War was concluded in 1945 but still the Nazi War Criminals are being prosecuted. Similarly, the trial of international crimes committed during Chilean revolution in 1973 is still going on. In Cambodia during polpot regime, international crimes were committed in the year 1975 to 1978 but due to internal conflicts and lack of political will, the then government could not start prosecution against perpetrators in time. The Royal Government of Cambodia waited 25 years for attaining a strong political will, thereafter in association with the United Nations, they established a Hybrid Tribunal and thus trial against the perpetrators was started in 2003 which is still going on. In fact, the criminal prosecution as regards international crimes is always open and not barred by any time-limit. The Soverign immunity of Slobodon Milosevic of Serbia, Charles Taylor of Liberia and Augusta Pinochet of Chile, as head of the states could not protect themselves from being detained and delayed prosecution for committing genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
60. In view of the above settled position and in the absence of statutory limitation, only the delayed prosecution does not preclude prosecutorial action to adjudicate the culpability of the perpetrators of core international crimes. It requires strong public and political will together with favourable and stable political situation for holding such trial. Therefore, justice delayed is no longer justice denied, particularly when the perpetrators of core international crimes are brought on the process of justice. However, delay may create a doubt but such matter is addressed after taking all the factual circumstances into consideration.
61. The defence submitted that the alleged statements and speeches of the accused do not amount to incitement to commit genocide under customary international law. The Tribunal has to consider it in the light of culture of the country and specific circumstance of the case whether such speeches constitute direct incitement to commit genocide in a particular context.
62. It is not correct to say that during War of Liberation, no protected group as required under Genocide Convention was targeted by Pakistani occupation forces and its allied forces to commit offences of genocide. It is gathered from common facts of knowledge that the occupation forces launched war in the night following 25 March 1971 against a protected group Bangalee nation who sided for the independence of Bangladesh.
63. It is submitted by the defence that only Razakar Bahini was the statutory body which acted as an auxiliary force under the command of Pakistan occupation forces but other organs namely, Peace Committee, Al- Badr, Al-Shams and Al-Mujaheed were not statutory auxiliary forces upon which the accused had no command or control and as such he cannot be held liable for any kind of superior responsibility as contemplated in section 4(2) of the Act. Section 3(1) of the Act of 1973 was amended in 2009 by in corporating the phrase ‘any individual’ or ‘ group of individuals’ with intent to broaden the jurisdiction of the Tribunal so that both armed and non-armed persons can be brought to justice. We do not hegitate to hold that after amendment of section 3(1) of the Act, it has become immaterial to determine whether the alleged subordinate organs of Jamaat-e-Islami were statutory or non-statutory body for the purpose of holding trial against them under the Act. Now, law stands that any person or group of persons or their superiors whether armed forces or not can be prosecuted on the charge of offences as specified in section 3(2) of the Act.
64. It is not true that the charges brought against the accused are vague as no notice of crimes and liability were given to the accused as required in section 16(1)(c) of the Act. It is evident on record that the copy of the Formal Charge was duly supplied to the accused before commencement of trial. It is also revealed from both the Formal Charge and the order No.25 (framing charge) that the accused being the head of a religious party had superior responsibility which has been manifestly narrated therein with the name of his subordinate organs over which he had exclusive control and as such it can not be said that the accused was not given due notice about the charges brought against him.
65. It may be mentioned here that by the order of framing charge being No.25, it has already been settled by this Tribunal that nexus is not required during armed conflict, when such attack is directed against civilian population to cause crimes against humanity or genocide.
XV. Whether crimes against humanity, genocide and other class crimes were committed during war of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.
66. The term genocide was created by Rahael lemkin in 1944 to describe what was happening to the Jews of Europe. He combined the word ‘geno’ which in Greek means race and ‘cide’ which means killing. So literal defination of genocide is race killing.
67. It is undeniable that a massive genocide took place in 1971 in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which is perhaps the greatest massacre after the atrocities of the Second World War. This massacre can only be compared with the slaughters committed by Nazis under the leadership of Hitlar.
68. Since creation of Pakistan in 1947, its government adopted discriminatory policies backed by its bureaucracy and Army to rule over East Pakistan and caused great disparity in every field including education, welfare, health, armed forces, civil bureaucracy, economic and social developments. In 1952 the Pakistani authorities attempted to impose Urdu as the only state language of Pakistan ignoring Bangla, the language of majority Bangalee nationals of Pakistan. The people of the then East Pakistan started movement and sacrificed their lives to get Bangla as a state language of Pakistan. Since then Bangalees started movement for greater autonomy and self determination and eventually independence.
