Charges against Ghulam Azam

The first war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh charged Ghulam Azam, who led the Jamaat-e-Islami during the 1971 Liberation War, with crimes against humanity during the war.

Published : 14 July 2013, 12:48 PM
Updated : 14 July 2013, 01:21 PM

Azam, a former chief of Jamaat, is allegedly among the key people who pioneered anti-liberation efforts in 1971 colluding with the Pakistani military junta of that time.

He is widely perceived to have been among core group of right-wing supporters of the Pakistani Army, who came out strongly in support of a united Pakistan.

International Crimes Tribunal-1 indicted Azam on five war crimes charges – 61 counts –including incitement, conspiracy, planning, abetment and failure to prevent crimes against humanity during the War of Independence.

The tribunal, set up to try crimes against humanity during the nine-month war, will deliver the much-awaited verdict on Azam on Monday.

Six counts of charges have been brought for conspiring with the Pakistan army, three for assisting them, 28 for incitement, 23 for affiliations with them and not barring killings and tortures, and one for murder and torture.

একাত্তরে এক বৈঠকে গোলাম আযম, রাও ফরমান আলী ও এম এ মালেক

Charge No 1
The first charge brought by the prosecution says, Ghulam Azam and 11 others including Nurul Amin, Maulavi Farid Ahmed, Khawaja Khayer Uddin, AKM Shafiqul Islam, Maolana Nuruzzaman, Hamidul Huq Chowdhury, Mohsinuddin Ahmed, Advocate AT Sadi, met Lt Gen Tikka Khan, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the “Kha” Zone of occupied Bangladesh on Apr 4, 1971 and plotted to form the ‘Nagorik Shanti Committee’.
He met Tikka Khan again two days later as part of the conspiracy. In continuation of the conspiracy, he held a high-level meeting with then Pakistan President Yahiya Khan. Again on Dec 1, the same year he took part in a conspiratorial meeting with Yahiya Khan and suggested strengthening the Razakar forces.
Azam was said to be instrumental in setting up the infamous Shanti, or Peace, Committee.
The Razakars, an auxiliary force set up to thwart the liberation forces, are said to have been mobilised through the Peace Committees across Bangladesh.
Among the most notorious vigilante militia was the Al Badr, whose membership is said to have been mainly dominated by the Jamaat's student wing called the Islami Chhatra Sangha at that time.
The Al Badr is alleged to have spearheaded execution of the intellectual elites of Bangladesh a few days before the victory on Dec 16, 1971.
Charge No 2
As part of a plan to form ‘Shanti Committee’ all across Bangladesh, on Apr 9, 1971 Ghulam Azam and others formed 140-strong ‘Nagarik Shanti Committee’ in Dhaka.
On May 4, a meeting of the ‘Shanti Committee’ was held at the residence of AQM Shafiqul Islam at Elephant Road in presence of Azam.
Presided over by Khawaja Khayer Uddin, the meeting planned the formation of Shanti Committee at various Unions of the Dhaka City.
Charge No 3
The prosecution brought 28 counts of inciting crimes against humanity.
On Apr 7, 1971, Ghulam Azam in a joint statement termed the Bangladeshi people struggling for freedom ‘Indian infiltrators’ and called for destroying them.
On Apr 22, after a meeting of the Peace Committee, he issued a statement where he termed members of all the fronts under his command as ‘patriotic citizens’ and called upon them to ‘resist’ the ‘destructive activities’ of the country’s general people.
In a meeting on May 17, Ghulam Azam termed the nation’s struggle for freedom as an ‘anti-state activity’ and the freedom fighters ‘traitors’.
Azam had also praised the barbaric ‘Operation Searchlight’ – in which hundreds of thousands of unarmed people were killed – to quell the Bangalees’ freedom struggle.
He had issued instigating statements against freedom fighters in rallies arranged at Rajshahi on Jul 16, in Brahmanbaria in Jul 18, in Khulna on Aug 4 and in Kushtia on Aug 7. He also made various provocative comments on the occasion of Pakistan’s 25th Azadi Day on Aug 14 at Dhaka University’s Curzon Hall, at party meetings on Aug 17 ad 23 and at a Jamaat-e-Islami programme in Peshawar on Aug 26.
While visiting Physical Education Centre on Sep 17, a training camp for Razakars, Ghulam Azam asked them to arm themselves. He made similarly provocative comments on Oct 3 at a meeting of Jamaat’s Mojlish-e-Shura.
Charge No 4
The fourth charge against Ghulam Azam includes 23 counts of his assistance and involvement in crimes against humanity.
The prosecution said Ghulam Azam and others met with Lt. General Tikka Khan on Apr 4 and Apr 6 and gave him full assurance of their support. The Nagorik Peace Committee was formed on Apr 9 with Ghulam Azam’s assistance. The name was changed to Central Peace Committee on Apr 15. He was among the 21-member working committee of the Peace Committee.
On Jun 18, Azam at Lahore Airport said the people want to fully assist the army. Azam met President Yahiya Khan at Rawalpindi on Jun 19 and proposed that the Razakars, Al Badr, Al Shams be supplied with arms so they can assist the army and confront the freedom fighters.
The next day, he told a press conference at the West Pakistan office of Jamaat-e-Islami that ’miscreants’ were active in East Pakistan and that the arms were required to combat them and to ensure the safety for the peace-loving citizens.
Charge No 5
The Prosecution has mentioned one count of murder and torture in the fifth charge against Ghulam Azam.
It says Comilla’s Homna Police Station’s Sub-Inspector Siru Miah, of Ramkrishnapur village, was employed as a Sub Inspector in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur Station in 1971. After the war began, he along with his wife Anwara Begum, minor son Anwar Kamal returned to this house at Chamelibagh on Mar 28.
They began helping the people who were fleeing to India as refugee. On Oct 25, 1971, Siru Miah and his son Anwar Kamal and others left their home to go to India armed with two revolvers. They were arrested by Razakars at Tantar checkpost of Kashba on Oct 27 and taken to the Razakars camp where they were tortured for several days and then sent to Brahmanbaria prison.
Siru Miah’s wife learned of their capture and got in touch with Ghulam Azam believing that an intervention by the chief of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and a central leader of the Peace Committee might be able to save them. The husband of Siru Miahs wife’s sister used to teach Azam’s two sons, Abdullahil Aman Azmi and Abdullahil Amin Al Azmi. The teacher requested that Azam that Siru Miah and his son be released.
Ghulam Azam however sent a letter to Brahmanbaria’s Peace Committee leader Peyara Miah ordering that Siru Miah and his son be killed.
Ultimately the two along with 38 others were taken out of the jail but a person named Shafiuddin was released as he knew Urdu. The rest were taken to Pourotola and shot by Razakars and Al-Badr..
Ghulam Azam, as the leader of Jamaat and allegedly playing a pivotal in setting up the Razakars, has been charged with the murder of 38 people as he could have supposedly prevented that from happening by dint of his standing and office in 1971.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher