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Aug 21

A story of The Ignorant Barrister and Human Rights Watch

Almost all parties with arguments for and against the International Crimes Tribunal which was set to try the war criminals of 1971 are unanimous in agreement that the government did not invest adequate resources in the materialization of the tribunal, whether through allocation of funds or the necessary expertise. Both sides have independently raised concerns that the government, time and again, hurried through the technical aspects of the trials, agreeing upon the fact that this was done intentionally in a bid to dust off any accountability while aggressively trying to capitalize on the political advantages they gained from the emanating rhetoric.

International Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor Tureen Afroz is a well known celebrity. Her fame as an alleged expert on international war crimes and crimes against humanity has fueled her demand on television and other media. However, recent comments by this alleged expert have rendered many dumbfound at the ignorance of her remarks rather than been enlightened by her expertise.

When U.S. based human rights organization Human Rights Watch raised questions exposing the flawed nature of the trials, Tureen, in her initial reactions, responded with harsh criticism, “I am shocked to read the HRW article and the outrageous comments made therein regarding Ghulam Azam Case”. Following this statement, she outlined some queries whereby she sought to question the stance of the HRW regarding the trial of Ghulam Azam. The author, while checking them out at the following link, was shocked at the nature of these questions. http://bangla.bdnews24.com/bangladesh/article659970.bdnews(in English)

Her first question was as follows, “First of all who is HRW to comment on our internal judicial process and matters? Is it not itself violation of international law? What did HRW do when the Eichmann or Saddam Hussein Trial were carried out in complete violation of all standards of international law?
Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem – 1961 
The trial and death penalty of the notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was staged in Israel in 1961. It is to be noted that whenever Eichmann is mentioned, that black and white picture of him standing in a Jerusalem court comes flashing into one’s mind. Human rights Watch was founded in the U.S. in the year 1978. Anybody even slightly knowledgeable on International Law and War Crimes would have known that Human Rights Watch is a relatively new organization. As to why someone claiming to be so knowledgeable would associate this comparatively nascent organization with the events of that black and white aged Eichmann is surprising if not outrageous. One never knows. If the present government becomes more oppressive against the oppression, Tureen Afroz may justify it by bringing forth accusations of the failure of Human Rights Watch to condemn the bloodbath orchestrated by the British in quelling the Sepoy mutiny movement!

Let us dissect this more. Tureen Afroz further asks, “What did HRW do when Saddam Hossain Trial was carried out in complete violation of all standards of international law? Did they talk about his protection via their so called international law?”
Sadly, this question brings out into the open the parsimonious nature shown by the present government in its handling of the tribunal. Was the government so mired in poverty that it was unable to supply a basic internet connection to a prosecutor of such unfathomably mythical proportions? We say this because we found this within a few seconds of doing a Google search with the words “Saddam Hussein Human Rights Watch”,

http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/11/19/iraq-dujail-trial-fundamentally-flawed

” The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven other defendants before the Iraqi High Tribunal for crimes against humanity was marred by so many procedural and substantive flaws that the verdict is unsound, Human Rights Watch said in a 97-page report released today.. “November, 2006.

Human Rights Watch had compiled a 97 page investigative report on the procedural faults evident in the Saddam trial. Simple deductive reasoning should be enough to debunk a facade of a character that Tureen Afroz evidently is. Following this enlightenment, one should not be surprised at more gibberish emanating from around the corner of the above said personality.


Her second question was, “Did HRW ever stand to protect the rights of the victims of mass atrocities committed in 1971 since it claimed to be a human-rights organization? Why [didn’t it]?”
This question again brings into the spotlight the level to which Barrister Turin has been deprived of as a result of being a hapless victim to the digital divide actuated by the Awami League government in Bangladesh. Had she been endowed with slightest amount of common sense coupled with a decent access to the internet, she would have found the following even before putting forward such a presumptuous question:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/05/19/bangladesh-unique-opportunity-justice-1971-atrocities

” The Bangladeshi government’s effort to bring to trial those responsible for atrocities during the struggle for independence in 1971 is an important and long overdue step to achieve justice for victims, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Human Rights Watch said that it strongly supports a successful legal and judicial process that is fair and impartial.” May 2011

There is apparently another important aspect behind the above question of Tureen. Her attitude highlights the thoughts of a mentally walled up section of the society which tends to believe that international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Transparency International were formed for the single purpose of defaming Bangladesh and Bangladeshi politicians, especially the Awami League government.

Pathetic are these characters who do not have the decent common sense to note that the above organizations employ thousands of employees worldwide and that the reports centering around Bangladesh form a very minor if not insignificant part of their regular reports.


However, it is wise to note that the above situation will change 180 degrees in the event that the reins of power change into the hands of the BNP (currently the opposition). The world will be surprised to find the above mentioned pathetic characters become the biggest fans of international human rights organizations which they so abhor now. One will find them extolling the virtues of each and every line of any report generated then.
The third question of Tureen was even more surprising, where she asked, “More importantly, when the very matter of Ghulam Azam appeal is pending before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, can anyone, let alone HRW, at all comment on the matter?”
Ghulam Azam at the ICT (Courtesy:Reuters)
There is a wonderful custom in Bangladesh. If any uncomfortable question is brought up regarding a controversial judicial case, a load of logic comes up in favour of “one cannot talk about a judicial matter under court supervision” followed by a “Let the judgment be passed and the subject of controversy be hanged. Now you can make your argument.”

It is sad that the proponents arguing in favour of the above appear to be so selective in their criticisms. Which law prevents media of different countries worldwide from reporting and giving opinions on any event of sub judicial character? Such actions of restricting media freedom in opinionating on events of sub judicial character without any reason whatsoever is characteristic of something more sinister. It is indicative of a state and government fast hurtling towards an irreversible path of autocratic rule. Did any court in Bangladesh lament on or bring forward charges of contempt of court for the opinions emanating from various organizations and media on the trials of JMB extremists such as Banglabhai and Shaykh Abdur Rahman? Did the American court threaten to raise charges of contempt for the media storm on the case of Bangladeshi citizen Nafees?
Has Tureen Afroz never witnessed the depth of the analysis put up by Western media in places such as the US and the UK regarding controversial issues of subjudice? These dissecting analyses are not limited to procedural faults but extend to ad-nauseam discussions about what judgments the judges should or should not give. Did Tureen Afroz not even witness the huge controversies, opinions and analyses in the media and on the streets sparked by the great public interest worldwide regarding trials of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milošević?     
There is no doubt as to the image crisis such insensitive remarks will generate in national and international circles. A whole judicial system will have to bear the brunt of the negative image generated due to loose and irresponsible comments of a self styled star barrister as evidenced already by an apparently questioning report by a slightly bewildered Reuters. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/20/us-bangladesh-court-idUSBRE97J0DI20130820 ) 
This is the enlightening report by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch on the flawed trial of Ghulam Azam:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/08/16/bangladesh-azam-conviction-based-flawed-proceedings

Courtesy: Originally posted on Basherkella “তুরিন আফরোজ হিউম্যান রাইটস ওয়াচ” by শফিকুর রহমান (http://blog.pothik.org/archives/365)