|Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed
Press Statement from Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed- USA
Wednesday March 21 2007 17:37:21 PM BDT
Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed, USA
The events leading up to the coup in 1975 are well known to all of the Bangladeshi people, and the events cannot be denied. In 1974, Sheik Mujibur declared a national emergency and suppressed all democratic activities, and opponents. Freedom of speech was taken away from Bangladeshi citizens, and all fundamental rights were suspended.
As I prepare for this next stage in my life, I look back on the road, which has brought me to this point.By way of background, I joined the Pakistan military in 1966, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1967. After the war of liberation with Pakistan, I was held in confinement in a Pakistani concentration camp from 1972 to 1974. I was then repatriated to Bangladesh in 1974. I then honorably served in the Bangladesh military from 1974 to 1975. Thereafter, I served in the diplomatic service until 1996.
The events leading up to the coup in 1975 are well known to all of the Bangladeshi people, and the events cannot be denied. In 1974, Sheik Mujibur declared a national emergency and suppressed all democratic activities, and opponents. Freedom of speech was taken away from Bangladeshi citizens, and all fundamental rights were suspended. In January 1975, one-party rule under BAKSAL was introduced, and Sheik Mujibur became Prime Minster/President.
By all reasonable and accurate accounts, Bangladesh was then suffering through a period of famine, poverty, and political instability. Those familiar with this period in Bangladesh’s history remember that Bangladesh was a dictatorship. One need only open a Bangladeshi newspaper from 1972 to 1975 to appreciate that Bangladesh my country was then a dictatorship.
People of Bangladesh cannot deny the difficulties of that period in our history. Nor can they rewrite that period, and transform it into a renaissance of freedom and democracy. Those who attempt to do so are not being historically accurate.
It was during those times that I served honorably as a Major in the Bangladeshi army - First Bengal Lancers Regiment. I, like many other young officers, was not immune to the suffering that Bangladesh experienced during that time.
With this as a backdrop, the 1975 Coup occurred. At that time, I was a relatively junior officer who had limited responsibilities, but a healthy respect for the military chain of command. On the night of the Coup in 1975, I was on normal night maneuvers, when I was notified by superior officers that a peaceful coup would occur within hours. Myself and others believed that the orders we received were lawful, and that that they were transmitted through the appropriate chain of command. As a Major in the Military, my orders were clear, and the results of refusing a lawful order were equally clear, including military arrest, and facing a firing squad.
Of course, the political history of Southeast Asia and Pakistan suggested to all of us that peaceful coups were possible, and that the peaceful transition from dictatorship to multi-party rule was possible without bloodshed. At that time, there were no reasons for me to believe that the coup would be anything other than peaceful.
Again, those of us who followed orders that evening were under the impression that a peaceful coup was in motion to remove the existing government, and set up a new national government with honest and efficient politicians whose first interest was that of the people of Bangladesh. The hope was that a peaceful transition to a multi-party democratic system would occur.
Regarding my orders, I was to position my troops at a crossroad, which I understood to be located more than a mile from one of the Presidential homes. I was to supervise my troops, and await further orders. At no time was I, or my troops, involved in any violence. The statements that I was present in the Prime Minister’s house at the time of his death are utterly false.
It is an unfortunate and regrettable fact that Sheik Mujibur Rahman and some members of his family and political party were killed during the 1975 coup. I do not believe that the loss of life was contemplated that night, nor justified.
Many other countries including China and Saudi Arabia recognized the new government of Bangladesh. Moreover, the entire political outlook of Bangladesh switched from a one-party authoritarian rule to a multi-party system modeled after the West.
After the Coup, the new government, through an ordinance, indemnified all military officers for their actions. The ordinance provided that no member of the military would face criminal prosecution or liability before any Court in Bangladesh. This ordinance was later ratified by more than a 2/3 majority of members of the Bangladesh parliament, thus making this clause a part of the Bangladeshi constitution.
After the Coup, I served the interest of Bangladesh in the Diplomatic corps, and in highly responsible positions. It was my great honor to represent the Bangladesh people in Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Thailand.
For those who may not know, Sheik Mujibur Rahman’s surviving daughter, Sheik Hassina, later rose to leadership in the Awami League, and eventually ran for Prime Minster, seeking to overturn the constitution, which protected members of the military who served in 1975. In 1991 Sheik Hassina lost an election bid due to the fact that public opinion was against what was widely perceived as a platform of revenge. In subsequent years, from 1991 to 1996, Sheik Hassina modified her objective and rhetoric. Sheik Hassina changed her colors and claimed to be seeking reconciliation, and offered forgiveness.
With her new platform of reconciliation and forgiveness, Sheik Hassina became Prime Minister in 1996. Those statements of reconciliation and forgiveness were disingenuous, however, as one of her first official acts as prime minister of Bangladesh was to overturn the constitutional protections provided to myself and others. She accomplished this by leading the repeal of the indemnity act in parliament without the constitutionally required 2/3 majority. Sheik Hassina then spearheaded the prosecution of all of the military officers who served in 1975 and who were serving abroad as diplomats. Of course, officers who served in 1975 and who joined the Awami league were free from prosecution. Clearly, the condition to avoid prosecution was to acquiesce to Sheik Hassina party and political goals.
Presently, I have exhausted my legal remedies before the US Court of Appeals, and I have been detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security pending my removal to Bangladesh.
With my removal imminent, I am now preparing to face my accusers in Bangladesh, and fight the in absentia verdict which calls for my execution. By many accounts, the Court in Bangladesh, which was convened to judge myself and others, was NOT free of political influence. This is evident from numerous newspaper reports of the time. In fact, the lawyer appointed to defend my rights before the Bangladeshi Court was chosen by Sheik Hassina’s party! A review of the Court transcripts shows that the lawyer did not object to any evidence presented against me, nor did he provide any exculpatory evidence. Even other lawyers defending the other defendants were openly harassed and threatened with dire consequences including one lawyer who was stripped and beaten by a partisan crowd within the Court premises itself.
Now, over the years, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh has repeatedly recused itself from hearing the appeals arising out of that trial. To use their term, the Supreme Court in Bangladesh has expressed its “embarrassment” regarding the verdict. At one point even the chief justice of the Bangladeshi Supreme Court presiding at the time questioned why the Bangladeshi government wanted to figuratively shoot the gun on the Court’s shoulders.
It is my intentions, upon return to Bangladesh, to challenge the verdict in my case, and reopen the proceedings to confront witnesses against me, as well as to present evidence that shows that I was not involved in the killing of Sheik Mujibar. I further intend to show that the original trial court was unduly influenced by Sheik Hassina in her quest for revenge.
Today, we are preparing the appropriate legal documents to start our defense in Bangladesh, and to once again open the record for a full and fair hearing. In light of the composition of the caretaker government, and its relative freedom from the Awami league forces, now is the time for such a review.
Those who support me, my colleagues, and the Bangladesh constitution must know that this is not the end. Rather, it will be the beginning of legal proceedings in Bangladesh which will once and for all expose the misdeeds of Sheik Hassina and the trial which has split Bangladesh down its middle.
My attorney in America is Mr. Joseph Sandoval and he will be working with my attorneys in Bangladesh.
Mohiuddin AKM Ahmed
E Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Views Expressed in this write up are strictly Personnel opinion of the writer