Misleading campaign by a British lawyer to overthrow the Hasina-led B’desh government

By Sumi Khan

Dhaka, December 8 (IANS): The blatant endorsement of imposing new sanctions on Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) by British lawyer Toby Cadman, legal adviser to the radical organization Jamaat-e-Islami, a key affiliate of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has revealed the heavy investments , which the opposition alliance made for western nations to create a rift with Bangladesh and overthrow the government led by Sheikh Hasina.

In a recent interview with AL Jazera, Cadman admitted he is working to secure sanctions against RAB from the UK, not to mention expressing his satisfaction with the recent US sanctions imposed on five law enforcement officials.

“I have made the application for sanctions and while I am not in a position to discuss the substance, I can confirm that I have discussed the application with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office [FCDO]’ said Cadman, referring to the British Foreign Office.

Cadman’s latest testimony is yet another indication of a chilling conspiracy to mislead the world about Bangladesh, as the opposition combine of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami has long invested millions of dollars in hiring lobbies to launch covert operations against the government.

Given the recent sanctions imposed by the US over human rights issues, and Cadman taking the same line, he raises questions about the underlying twist of arms under the facade of upholding democratic values.

BNP leaders recently announced a deadline – December 10 – to overthrow the Hasina-led government, after which the country would be governed under the instructions of escaped convicts Tarique Rahman and Khaleda Zia.

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Since the beginning of the war crimes trial in 2009, a number of deceptive campaigns sponsored by the opposition Combine and the employment of Cadman and his associates by Jamaat-e-Islam have already been exposed.

Immediately following outright public rejection in the 2008 elections, the BNP-Jamaat combine chose to spend prodigious sums, particularly in the US, UK and European Union, to spread a targeted disinformation campaign against the Hasina-led government. Before the last parliamentary elections, Khaleda Zia even wrote a column in a Western newspaper, in which she advocated the dismantling of GSP institutions.

After its failure to boycott the 2014 elections, the BNP-Jamaat coalition launched a wave of street terror across the country – burning vehicles while simultaneously attacking law enforcement and minorities. She later appointed leading lobbying firms in the US and UK, a clear sign that she is throwing all her might behind foreign governments to level allegations of a lack of democracy in Bangladesh.

The AL Jazera report also quoted Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, a liaison officer at the Asian Commission on Human Rights, who presented evidence of human rights abuses by the RAB that accompanied sanctions requests to the US and UK.

“The expectation was that Britain and the US would work together as strong allies by announcing back-to-back sanctions. The US did that, but the UK didn’t,” Ashrafuzzaman said.

Ashrafuzzaman’s claim also raised questions about the substance behind such justification of legal issues, as AHRC has already been widely condemned for being a “highly biased body” that disregards the views of the country’s eminent rights activists and named for the defense of a controversial NGO ODHIKAR vouches for falsifying rights sale cases.

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Following the disclosure of the inclusion of two Indian insurgents in a UN-supplied enforced disappearance list to Bangladesh, the organization defended the inaccurate list and accused Bangladesh of launching a “hate campaign”.

AHRC claimed in its vague statement that the Bangladeshi media, which it described as “pro-government”, and government allies were involved in a campaign to smear the UN working group’s reputation and its sincerity on a serious issue such as to question forced disappearances.

What the Commission failed to take into account, however, is that it was not an attempt to denigrate a human rights organization, but the intention was simply to show the inconsistency and inaccuracy of the data coming from an institution like the UN, which has always been the case at the forefront of defending human rights around the world, said prominent Bangladeshi professor Mizanur Rahman Khan.

While diplomats have been vocal about opposition parties’ grievances over legal issues, the screams of hundreds of families tortured and attacked by the BNP’s arson fires did not even prompt a protest.

After the Jamaat-e-Islami’s appeal to have Mir Quasem Ali’s death sentence overturned for heinous crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War was rejected, the freedom fighters said: “This is our achievement. You can’t help but think that the rule of law and the judgment of the court are more important.”

It was commonly alleged by victims of the 1971 war crimes that Mir Quasem, a top Jamaat financial collector, provided funds for campaigns aimed at slandering the war criminals’ trials when they began in 2010.

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In 2013, former Attorney General Barrister Shafique Ahmed told this reporter that Mir Quasem had paid a lobbying firm $25 million to challenge the war crimes tribunal’s verdict on top Jamaat leaders.

The government, he said, has a copy of the contract and a receipt for the payment he made.

The International Criminal Court (ICT) sentenced Mir Quasem to death on November 2, 2014 for kidnapping, torturing and murdering innocent Bengalis.

Chittagong-based Mir Quasem is notorious as the third man in the command structure of the Al-Badr militia during the 1971 Liberation War. Quasem, the founder and president of the Jamaat’s student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, after its renaming from the former Islami Chhatra Shangha im Year 1985, was an executive member of the party.

Cadman, hired by the Jamaat, organized a media conference in London two days before Mir Quasem was sentenced by Bangladesh’s ICT.

The state presented a receipt to the Supreme Court to prove that Mir Quasem used lobbyists to thwart the war crimes trials.

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