Monday, September 17, 2007

Will Jamaat be banned from politics?

The two previous military governments of General Zia and Ershad had rehabilitated fundamentalist war criminals Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh politics. Jamaat should be brought to justice for genocide in 1971 that has been sadly neglected for the last 31 years. Now, time has come once again to unite all Bangladeshis to put Jamaati war criminals into trial and ban them from national politics. This issue surfaced during the Election Commission's dialog with Krisak Sramik Janata League (KSJL). Daily Star writes,
Responding to a proposal for banning Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh from carrying out its political activities including its right to contest in parliamentary elections, the CEC said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman provided amnesty to war criminals, but he also said people who had specific charges against them were not eligible for the amnesty.

"It was you [politicians], who made anti-liberation leader Shah Azizur Rahman the prime minister after 1975. Anti-liberation people were made ministers of the immediate past government. Now how we are to go ahead disqualifying them from contesting in the polls?" the CEC asked.

"Give us a mechanism, give us a proposal for approaching the matter," Huda said while holding a dialogue with Krishak Sramik Janata League (KSJL) on electoral reforms in the EC Secretariat conference room.

The KSJL chief, also a veteran freedom fighter, Quader Siddiqui, placed a set of electoral reform proposals including a proposal for inserting new conditions for registration of political parties so that the anti-liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami may not get registered for contesting in parliamentary elections until they seek mercy for their crimes in 1971.

"Bangabandhu did not give amnesty to those who had been charged for murder and rape during the liberation war. Jamaat-e-Islami supported the Pakistani army and committed crimes against humanity, which are evident in newspaper reports," the KSJL chief said.

He also proposed to cancel the election symbol of Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a scale, as it is a symbol of justice worldwide. "There is no relation between justice and Jamaat," Quader quipped.

Another leader of KSJL told the meeting that freedom fighters are suffering tremendously while the anti-liberation collaborators are having good times in independent Bangladesh, they even enjoyed state power.

At that point of the dialogue, the CEC responded to KSJL's proposals and said the Communist Part of Bangladesh also raised the same demand in February. "But how are we to accept and implement the proposal for declaring the war criminals and anti-liberation forces disqualified from contesting in the polls?" he questioned.

The KSJL chief expressed his appreciation to the CEC's amicable approach to their proposal and said they just raised the sentiment of the people before the EC.

Despite the poll chief's apparent sympathy towards KSJL's unequivocal denouncement of the anti-liberation forces, the EC is scheduled to sit for a dialogue with Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh on October 25, as the party has been a parliamentary one since 1986.

Jamaat had been constitutionally banned in Bangladesh up to 1976 since the independence of the country, until late president Ziaur Rahman, who was the chief martial law administrator at the time, reinstated it in mainstream politics despite their fundamentalist ideology.

Jamaat first came to share state power with BNP in 2001 as part of the immediate past ruling alliance.

"We are not talking about any individual, rather about a political party which opposed the liberation war of Bangladesh. Jamaat-e-Islami is a political party which had first worked as an agent of the British colonialists and later as a collaborator to the invading Pakistani army during Bangladesh's war of independence," Quader said.

He said the EC in its proposal for having parliamentarian political parties registered with the commission mentions that a party has to express allegiance to Bangladesh's constitution and to the country's sovereignty, but Jamaat-e-Islami does not have allegiance to the country's constitution as the party's constitution pledges to establish Allah's laws.

"So, Jamaat-e-Islami in no way can be allowed to be registered with the Election Commission," Quader said.

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