Mir Quasem Ali

Mir Quasem Ali (31 December 1952 – 3 September 2016) was a Bangladeshi businessman, philanthropist and politician. He was a former director of Islami Bank, and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns Diganta TV.[1][2] He founded the Ibn Sina Trust and was a key figure in the establishment of the NGO Rabita al-Alam al-Islami.[3] He was considered to be the wealthiest member of the Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami.[4] He was sentenced to death on 2 November 2014 for crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 by International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.[1][5] The charges were denied by his relatives, stating they were politically motivated.[6] Rights groups also raised concerns about these cases, with Amnesty International criticising the use of the death penalty and saying Mir Quasem Ali's trial had been unfair.[7] He was hanged at Gazipur on 3 September 2016[8] after his final appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.[9]

Quasem Ali
Mir Quasem Ali.jpg
Born(1952-12-31)31 December 1952
Died3 September 2016(2016-09-03) (aged 63)
Kashimpur Prison, Gazipur, Bangladesh
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
Citizenship Pakistani (1952-1971)
 Bangladeshi (1971-2016)
Occupation
  • Politician
  • businessman
Political partyJamaat-e-Islami
Conviction(s)14 charges including murder, arson and torture
Criminal penaltyDeath by hanging

Early lifeEdit

Mir Quasem Ali was born to Mir Tayeb Ali and Rabeya Begum. He was born in Munsidangi Sutalori in Manikganj on 31 December 1952. He joined the Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1967 while studying in Chittagong Collegiate School.[2][10]

BusinessEdit

Mir Quasem Ali was a former director of Islami Bank, and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns Diganta TV. He founded the Ibn Sina Trust and was a key figure in the establishment of the NGO Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. He was the chairman of Keari Ltd, Association of Multipurpose Welfare Agencies of Bangladesh and Agro Industrial Trust, director of marketing of Ibn Sina Pharmaceutical Industries, member secretary of Fouad Al-Khateeb Charity Foundation. He was part of management in Industrialists and Businessmen Welfare Foundation, Allama Iqbal Sangsad, International Islamic University Chittagong, Darul Ihsan University, Centre for Strategy and Peace Studies.[11]

Bangladesh Liberation WarEdit

Mir Quasem was a first-year student of Chittagong College in 1971, where he was pursuing a bachelor's degree in physics. He was the president of Chittagong Chhatra Sangha's unit. He was elected to the Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha's provincial working council on 6 November. He was also general secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha.[3] Al-Badr was a paramilitary force composed of Jamaat e Islami's then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha to support Pakistan army and crackdown on pro liberation groups.[12] Al-Badr branch of Chittagong seized Mohamaya Bhaban building at Andrrkilla. The building was owned by a local Hindu family. They renamed it "Dalim Hotel" and used it as an interrogation and detention centre. Pro- Bangladeshi activists Jahangir Alam Chowdhury and Syed Md Emran testified at Quasem's trial that the prison was used to torture suspected members of Mukti Bahini; Mukti Bahini members "Jasim", Tuntu Sen and Ranjit Das were killed at this place. Witnesses testified at the trial that guards at hotel Dalim would announce the arrival of Quasem with "Mr Quasem has come. Mr Commander has come."[13]

BangladeshEdit

After independence Quasem fled to Saudi Arabia. He returned to Bangladesh and became the founding president of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the Jamaat's student front, on 6 February 1977. The organisation is a successor to the Islami Chhatra Sangha.[3][14]

TrialEdit

Out of the 14 charges, Quasem was convicted of 10 charges in the trial at International Crimes Tribunal and he was awarded death sentence for two of the charges including murder and kidnapping.[15] After the announcement of the verdict of the trial the lawyers from the defence said that justice had not been done for Quasem and he did not get proper judgment.[16] Gonojagoron Moncho supported the verdict and expressed satisfaction.[17] The defence pledged an appeal to Bangladesh High court. Quasem's political Party Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide three days strike as a protest over the verdict.[16] He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.[9] The supreme court rejected the review petition on 30 August 2016,[18] and Ali refused to seek clemency.[4]

Employment of US lobby firmEdit

In 2010, Just after formation of the International Crimes Tribunal, Quasem signed 25 million US dollar deal with most influential US lobby firm Cassidy & Associates to influence US government to foil the war crimes trial process.[19] In 2011 Quasem and his brother Mir Masum Ali again hired the same firm for the same purpose and paid $310,000 and that was the largest amount paid by any client in the first quarter of 2011.[20] Not only that, in 2014 sympathizer groups from the US again signed contract with Cassidy & Associates to lobby for the same cause and promised to pay $50,000. Later Cassidy & Associates sub-contracted the task to another 2 firms named Cloakroom Advisors and Kgloba. Besides this, another pro-Jamaat-e-islami organization appointed another lobbying firm named 'Just Consulting LLC' which was later renamed 'Grieboski Global Strategies' to influence the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the US Department of State and the US Congress against the war crimes trials.[20]

ControversyEdit

Some critics of the current Bangladeshi Government said that Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of the country used the trials to target her political enemies.[21]

