Thursday night (around 9pm BST), Gita Sahgal, producer of War Crimes Files documentary on 1971 Liberation War and three collaborators now living in the UK, posted on Facebook: “Question from Bangladesh regarding my opposition to death penalty. I want to make clear that I oppose the death penalty under all circumstances whether it is a judicial punishment or the threat of extra-judicial killing such as the Jamaat e Islami are threatening against ‘atheist bloggers’ for blasphemy.”
Sunahwar Ali All those War Criminals are the Virus to the our Society & to the Nation and now we do need Paki lovers FREE Bangladesh and all those War Criminals must be HANG to the death and others Jaamat & some BNP those WHO are the PAKI lovers and they must go to the Pakistan, as they don’t love our mother land BUT they do love Pakistan instead !!!!!
David Bergman sunahwar Ali Are you suggesting that anyone who does not support hanging those convicted of 1971 crimes are ‘Paki lovers’ are you rather quaintly put it – particularly when the process of the trials have been seriously compromised.
Full version of the DOCU-FILM, directed by David Bergman, is also available.
Sahgal, currently the executive director of the Centre for Secular Space, is now working towards establishing secularism as a human rights issue in Bangladesh communities in the UK.
Her another post, a letter to a former colleague of Amnesty International: I write this with a heavy heart as I know that you are one of the few at Amnesty International, fully conscious of the dangers of fundamentalism and no friend of the pro-jihadi faction. I know you have done much to raise awareness of the human rights issues which are raised whenever fundamentalists press their agenda. You have fought against declaring Ahmaddiyas as ‘non-Muslim’ and explained to colleagues the importance of moving fast to prevent bad legislation being put in place. Complaining atrocities have happened is simply not good enough. They should be prevented in the first place.
I am sure that it is in that spirit that you have commented on the war crimes tribunal and on Amnesty International’s opposition to the death penalty. I too stand in opposition to the death penalty, but I support the spirit of the Shahbagh movement in its desire to seek justice and accountability.
Activists and human rights advocates have felt abandoned by the Western human rights organisations, which have produced not a single report on the crimes committed in 1971 in Bangladesh nor the impunity enjoyed by the Jamaat e Islami in the UK. As we demonstrate in front of Amnesty today, I hope that you will come out and meet us. Neither the Bangladeshi activists nor the Centre for Secular Space are enemies of human rights. Indeed, we are all engaged in one of the greatest human rights struggles of our times.
It is not too late to remedy Amnesty International’s wrongs, most of which lie elsewhere in the organisation. I hope you will share this with Salil Shetty, Widney Brown, Kate Allen and other relevant bosses.
1) Amnesty International UK should apologise for its part in legitimising the Jamaat e Islami by giving Abdul Bari a platform at an AGM, in spite of very strong advice not to treat as ‘Muslim leaders’ fundamentalists belonging to a party implicated in war crimes .
2) Amnesty International should apologise publicly and clearly for embracing ‘defensive jihad’ an ideology which was used in Bangladesh to rape and kill.
3) Amnesty International should use its own genocide guidelines to pronounce on the nature and severity of the crimes committed. We believe that these crimes amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Where does Amnesty International stand?
4) Amnesty International could assert its strong commitment to ending impunity and announce an investigation into the threat to human rights constituted by global religious fundamentalist organisations such as the Jamaat e Islami.
Every single one of these demands is within Amnesty International’s policies. All it needs to implement them is integrity and political will.
With very best wishes
After a couple of hours, David commented: David Bergman Amnesty International’s last statement I thought got the balance quite right – it supported the processes toward removing impunity for crimes committed in 1971 but at the same time raised issues about the fairness of the process. Those who you are likely to be with at the protest, however are not concerned about the process, and would be happy for these men to be strung up however abusive the process may be. In fact you are lucky that AI have hardly been following the trial – so they do not understand the shenanigans that have been going on, otherwise they would I am sure put a much harsher criticism in their press releases.
Well!!! Now Sahgal shares a status of David on SHAHBAGH’s demanding DEATH PENALTY on a subjudice matter:
Gita Sahgal, producer of the film, was profiled by The Daily Star on April 20, 2012 issue and there are many things about the film and Bergman. Read here.
Sahgal, a former Amnesty International unit chief, says she was 14 when the war took place, and through newspapers and discussions she was deeply affected, especially by an article on genocide, rape and women found locked up in Pakistani army camps violated. In 2004, Sahgal was the “first to point out how rape and sexual abuse are used as a deliberate military strategy”.
Bergman and Sahgal met in mid ‘80s while working on Bhopal disaster in India.
They started research on the rumours they had heard and later concentrated on three persons – Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, who was the Al-Badr commander, and Abu Sayeed and Lutfor Rahman, peace committee members from Sylhet district.
It was tough filming in Bangladesh during the BNP government but better in the UK since the Labour Party assisted the team. The film won the Royal Television Society Award and was well regarded as investigative journalism. There were some treats too. Yet “War Crimes File” is widely distributed in Bangladesh and screened regularly.
She was also critical of Jamaat over its efforts to impede the trials by creating pressure through appointed lobbyists, questioning its standard… “Basically, the defence is creating a kind of smokes screen, saying we are going to have trial but then creating impossible conditions for the trial to be held.”