Quilliam has long maintained that human rights must form the basis of any security policy, military action or judicial procedures, and that countering extremism is most effective with a human rights-based approach. Indeed, in this battle of ideas against extremism of all kinds, legal norms must be upheld at all times.

For this reason, we utterly condemn and reject the unfair trial and judicial murder of Abdel Qader Mollah, the former assistant secretary general of the Bangladeshi Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami. The so-called International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh uses questionable evidence, false testimony and has corrupted the separation between the executive and the judiciary as explained here. Likewise, we oppose the similar treatment that Delwar Hossain Sayeedi is facing and urge the international community to take immediate action to prevent the continuation of future miscarriages of justice.

Our opposition to Islamism and the alleged war crimes of 1971, including the death of a great number of civilians, likely perpetrated by Pakistani troops and allied Islamist groups, is clear. We also deplore the recent violence that has targeted anti-Jamaat-e-Islami protestors and believe perpetrators and inciters of such violence also need to face justice.

By conducting unfair trials, the ICT risks further destabilising Bangladesh and exacerbating the cycle of violence at this critical juncture. Justice, based in human rights and international law, is essential to end this cycle and catalyse a process of reconciliation in Bangladesh. We call on the Awami League Government, headed by Sheikh Hasina, to recognise the importance of a national reconciliation procedure based on fair trials rather than revenge for purely political ends.

Indeed, this failure to uphold the rule of law for Islamism-related offences also holds significance beyond Bangladesh. The current leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri, issued a statement in January, calling for a mass public uprising (intifada) in Bangladesh against the state. The potential for this crisis to escalate within Bangladesh, and impact on the sizeable Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK and around the world, engaging extremist networks globally, is significant and worrying.

Quilliam, therefore, urges the international community in general, and the ICT in particular, to take quick action to suspend the trials, with a view to holding the trials outside of Bangladesh under international jurisdiction, as previously called for. We also urge widespread support for a future national reconciliation procedure, leading to justice and peace.

5 February 2014

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