Travesty of truth, justice
BANGLADESH Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s statement at a press conference on Tuesday that the ruling Awami League and the joint forces should be held responsible for the killing of about 300 leaders and activists of her party between December 26 and January 27, and also for the subsequent disappearances, appears to have some truth in it; reports in the media testify quite sufficiently, with facts and figures, to the content of her statement. As such, AL presidium member Mohammad Nasim’s remark on Wednesday, as reported in New Age on Thursday, that Khaleda’s claims were false, that no BNP man was killed by the joint forces, and that those who were ‘punished’ by the joint forces were criminals sounds more like a travesty of truth.
Moreover, his argument that the AL government is right to have ordered the joint forces’ drive to curb anarchy by ‘punishing’ criminals since restoration of peace is the prime responsibility of an elected government sounds not only overstretched but also amounts to an affront to the rule of law. After all, the rule of law dictates that even the vilest of criminals reserves the right to be defended in the court of law and does not permit any individual or group to play the role of prosecutor, juror and executioner all rolled into one.
It is worth noting that such defence of extrajudicial killing by members of the police, the Rapid Action Battalion and some other law enforcement agencies has come to characterise the AL-led political elite since they came to power in January 2009. Through the tenure of the previous government, AL stalwarts sought to defend such killings on the ground of law enforcers’ fundamental rights to ‘self-defence’ although the party promised in its 2008 election manifesto effective measures to stop extrajudicial killing.
What the incumbents need to realise that extrajudicial killing ultimately weakens the fabric of the state and society and could push the country into utter lawlessness. Hence, they need to institute independent inquiry into each and every incident of extrajudicial murder, identify the perpetrators and have them prosecuted and punished. Meanwhile, the rights-conscious sections of society need to raise their voice against extrajudicial killing and mobilise public opinion so that the incumbents take effective steps to put an end to such killings.
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