In 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that Mir Quasem Ali's trial was flawed.[2] It demanded a moratorium on the death penalty, after details emerged that the prosecution had for producing insufficient evidence in court.[2][22] Brad Adams of HRW stated: "Allowing the death sentence in a case with such fundamental doubts about the evidence is unthinkable."[22]

Amnesty International raised serious concerns about the court proceedings. These include denying defence lawyers adequate time to prepare their cases, and arbitrarily limiting the number of witnesses they could call on. It urged the Bangladeshi government to annul the death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali and grant him a retrial, noting how the proceedings had reportedly been "marred" by irregularities.[2][23] Amnesty spokeswoman Champa Patel said:

The people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence. The continued use of the death penalty will not achieve this. It only serves to inflame domestic tensions and further divide a society riven by violence.[23]

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also alleged that Mir Quasem Ali's son, Ahmed Bin Quasem, was arrested on 9 August 2016 and has since disappeared. Amnesty says multiple credible sources place him at Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) headquarters in Dhaka on 12 August, but authorities have denied having him in custody.[24]

ExecutionEdit

Mir Quasem Ali was hanged at Kashimpur Prison in Gazipur on 3 September 2016.[4][8]

There were reports of street celebrations held in Dhaka and Chittagong after the news of Ali's execution was broadcast live on television.[4]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Bangladesh executes last prominent Jamaat leader". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Anadolu Agency. "Bangladesh Jamaat leader hanged for alleged war crimes". www.aa.com.tr/en. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "War crimes verdict on Mir Quasem Ali Sunday". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Bangladesh hangs tycoon for 'war crimes'". PressTV. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Bangladesh: Halt Imminent War Crimes Executions". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Jamaat leader given death sentence". Aljazeera. 2 November 2014.
  7. ^ Michael Sercan Daventry-Anadolu Agency. "World 'ignoring Bangladeshi executions'". www.aa.com.tr/en. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Bangladesh executes last prominent Jamaat leader". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Submit concise statements on Quasem plea in 4 weeks: SC". The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  10. ^ "War trial: Mir Quasem verdict Sunday". The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  11. ^ "War trial: Mir Quasem verdict Sunday". The Daily Star. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  12. ^ Manik, Julfikar Ali. "Al-Badr commander Mir Quasem to die". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  13. ^ Chowdhury, Minto; Huq, Quazi Shahreen. "Mir Quasem's Dalim Hotel was a 'death factory'". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  14. ^ Supreme Court Correspondent. "Deadline for Mir Quasem appeal summary extended by four weeks". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Death for Quasem:10 out of 14 charges proved". The Daily Star. 2 November 2014.
  16. ^ a b Paul, Ruma. "Bangladesh Islamist leader sentenced to death for war crimes". Reuters. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Gonojagoron Moncho happy with Quasem verdict". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  18. ^ "War crimes: Jamaat's moneyman Quasem hanged". The Daily Star. 3 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  19. ^ Emran Hossain (3 November 2014). "$25m helped, not that much: US lobbyist hired 'unlawfully' to upset war crimes trial". The Daily Star. Dhaka. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Quasem was desperate to stay alive". Dhaka Tribune. 3 September 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2018. ... in 2013 announced that it had acquired the receipt of Quasem paying $25m to appoint a lobbyist firm – Washington-based Cassidy & Associates – to cast doubt and raise questions about the war crimes trials... In 2011, Quasem and his brother Mir Masum Ali hired Cassidy & Associates for $310,000 to influence US politicians and government officials against the tribunal proceedings... New York-based Organisation for Peace and Justice (OPJ) appointed Cassidy & Associates in April 2014 to "engage members of the US Congress to support a congressional resolution condemning the actions of the ICT [International Crimes Tribunal] and to use best efforts to include anti-ICT legislative language" in the legislative bodies. The OPJ is run by sympathisers of Jamaat and its mission is to assist the party and its members in Bangladesh. Cassidy then sub-contracted two other firms named Cloakroom Advisors and Kglobal. Both firms were appointed to carry out the same tasks as Cassidy; but in addition, they would "conduct outreach to the Department of State (South and Central Asia Bureau and International Operations)." As per the contract, the Organisation for Peace and Justice was supposed to pay Cassidy a total of $50,000 over a period of three months as a lobbying fee. The second pro-Jamaat organisation that is lobbying against the war crimes trial in the USA is called the Human Rights Development in Bangladesh (HRDB). In March 2014, the HRDB appointed another US lobbyist firm Just Consulting LLC which was later renamed Grieboski Global Strategies. Grieboski was tasked with reaching out to and influencing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the US Department of State and the US Congress against the war crimes trials.
  21. ^ Zain Al-Mahmood, Syed (2 November 2014). "Bangladesh Court Sentences Islamist Politician Mir Quasem Ali to Death". Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ a b "Bangladesh: War Crimes Verdict Based on Flawed Trial". 23 March 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  23. ^ a b "Bangladesh: Halt imminent execution of Mir Quasem Ali after unfair trial". Amnesty International. Amnesty International. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Amnesty, HRW condemn 'detention' of SQ Chy, Mir Quasem's sons". The Daily Star. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.