69. In the general election of 1970, the Awami League under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the majority seats in the Parliament election. Despite this overwhelming majority, Pakistani Military Junta did not handover power to the leader of the majority party as democratic norms required. Rather, in a planned way Pakistani forces in the night following 25 March 1971 started “operation search light” upon civilian people of East Pakistan with intent to destroy the Bangalee nationals. With that motive, they committed one of the massive genocide in the history of the world with utmost brutality and cruelty. An important aspect is required to be mentioned here for better understanding as to why West Pakistani people used to cherish hostile attitude towards Bangalee people of East Pakistan.
70. People of East and West Pakistan were culturally and mentally very much different. Islam was all they had in common but their languages were different and even the food they ate was different. West Pakistan Society was run by landlords and military elite. Bangali Society was very rural and manned by peasants belonging to poor class. From the very creation of Pakistan, its rulers used to believe that Hindus are the cause of all troubles of Pakistan. Because, the Hindus were educated elite who could mould and change the Bangalees into being more Hindu. They also believed that Bangalee Muslims of East Pakistan were not Muslim enough as they were for closely tied to Hinduisms because Hindus composed thirteen percent of East Pakistan’s population. During partition of India most of the Hindus were driven out from West Pakistan but unfortunately such step was not taken in East Pakistan. So, a large number of Hindus living in East Pakistan was a headache of Pakistani rulers.
71. President Ayub Khan being the most infamous dictator of Pakistan, depicted the characteristic of Bangalee people in his political biography named ‘Friends not Master’ as follows:- “ Bangalees have all the inhabitations of lower trodden races and have not yet found it possible to adjust psychologically to the requirements of new born freedom” Source:- Friends not Master (1967) page 187.
72. Within one month of the declaration of the independence of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971, two blocs were automatically created among the people for taking part in for or against the War of Liberation. (1) The first bloc was consisted of all most all the Bangalee people who supported and participated in the call to free Bangladesh. (2) Awami league and other pro-liberation political parties and specially Hindu Community as religious group who whole-heartedly supported the War of Liberation.
73. On the other hand, the second bloc was consisted of a little number of pro-Pakistani, some religion-based political parties and Biharis who joined and /or collaborated with the Pakistan armed forces to actively oppose the creation of independent Bangladesh. Specially Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party and organization actively participated to resist independence of Bangladesh.
74. It may be mentioned here that provision of section 19 of the Act has empowered this Tribunal to take judicial notice of the documents mentioned therein without formal proof- “ A Tribunal shall not require proof of facts of common knowledge but shall take judicial notice thereof.” This Act clearly suggests that in appropriate cases the Tribunal must take mandatory judicial notice of common knowledge.
75. None has denied the incidents of human right violations happened in Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971. The unjust and unlawful War of Pakistan against unarmed people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) is evidenced as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The birth of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 was a unique phenomenon that it was the first nation-state to emerge after waging a successful liberation war against a post colonial state. From March to December 1971, the nine month long liberation war drew world’s attention because of genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Pakistani occupation forces and their collaborators which resulted by murder of approximately 3 million people and nearly a quater million girls and women were raped, leading to approximately 25,000 pregnancies. Ten million Bangalees reportedly took refuse in India to avoid the massacre of Pakistani army and thirty million people were internally displaced within the country. The above crimes undoubtedly rank first after Nazi holocaust during the Second World War( 1939-1945). Now let us peruse some news –reportings and books written about atrocious activities committed during War of Liberation of Bangladesh by Pakistani occupation forces with the aid of local perpetrators for the purpose of taking judicial notice of it.
76. Horrendous atrocities committed by Pakistan Army during War of Liberation of Bangladesh was true like anything that even Army Generals of Pakistan could not deny such fact. Major General Tajammel Hossain Malik made an interview about the liberation war of Bangladesh which was published in Pakistan Defence Journal. A little portion of such interview is quoted below:- “I learnt through my other officers that during the earlier operations against the Mukti Bahinis, thousands of innocent people were killed. In one of my defensive position at Santahar, large number of people were massacred. General Tikka Khan and Lieutenant General Jahanzeb Arbab had earned their reputations of being “butcher of East Pakistan”. So there were many other Brigadiers and Generals. Mukti Bahini may also have done in retaliation but it was very negligible as compared to the atrocities committed by the West Pakistan troops against the East Pakistanis. Source:- Major General (Retd.) Tajammal Hossain Malik. “Remembering our warriors” August, 2000.
