Recent comments on the war crimes trials by Hummam Quader Chowdhury, son of convicted war criminal Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, at a BNP divisional meet at Chattogram, should not be taken lightly, said justice activists at a recent webinar.
In his speech, Hummam termed the executed war criminals of Jamaat E Islami and BNP, including his own father, as "martyrs", promising that Awami League leaders and workers would not be able to return home alone at night when BNP comes to power. Those involved in the trials would have to apologise to all the families of executed war criminals.
Addressing the webinar, law and policy expert, and a long-time justice activist, Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, highlighted BNP's open support for war criminals throughout the years to make the point that Hummam simply said out aloud what almost all BNP leaders and workers believe.
He also pointed out how BNP gave central party positions to the scions of executed war criminals in 2016 and nominated them for elections in 2018, said a press release.
Organised by G Live, the show "My Opinion" was also joined by a prominent online activist and liberation war researcher Omi Rahman Pial, and IT specialist Sufi Faruq Ibne Abubakar, who also leads the Gurukul Online Learning Network.
The activists also noted that BNP's attempts to distance themselves from Hummam's threats are nothing but an attempt to hide their true nature as their long track record says otherwise. They added that Hummam's speech blew the lid on the recent "decoupling drama" initiated by BNP leadership to publicly distance itself from the Jamaat to project a more 'centrist' image of the party.
As 27 eminent citizens pulled up Hummam for his 'audacity' to legitimise the 1971 genocide by describing the executed war criminals as "Shaheed", the webinar participants criticised the double standards of the BNP in peddling two narratives: the right-wing Jamaat-friendly one for its domestic audience/base, and a more liberal, centrist one for the western audiences.
Barrister Farhad noted that there is no option of taking Hummam's threats lightly, as their family has a long history of violence against political opponents. He also sought greater protection for the complainants, witnesses and officials of the war crimes trial process. He gave examples of how these groups came under attack and constant intimidation since the trials started in 2010.
Prominent online activist Omi Rahman pointed to how Hummam was introduced at the party's Chattogram rally as "the son of a martyr". He also highlighted how BNP kept Salauddin Quader Chy in the party's highest policymaking forum, the standing committee, till his execution.
Echoing similar views, Sufi Faruq remarked, 'BNP is just a political plank that broadly seeks to give legitimacy to Jamaat given the latter's proven record of promoting Taliban-like Islamist radicalism'. Faruq added that the lack of Jamaat's legitimacy on the global stage prompted BNP to offer a plank of legitimacy for Jamaat. Historically, the ties between the parties have been powerful and it seems ahead of the election this bond is growing strength by strength, he added.
The Election Commission has deregistered the party because its political ideologies and policies contradicted the constitutional founding values of Bangladesh.
BNP's founder General Ziaur Rahman and his successor General HM Ershad blew away Bangladesh's1972 secular constitutional edifice and installed "Islam" as the state religion. Both helped legitimise the pro-Pakistan Jamaat gain legitimacy. That continued under Begum Zia and Tarique Rahman, when the war criminals from the party made it into the cabinet.
Netizens were also seen posting "Boycott BNP, Boycott Jamaat," and "Like Father like Son" after Hummam's controversial speech at Chattogram.