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Apr 15

Original Letter of Kamaruzzaman Revealed

An article on the blog Khichuri presents an English translation of a prison letter written by deceased leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, the Assistant Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh, to the acting leadership of the organisation. He was executed by hanging on April 11, 2015.

The original letter of Kamaruzzaman has been recently released for public viewing and here is a scanned copy of the contents of a letter that is 36 pages long.

The letter was titled Strategy for Change and is dated 26th November 2010, by which time the author had already been detained without formal charge for over four months. It articulates a view from the progressive tendency within the party, concerned for the welfare of its members, the public at large and the political stagnation taking hold of the party.

A website developed by his family goes some way to humanise him and elaborate on the trial proceedings and highlight discrepancies. The son of a Sherpur businessman, Kamaruzzaman turned 19 during the Bangladesh war and later studied journalism at Dhaka University. He denies the charges ranged against him, for which the Tribunal has sentenced him to death.

In recent weeks, Geoffrey Robertson QC, an independent and international authority on crimes against humanity published a report detailing the structural and procedural unfairness of the Tribunal. The report is constructive, inclusive and critical, outlining clear steps for internationalisation, truth and reconciliation on the issue.

Notes on the translation

This letter had been sub-titled for English reading audiences at home and abroad and edited for brevity. The full text of the Bangla language original can be found online. The translation is verbatim, with the exception of editorial notes for clarification that are to be found distinguished by square brackets. The letter precedes a number of major relevant world events, notably the Arab Spring/Winter.

We enter the letter at the point where Kamaruzzaman begins to outline a three-pronged fork in the road for the party, to deal with its current situation. Previously he has introduced Jamaat’s experience in Bangladesh with respect to other Islam oriented parties in the Middle East and the extraordinary crisis confronting it. This crisis is discussed as the successful and continual labelling of Jamaat as anti-liberation for the purposes of Divide and Rule. The campaign of vilification is said to have been, and is, most successful amongst the elite, educated class.

Highlighting the strategic public interest basis of Jamaat’s alliance with the BNP, and its history, he relates various arguments deployed by the Indian side to try and pull constituent partners apart and how the war crimes issue, used against many people who were not even members of the party during the war is a political instrument in the narrowest sense, and is socially amplified through the media. In addition, the Tribunal is argued to distract the public from political misrule, social degeneration and the release of dangerous criminals into the populace.

Before addressing the three options for Jamaat as he saw them, Kamaruzzaman discusses the government’s strategy on the party from where he was in 2010, and that most of the cards were the government’s to play.

The long translated extract can be read here -> StrategyforChange