Academics and international affairs experts in Bangladesh have pulled UK up over its apparent "hypocrisy" for stalling the long-pending extradition request for a convicted 1971 war criminal which is in stark contrast to removing Shamima Begum's British citizenship with the reasoning that she is "a citizen of Bangladesh by descent". Shamima – born and raised in UK – had joined Islamic State in Syria but is now fighting in a UK court against revocation of her citizenship.
Shamima Begum left her home in East London when she was 15 and travelled to Syria, where she married an Islamic State fighter.
On her return to UK, she faced the prospect of death penalty if sent to Bangladesh, her parents' country of origin, so she is now effectively stateless, a court has heard, reported The Guardian.
Shamima's legal fight came into spotlight recently as her appeal at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission was told that the then home secretary, Sajid Javid, had failed to consider the "serious practical consequences" of removing Shamima Begum's UK citizenship in 2019.
Referring to the prompt move on removal of her citizenship by then home secretary Sajid Javid, Bangladesh's anti-war crimes campaigners have raised questions over the "double standards" of successive UK governments, given their reluctance to consider the gruesome war crimes committed by Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, back in 1971.
The UK has turned down Bangladesh's request for Mueen Uddin's extradition even after he was sentenced to death for killing the brightest sons and daughters of Bangladesh with the intention to intellectually cripple the soon-to-be-born country, said Professor AKM Zakir Hossain, VC of Kurigram Agricultural University.
"As long as they keep sheltering Mueen Uddin and another fugitive convicted criminal Tarique Rahman, they have no moral right to preach our country over rights issues," added the academic.
Tarique Rahman was sentenced to life in prison over the heinous August 21, 2004 grenade attack — launched on an Awami League rally to annihilate the party's leadership, including the then opposition leader and current PM Sheikh Hasina.
Even an FBI official testified in the money laundering cases against Tarique. The acting chief of BNP has also been accused of instigating mobs in Bangladesh to carry out grisly arson attacks in 2013 that killed over 100 people after his party boycotted the election.
Unlike Shamima, Mueen Uddin was born and brought up in what is now Bangladesh, and unleashed brutal war crimes on people of this land to assist Pakistan army continue their genocide, one of the worst in global history as around 3 million people were murdered in the nine month-long Liberation War in 1971.
Immediately after December 16, 1971, when Bangladesh achieved victory in the war, Mueen Uddin, a leader of the infamous Al-Badr force, fled Bangladesh and moved to the UK.
Despite being a fugitive, he managed to get British citizenship and became the vice-chairman of East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the National Health Service of the UK. According to British newspaper The Sun, he now lives in a £1 million home in Southgate of North London.
Four decades after his crimes, a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal tried Mueen Uddin and his cohort Ashrafuzzaman Khan in absentia for killing at least 18 university teachers, journalists, and doctors. The International Crimes Tribunal-2 handed down death penalty for the war crimes in November, 2013.
"It is clear that there is a certain interest behind such hypocrisy, nothing beyond the UK's self-interest. This policy to shelter Mueen Uddin shows how that interest triumphs over human rights. Not only in regards to Bangladesh, UK's double standard has been demonstrated with several other countries," commented Prof Imtiaz Ahmed from International Relations Department of Dhaka University. A renowned international relations expert, Prof Ahmed is also Director of Centre for Genocide Studies at DU.
On the foreign policy front, UK always prefers what suits its interests first, regardless of the much ado about human rights, says Dhaka University Law department Professor Hafizur Rahman.
Prof Hafizur added, "UK government's stance to grant citizenship to a war criminal shows complete disregard for millions of victim families who lost their loved ones in the hands of war criminals like Mueen Uddin."