Bangladesh to hang 1971 genocide perpetrator 'Azharul Islam'

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Bangladesh's war crimes tribunal, set up to punish 1971 genocide perpetrators, has sent another Islamist to the gallow - Azharul Islam.

The 62-year old leader of Jamaat-e-Islami - nation's largest Islamist party - was found guilty of  rape, mass murder and genocide during the war for independence from Pakistan.

Introduction

  • He has now become the 16th person and the 11th Islamist to be convicted of atrocities by this International Crimes Tribunal.
  • He will be hanged till death for his role in the genocide of over 1200 people - including mass rape - in the northern district of Rangpur.
  • As the 14th person to be given capital punishment he shares the same fate as other prominent leaders of the Islamist party which had supported Pakistan against their own countrymen in the bloody liberation war.
  • He - then a 19-year old leader of Jamaat student wing - had led the Al-Badr militia to assist the Pakistani army in the aforementioned crimes.

Repercussions

  • Islamists are once again on the boil, bringing the nation to a halt with violent countrywide protest - same as what happened after previous verdicts.
  • Clashes with police has left some 500 people dead since the begining of the trial in 2010.

Criticism

  • Critics of the tribunal term it just a political tool to eliminate the islamist opposition.
  • They see the trials as not fair and transparent enough, done with a lot of haste.
  • 2 leaders of the main opposition party - BNP - have also been sentenced by the tribunal.

Background

  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had constituted the tribunal in 2010 to deliver justice to the victims of war.
  • The Pakistan Army had unleashed a brutal campaign to supress the revolt with murder, torture, abduction and mass rsape - especially of minority Hindus.
  • Local organizations like Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams had helped them eliminate the opposition.
  • Some 3 million people had been killed - including few thousands rape - during the conflict that saw 'East Pakistan' emerging as a separate country Bangladesh.
  • However, the main perpetrators of the war crimes, the Pakistan soldiers, still remains out of the clutches of the courts.
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