77. “On the night between 25/26 March 1971 General Tikka struck. Peaceful night was turned into a time of wailing, crying , and burning. General Tikka let loose every thing at his disposal as if, raiding an enemy, not dealing with his own misguided and misled people. The military action was a display of stark cruelty, more merciless than the massacres of Bukkara and Bagdad by Changez Khan and Halaku Khan or at Jallianwala Bagh by the British General Dyer.”
78. General Tikka instead of carring out the task given to him, i. e. to disarm armed Bengali units and persons and to take into custody the Bengali leaders, resorted to the killing of civilians and a scorched –earth policy. His orders to his troops were; “ I want the land and not the people.” These orders were carried out in letter and spirit by Major General Forman and Brigadier ( Later Lt. Gen.) Jahanzeb Arbab in Dhaka. Major General Rao Farman had written in his table diary “Green land of East Pakistan will be painted red” It was painted red by Bengali blood. Source:- ‘The Betrayal of East Pakistan’ (page – 45-46) written by General Niazi.
79. Senator Kennedy made comments on the situation of the then East Pakistan during War of Liberation as follows:- “Mr. President, reports from East Pakistan tell of a heavy toll being paid by the civilian population as a result of the current conflict. It is a story of indiscriminate killing, the execution of dissident political leaders, students, and thousands of civilians suffering and dying every hour of the day. It is a story of dislocation and loss of home. It is a story of little food and water. And coming in the after math of tragedy by natural disaster, the current violence and near total disruption of government services in East Pakistan is compounding an already difficult situation. It threatens near famine for millions and the spread of epidemics and disease”. Source:- Bangladesher Shadinota Juddha Dalil Patra (Ist. Govt. Publication in 1982) XIII volume, page 279.
80. A report sent by Mort Rosenblum was published in the ‘Washinton Evening Star’ on 12 May 1971 under the caption “vultures too full to fly”. The above caption news gives a horrendous picture of mass killing happened in Bangladesh during 25 March to 12 May, 1971. It is reported that the river side Vultures used to fill up their stomachs by taking human flesh to excess that they even could not fly. If we think over the matter for a while by closing our eyes, every one will easily guess the magnitude of massacre allegedly committed by the perpetrators during the early part of the Liberation War in 1971. The report is quoted below:- “Dacca, East Pakistan:- Vultures too full to fly perch along the Ganges River in grim contentment. They have fed on perhaps more than a half million bodies since March. Civil war flamed through Pakistan’s eastern wing on March 25, pushing the bankrupt nation to the edge of ruin. The killing and devastation defy belief. From a well at Natore, fetid gasses bubble up around bones and rotting flesh. A tiny child gazes at a break in the lavender carpet of water hyacinths in a nearby pond where his parents bodies were dumped”. Source:- Dalil Patra, (Govt. Pub.) XIII Volume, page No. 304-305.
81. A news report was published in the Daily Observer on 4.1.1972 under the caption “Pak Army Killed 75,000 people in Dinajpur” which is quoted below in relevant part. DINAJPUR:- Jan-4-- More than 75,000 persons were killed in the district of Dinajpur by the Pakistan occupation forces and their collaborators during the last nine months, according to the preliminary reports of an unofficial survey says ENA. The Survey revealed that besides mass killing, about 20,000 women were dishonoured by the Pakistani occupation forces and their agents in the district. The said news report has been proved by prosecution and marked as Ext. No. 119 on 17.09.2012.
82. A news report was published in the daily observer on 05.01.1972 under the caption “Pak Army killed over 30 lakh people” which is quoted below in relevant part. The Communist party news paper ‘pravda’ has reported that over 30 lakh persons were killed throughout Bangladesh by the Pakistan occupation forces during the last nine months, reports ENA. Quoting its special correspondent stationed in Dacca the paper said that the Pakistan Military forces immediately before their surrender to Mukti Bahinis and the Allied forces had killed about 8oo intellectuals in the capital city of Bangladesh alone. The said news-report has been proved by prosecution and marked as Ext. No. 120 on 17.09.2012.
83. A news report was published in the ‘Daily Observer’ on 08.01.1972 under the caption “Over one lakh killed in Khulna town” which is quoted below in relevant part. KHULNA Jan 6:- Over one lakh people were killed or injured, 20 lakh pucca and kutcha houses were destroyed or burnt and an equal number of people rendered homeless partly or completely at the hands of barbarous pakistani Army and their collaborators during their nine months reign of terror in Khulna district, according to an unofficial estimate available here from various sources. The said news report has been proved by prosecution and marked as Ext. No. 121 on 17.09.2012.
