It is being suggested that Ghulam Azam, the 91-year-old leader of the Jemaat-e-Islam party who has been held in detention in Bangladesh for some two years, is to be put to death by the Bangladeshi government on 26 March, 2013. That would be a blatant violation of articles 3 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations, the most important voice of the international public must immediately become involved and issue a serious and concrete response and prevent the execution.
The Bangladeshi government is every day increasing its arbitrary measures based on force and compulsion. It is enough to hold a different political opinion for people to be detained and kept in prison for years. The other day, more than 2500 opponents of the government protesting the death sentence awarded to Ghulam Azam were detained for no offense. Yet no international organization has issued a serious reaction about the wrongful nature of the Bangladeshi government’s action.
The great majority of the world public does not raise its voice against what is going on in Bangladesh. Thousands of people who are persecuted in Bangladesh are left to their own devices. All these people faced by armed security forces can do is stage protest marches. As a result of these marches they are then beaten and detained for no reason. All kinds of torture await them in detention.
Ghulam Azam, the 91-year-old leader of the Jemaat-e-Islam, has been detained for some 2.5 years. It is both cruel and inhumane to keep a person of that age under harsh prison conditions. Yet the Bangladeshi government has gone even further than this and condemned Azam to death, and has decided to enforce the sentence on March 26, Bangladeshi Independence Day. This is unacceptable.
This state of affairs is a blatant contravention of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drawn up by the United Nations in 1948, which says that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” It is also a blatant violation of Article 9, which says that “nobody shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” The People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been a member of the United Nations since 17.09.1974, meaning it has agreed to all past and future decrees. The United Nations must therefore demand that the Bangladeshi government abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and closely watch the course of events.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the Bangladeshi security forces for the disproportionate use of force and the torture of detainees in 2005. Transparency International has put Bangladesh at the head of its list of most corrupt countries. Yet nothing has changed in Bangladesh since then. The country is literally a closed box, and there is no international structure in the country to monitor whether or not human rights are being observed. For example, Amnesty International, which identifies violations of human rights across the world and performs wide-ranging activities on the subject, has no representation in Bangladesh.
The United Nations must at once take steps to make sure that this arbitrary death sentence, issued out of sight and with no oversight, should not be enforced. It must try all means to make sure the penalty is not enacted. What is taking place in the country and the crimes against humanity going on must not be kept out of view of the world.