Bangladesh govt mulls Jamaat ban

the News Desk in Dhaka/The Daily Star
Asia News Network

Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - The Bangladesh government is scrutinising the laws to ban the Islamist Jamaat-Shibir party, as their terrorist and militant activities have wreaked havoc across the country, said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday.

"There have been strong demands from different quarters for banning the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Shibir," she said

Briefing foreign diplomats at the her ministry in the evening on the recent violence and atrocities by Jamaat-Shibir and their allies, Dipu Moni said the government was not thinking of deploying army to tackle the ongoing violence.

She said the government was also investigating whether there was any funding for the terror acts.

Diplomats from around 40 countries attended the meeting. Sources said ambassadors and high commissioners of Russia, Canada, the UK and the Philippines raised several questions on the ongoing situation.

Talking to reporters after the diplomatic briefing, the foreign minister said the diplomats had enquired mainly about three things - plan to ban Jamaat, possibility of army deployment and funding behind violence and its source.

On deployment of army, she said, "It seems the situation does not require it. But the government will take whatever steps necessary to protect the lives and property of the people."

Moni said the foreign diplomas while asking the questions implied that there had been a huge funding behind the Jamaat-Shibir violence and if so, what had been the source, and also whether the government was investigating that.

"There have already been a lot of discussions on the matter in public domain and some independent researchers are working on it," she added.

Emerging from the briefing, German Ambassador Albrecht Conze expressed grave concern over the loss of lives and property.

"The loss of innocent lives and public and private property is a matter of great regret," he said, adding, "In the rundown of election in 10 months, I don't know how this country can sustain, as in the coming months 10 verdicts and 13 appeals will happen. If the appeals are rejected, there will be more violence."

The German ambassador said constitutionally available options were the best way to resolve the problems.

British High Commissioner Robert Gibson also expressed worry about countrywide violence and deaths.

Meanwhile briefing the diplomats, the foreign minister hoped that the international community would appreciate a new paradigm being set by Bangladesh to conduct the trials of 1971 war criminals and a strong sense of national ownership.

She said the government remains open to any constructive and legally feasible suggestions to ensure further international standards in the trials.

Moni said the international community should also react to the fabricated propaganda run by the Jamaat-Shibir and their allies that the International Crimes Tribunals had been an excuse to politically undermine and persecute leading Islamist leaders and thinkers.

"It is unfortunate that such a false and mala fide notion had gained some sympathies within the political circles and media establishments of some of our friendly countries without delving into the antecedents of the accused and the convicted criminals," she said. "We have seen how such misguided demonstration of support in certain foreign countries has been used by the Jamaat-Shibir to drive home their point among their local sympathisers about these trials being a pretext for political persecution only."

The Foreign Minister urged all friendly governments to show respect to the popular demand for justice and join in their condemnation of those who have been found guilty of committing crimes against humanity.

Moni said the difficult course of righting the wrongs that Bangladesh has taken up would not just signal an end to the culture of impunity but also have profound implications for opening up the possibility for justice for the genocides or ethnic cleansings in other parts of the world.

"Our law enforcement agencies would maintain an uncompromising stance against any form of violence or terrorist acts under the pretext of political activities to save convicted criminals," she said.

Moni said the government has largely been able to contain the spread of violence, which remains concentrated in certain identified pockets of the country. "We have heightened intelligence operations and deployed additional police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) forces in the violence endemic areas,' she told the diplomats.

The district administrations have started distributing relief to the affected families and households including those of the Hindu minorities.

"We believe that the strongest firewall against the Jamaat-Shibir violence has been built by our youth at the Projonmo Chattar in Shahbagh. Their peaceful rallies and demonstrations have stood in sharp anti-thesis and rejection to the path of violence, murder, arson and vandalism chosen by Jamaat-Shibir and their allies," Moni said.