84. A news report was published in the “Daily Bangladesh Observer” on 17.02.1972 under the caption “ Pak- Army killed 30,000 persons in Hajigang” which is quoted below in relevant part. COMILLA Feb.-16:- Horridness of mass killing of unarmed innocent children and women by the brute Pakistan occupation Army and their collaborators during 9 long months in Bangladesh have been coming to light everyday. In Hajiganj Police Station of Chandpur Sub-Division about 30,000 people were murdered by Pakistan bandit army reports ENA. The said report has been proved by prosecution and marked as Ext. No. 133 on 17.09.2012.
85. A news report was published in “the Daily Bangladesh Observer” on 10.02.1972 under the caption “3000 women violated” which is quoted below in relevant part. THAKURGAON, Feb.-9:- During nine months of their occupation the Pakistan Army had killed nearly one thirtieth of the total of ten lakh population in the Sub-Division, violated 3000 women destroyed 8000 houses and looted all most all the valuables of the people. BSS Correspondent gathered here. The said report has been proved by the prosecution and marked as Ext. No. 164 on 18.09.2012.
86. Another news report was published in the Daily Azad on 10 February 1972 which has been proved and marked as Ext. No. 229 on 18.09.2012. In a condolence meeting, Dr. Mozaffar Ahmed Chowdhury, the then vice – Chancellor of Dhaka University firmly declared that during war of Liberation, Pakistan occupation forces killed more than 30 lakh people.
87. It may be recalled here that General Niazi in his book named “The Betrayal of East Pakistan” has narrated at its page Nos. 45-46 that General Tikka ordered his troops uttering “I want the land and not the people”. In continuation of such barbaric mission, the General Head quater of Army sent a massage “Burn every thing, kill everyone at sight”. The barbaric purpose of the Military Junta was not unknown to us who were in West Pakistan, when from General Head Quaters of the Pakistan Army the massage went out; “Burn everything, kill everyone in sight” Source:- ( Laurrence Lifs Chultz) Bangladesh; “The Unfinished Revolution,” page -77.
88. President Yahya Khan made a comment during struggle for Bangladesh which gives a total picture of genocide committed by the Pakistani Army and their collaborators. President Yahya commented –“Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands”. Source:- Robert Payne ‘Massacre’ page 50.
89. Robert Payne has given a chilling account of the Pakistani genocide in his widely read book “Massacre”. For month after month in all the regions 54 of East Pakistan the massacre went on. They were not the small casual killing of young officers who wanted to demonstrate their efficiency but organized massacre conducted by sophisticated staff officers, who knew exactly what they were doing. Muslim peasants, went about their work mechanically and efficiently until killing defenceless people became a habit like smoking cigarettes or drinking wine.
90. From the citations made above, we can safely draw a conclusion that since creation of Pakistan in 1947, the rulers of West Pakistan used to cherish very bad impressions about the Bengalee people of East Pakistan as to their religious belief and norms of life. Obviously, Pakistani Janta did not hegitate to commit crimes against humanity and genocide upon unarmed civilians of Bangladesh in 1971. Though the commission of offences of mass killing and genocide in Bangladesh has not been denied nevertheless, the documentary evidence cited above manifestly proves that a horrendous atrocities were committed by Pakistan occupation army and their colloborators in Bangladesh, during the War of Liberation. It may be noted here that the genocide in Bangladesh has been recognised in some publications out side the sub-continent, for example, the Guinness Book of Records lists the Bengali atrocities as one of the top 5 genocides in the 20th century.
91. It is undeniable that during the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani forces and their collaborators in a planned way made attacks upon unarmed civilians with intent to wipe out in whole or in part Bangalee 55 nation and sometimes against Hindu Community as a religious group . It is evident that the perpatrators committed crimes against humanity such as mass killing, extermination, deportation, abduction, torture, rape and genocide in a large scale and such attacks were directed against unarmed civilians. These occurrences of crimes against humanity and genocide have been confirmed by old documentary evidence such as books on liberation war, scholarly articles, newspaper reporting of both local and foreign media, Government and NGO reports which deemed to have probative value. The facts of mass killing, torture, rape and genocide of Bangladesh in 1971 has become a part of world history, a classic instance of a “fact of common knowledge”. Now let us examine both oral and documentary evidence keeping those in mind as old evidence for adjudicating the charges independently.