How deep the rabbit hole goes!

December 11, 2012
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On Dec 6, 2012, the Chairman of the International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) Justice Nizamul Huq issued an order asking two editors of Economist, the London based weekly, to explain the illegally obtained materials including bugged conversations and hacked emails that were in possession. Immediately after that a number of known pro-Jamat websites and Facebook groups started publishing excerpts of some alleged conversation that took place between Justice Huq and Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, a Brussels based expert in international criminal law. On December 8, the Economist published a blog titled “Discrepancy in Dhaka”. Right around the same time AmarDesh, a pro-BNP/Jamat newspaper published a transcript of the alleged conversation. The timing of the publications, both of the blog published in the Economist and the AmarDesh exclusive is curious as they were published almost simultaneously. It is important to note that no other pro-‘71 or neutral media platform published any excerpts of the alleged conversation so far. I carefully went through the Economist blog and the so-called transcript of the alleged “private” conversation published in AmarDesh.

While reading them, a number of questions came to mind:

1. How do we know that these illegally obtained materials (which AmarDesh published) have not been tampered with? How do we know things were not edited out or edited in to piece together this so-called damning evidence to suit the purpose and agenda of the hacker? How will Economist establish the authenticity of these recordings now since they are claiming not to be the one to have recorded them?

What is actually happening here? Amar Desh clearly mentions at the beginning of their transcript that they have obtained it from a source outside the country. Did they mean the Economist? They must have been referring to the Economist because only they admitted to be in possession of such material up till that point. Who did the Jamati social platform sites got their hacked materials from? The Economist? If not, then the case looks even worse for the Economist because that would mean that AmarDesh and the Jamati groups must have hacked these information and passed them on to the Economist which should have immediately put them on alert about the authenticity of these materials before they quickly jumped to run this story and contact a sitting Judge (Justice Huq). I think there is a good case for ruling out any neutral source as the possible hacker because a neutral (or an insider) source will understandably want to make the information public or go to the relevant authority rather than going only to the pro-defence, pro BNP and rabid pro-Jamat groups first.

2. According to the Economist blog, they are still in the process of investigating the content of the hacked material that they are in possession of. Why they then contacted a sitting judge (apparently ruling on a very sensitive proceeding) without authenticating their information first? How could they think that publishing or even contacting the Judge would be for greater “public interest” without even being sure of their authenticity?

What is more worrying in this whole fiasco is the question that what else have been hacked? The trial strategy? Other sensitive information and other correspondences of the judges? Information about the witnesses? Is that why a number of witnesses in the recent past declined to give evidence? Is that how one of the witnesses (Sukhranjan Bali) went missing? Have people other than the judges been hacked and tapped? Who would ensure their safety now?

3. Even if we take the transcripts of these alleged conversations at face value, what do they actually establish? AmarDesh piece insinuates pressures from the Government to have a judgement fast. Even if that is true, where is the wrong in wanting a speedy judgement? Many civil society members as well as other political parties have been voicing their demands for a speedy judgment. What we need to see is whether Justice Huq bowed down to this pressure and compromised the fairness of the process in some way. The answer to this question is a big no. If he had crumbled under pressure of the government, we would not have seen the tribunal taking three years to come out with a judgment. They would have come out with a judgment long ago. On the contrary, we learn from the same transcript that both Dr Ziauddin and Justice Huq specifically voicing their opinions in favour of a judgement that complies with the international standard and about ways to resist outside pressures for a so called speedy judgment.

4. Based on the AmarDesh piece, a known quarter is also trying to insinuate that the judgment has already been prepared by Justice Huq with the help of Dr Ziauddin but the transcript if read carefully, clearly shows that as an International Criminal Law expert Dr Ziauddin is actually discussing about the “structure” of the judgment NOT the actual judgment (i.e., guilty or not guilty verdict). And if the verdict has already been prepared (as insinuated) where is that judgment? Why did the AmarDesh, Economist or any other sources failed to show a single copy of that pre-written conviction? They have admittedly hacked the computers, so surely they would have found such a document if that had been really the case.

5. The Economist blog also raised the question that why during their phone conversation with the Economist reporter, Justice Huq did not mention that he gets research help from people like Dr Ziauddin and other experts and activists who have been working relentlessly to support the justice process. As an answer to this question my personal opinion is that he is in no way obliged to disclose this information to a journalist who approached him in an inappropriate manner. Instead Justice Huq wisely chose to reveal this information in an open court on 6 December as we all know.

There are countless people all over the world committed to end impunity for the crimes of 1971. We do not know their names, but they are providing a great and heroic service to this process from their own respective positions. They are not, and should not be, subjects of newspaper scoops or exclusives or any kind of harassments – our media should know that. If anything, they deserve our gratitude. Almost seven decades have passed since the Second World War ended. Hitler and his forces of evil were defeated and made to pay their dues for their crimes against mankind. We salute the heroes who bravely fought to make this a better and safer world for generations that came after that.

Do we know the names of those heroes who changed the course of the history? Do we know the names of those brave ladies who worked in the bomb making factories risking their lives and ended up being disfigured for life? We don’t, but that is alright. Not all heroes expect songs or laurels or rewards or any kind of recognition for their sacrifices. Because this is how this crazy thing called “commitment to justice” works. Like the millions that sacrificed fighting for our Bangladesh, these supporters of the ICTs have also worked day and night, making all kinds of sacrifices just because they hold their country close to their heart. You may call them crazy, but I guess that is alright too.

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10 Responses to How deep the rabbit hole goes!

  1. December 11, 2012 at 1:19 am

    You can follow through some of the audio here if you like.

    http://vimeo.com/user15145873/videos

    However, it makes your effort ^ a bit redundant and suggest that there is a little political education to be had out there. blind awami leaguism is not longer possible.

  2. December 11, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Fugstar, what a name to take, huh

    really, do you think spreading immoral and stolen items makes it legit ? Blind ‘Goebbels Lie’ practice is a thing of past, you know what i’m sayn..?

  3. A R
    December 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

    One type of injustice cannot wipe out another. This tribunal is a disgrace to Bangladesh’s name and anyone in favour of democracy and justice should demand a retrial.

    Anyone who has heard the recordings would be convinced of their authenticity. No amount of excuse-making can justify a sitting judge being instructed by someone who is also aiding the prosecution.

  4. meeceel
    December 11, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Based on the AmarDesh piece, a known quarter is also trying to insinuate that the judgment has already been prepared by Justice Huq with the help of Dr Ziauddin but the transcript if read carefully, clearly shows that as an International Criminal Law expert Dr Ziauddin is actually discussing about the “structure” of the judgment NOT the actual judgment (i.e., guilty or not guilty verdict). And if the verdict has already been prepared (as insinuated) where is that judgment? Why did the AmarDesh, Economist or any other sources failed to show a single copy of that pre-written conviction? They have admittedly hacked the computers, so surely they would have found such a document if that had been really the case.

  5. Justice Not Revenge
    December 11, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Given the ICT has gone into crisis management mode with justice Nizam being called to resign, it is pretty clear the leaked material is real. And given their content is so hugely damning in implicating both the government and ‘advisors’ who (based on the audios) advise both judge and prosecution, in fashioning a political theatre and calling it a court of justice – it is pretty clear that the overriding issue here is the public interest in the content, not the source. First address the real issues, rather than seeking to shoot the messenger. Forcing revenge makes us no better than those who committed the crimes in the first place, nor does it achieve justice and catharsis.
    By the way, it is incredibly ironic that you invoke Goebbel’s Lie, Arif.

  6. Khondkar Abdus Saleque
    December 11, 2012 at 6:14 am

    What are the contexts here? Trial of War Criminals and their abettors. The butchers of 1971 planned Genocide in Bangladesh are under trial. The International War Criminal Court in Bangladesh will give judgement based on evidences and arguments of both sides . Judge can seek assistance of experts in clarifying matters . Can any media violate the written or unwritten ethics of journalism? Can any leading news media base its report on hacked E-mails or pilfered personal information without making thorough investigations on their authenticity ? BNP , Jamat are their alligned media are in propaganda mission to bring disrepute to trail process of War Criminals with an ulterior motive to protect them . How can the reported communication/ consultation of the Judge and an expert impact on Justice?
    The author here has raised many pertinent questions . The ill motives of a vested quarter is vindicated from the Economist and Amar Desh reports .

  7. Justice for Bangladesh
    December 11, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I don’t understand how people can call the conversation a damning evidence. This conversation is a solid proof that the tribunal is acting independently, despite pressure from the govt. for a quick verdict. Not only that, the justice is consulting renowned professionals to create a template for the judgement that will be indisputable.

    But if you guys do not want a judgement, then it’s a different story. Have no doubt Bangalis, these people are known criminals. You don’t need a court order to see that. The whole legal process is for the sake of the civilized judicial system that we have in our country.

  8. Arman Rashid
    December 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    ‘Justice not Revenge’, recently I’ve been hearing that phrase very frequently. Sometimes, some British blogger expresses this concern, other times it is the Defense team or their political affiliates. When the mother of rape victim or the wife of a murder victim goes to the court, they all are seeking Justice, but when a nation calls for trials for ravaging their motherland, their motive is interpreted as revenge!!!

    Anyone listening to these conversations can conclude the following:
    1. Neither Dr. Ziauddin, nor Justice Hoque are party men and the judge is not caving into political pressure.
    2. They both are working hard to ensure that the final outcome of these trials can pass both national (appeal court) and international scrutiny.
    3. It is said many times, that the final judgement must explain all the rulings and decisions made by the tribunal throughout its course.

    The only unbiased conclusion that one can come up with will be that the Judge is doing his best (even if it requires taking expert advise) to ensure transparency. Judicial process doesn’t have any room for public debate or press conferences, the judgment itself is used to prove the transparency of all the decisions. Thats what is prevalent in these alleged discussions.

  9. Nabafuture
    December 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    The Awami League (AL) thinking and emotion are so twisted and mad that very few rational minds will continue to follow their strange (un) logical process of coming to conclusions. One guy from the AL camp claimed (Economist comments) that ‘Saydee, muzahid, nizami, Golam Azam are self-declared war criminal’? I have never heard of that before. In the past and to an extent still today Awami League people continue to convince a lot of people with their big mouth, instilling fear and juxtaposing of various information to make big conclusions (inappropriately and illogically). They got away with that because many people were sleeping. Now that more and more people in Bangladesh are waking up the Awami League and Bengali Nationalism will find that the party is over.

  10. janota
    December 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Yes the judgement should based on the real thing. Not a spoker like a doll to set as witness. Even when the real witness is arrested at day light in front of crowd it is denied that no one did it instead witness is missing. How funny it is ?

    A play that we saw nice. In addition to this by forcing judge to give verdict against for which there is no legal claim is it legit? We expect the people who are truly involve in killing and any other destructive activities what ever it happens in 1971 or today must be punished. But that must in a free , fair and neutral way by not forcing by some one or something else.Then everyone will support this. Otherwise it will loss its fairness,isn’t it?

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