Delwar Hossain Sayeedi
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|Delwar Hossain Sayeedi|
|Deputy Ameer [President] of
|Member of Parliament
12 June 1996 – 29 December 2008
|Preceded by||Shudangsu Shekhor Halder|
|Succeeded by||AKMA Awal (Saidur Rahman)|
1 February 1940 |
Delwar Hossain Sayeedi (Bengali: দেলাওয়ার হোসাইন সাঈদী; born 1 February 1940) is a Bangladeshi Islamist politician, and Muslim cleric. He is the Nayeb-e-Ameer or the Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islami[dead link] and was an elected member of the National Assembly of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2008. On 28 February 2013, he was convicted of crimes against humanity including murder, arson, looting, rape, and forcefully converting people to Islam during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
On 4 October 2011, he was indicted on 20 counts of crimes against humanity by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act (1973). The tribunal has been strongly criticised by international observers. Sayeedi was convicted on 8 charges on 28 February 2013 and was sentenced to death for two of the charges.
In 2004 Sayeedi was included in the No Fly List maintained by United States government's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). He has made speeches against the western world in the aftermath of the US-UK combined attack on Afganistan in 2001 to unseat the Taliban. He was also criticized for his comments on journalists who published reports about his activities in 1971, which were seen as threatening press freedom.
Early life 
Delwar Sayeedi was born 1 February 1940, in a village located in Indurkani, Pirojpur (Barisal Division), present-day Bangladesh. His father Yusuf Sayedee was an Islamic orator. The boy was known as "Delwar Shikder" among the local people. He received his first primary religious education at his local village madrassa, which was built by his father.
He attended the Sarsina Alia Madrasah in 1962, followed by the Khulna Alia Madrasah. Sayeedi started a business in a local village market after completing his religious studies. He was recognized as a Muslim cleric, or Maulana. In 1971 he was only 30 years old. In his judgment by the ICT, he was accused of being on intimate terms with Pakistan military at Pirojpur during 1971 Bangladesh liberation war and having done many crimes against humanity and opposing the independence of Bangladesh. However, according to his son Masud Sayeedi he was not in Pirojpur in 1971 and he lived in Jessore since 1969.
Bangladesh liberation war 
Longstanding tensions between the eastern province of Bangladesh and the majority government based in western Pakistan gave rise in 1971 to the Bangladesh liberation war. Residents of the region were divided in their loyalties. Sayeedi, then about 30 years old, opposed the independence of Bangladesh. He is convicted of having supported & actively helped the Pakistani military as a collaborator. In some cases the fighting devolved into insurgent and sectarian warfare, with Hindu communities attacked, and paramilitary groups operating independently of national armies. Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971. He was notoriously known as "Deilla Razakar" during the liberation war. His defence at the ICT trials, however, have argued that this was a case of mistaken identity saying that the notorious Delwar Hossain Shikdar alias "Deilla Razakar" had been apprehended and executed by freedom fighters after the war.
Entry into politics 
In the early 1980s, Sayeedi started arranging waj mahfil. He spoke in support of Islam in different parts of the country. As he was a good orator, his fame spread quickly and he decided to enter politics.
Having gained recognition, he was elected as a member of parliament in the 1996 and 2001 national elections of Bangladesh.
Sayeedi is fluent in Urdu, Bengali, Arabic, and Punjabi and has a basic knowledge of English.
Critic of 2001 war in Afghanistan 
Sayeedi strongly criticized the United States and Northern Alliance effort, beginning in the fall of 2001 to overturn the Taliban government in Afghanistan and root out al-Qaeda, the Islamist terrorist organisation that conducted the 9/11 attacks in the United States. He accused the US and United Kingdom of interfering with the government of a Muslim country.
Because of what were considered increasingly extremist views against western nations, in 2004, the United States Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) added Sayeedi to its No Fly List, established to prevent suspected radicals and terrorists from flying into the US.
Foreign travel controversy 
In July 2006 Sayeedi travelled to the UK to address rallies in London and Luton; his entry was cleared by the foreign office. Many British MPs considered his admission to the country to be controversial. In leaked emails reported by The Times, an adviser, Eric Taylor, said that Sayeedi’s "previous visits to the UK have been reportedly marred by violence caused by his supporters."
On 13 July 2006, the British journalist Martin Bright released a documentary called Who Speaks For Muslims? It included Sayeedi and identified him as having extreme views. Sayeedi has a large following within the British Bangladeshi community. He was invited to speak at the East London Mosque on 14 July 2006; the then-secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, supported his invitation.
Government investigation of war crimes during liberation war 
In the twenty-first century, the Bangladesh government established an International Crimes Tribunal to hear cases resulting from investigations of war crimes during the struggle for independence. It was an effort to "provide justice for victims of atrocities in the 1971 war of independence." There had been longstanding accounts of abuses during the war, including forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, sectarian attacks on minority Hindu communities, raping of women, and attacks on unarmed civilians, among the excesses. On 24 July 2009, immigration officials at Zia International Airport prevented Sayeedi from going abroad. He challenged the Government's restriction by filing a writ petition with the High Court on 27 July. The Attorney General stated before the Chamber Judge that Maulana Sayeedi had opposed the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. He argued that if Sayeedi was not barred from foreign travel, he might work against the government's efforts to bring justice for war crimes during that conflict. Human Rights Watch in November 2011 criticised the conduct of the ICT, suggesting that it has not provided enough protection for the defense of the accused. It has said that "lawyers representing the accused before the ICT have reported being harassed by state officials and threatened with arrests. Several witnesses and an investigator working for the defense have also reported harassment by police and threats for cooperating with the defense." "Human Rights Watch has long called for the ICT to establish an effective victim and witness program which would ensure protection for both prosecution and defense witnesses. Changes to the ICT rules in June 2011, which authorized the tribunal to ensure the physical well-being of victims and witnesses, were a welcome improvement, but did not go far enough, Human Rights Watch said."
War crimes trials 
Mahbubul Alam Howladar, a former freedom fighter, and now member and deputy commander of the freedom fighters association called Zianagor upazila Muktijoddha Sangsad, filed charges against Sayeedi with the Pirojpur senior judicial magistrate's court in Zianagar.
The war crime trials of Sayeedi began on 20 November 2011 at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh. The tribunal charged him with twenty counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and arson, during the liberation war. Some of the charges are (a) passing secret information on the gathering of people behind the Madhya Masimpur bus-stand to the Pakistan Army, and leading the Army there, where 20 unnamed people were killed by shooting; (b) abducting and killing of government officials (deputy magistrate – Saif Mizanur Rahman, sub-divisional police officer – Foyezur Rahman Ahmed, and sub-divisional officer – Abdur Razzak) of Pirojpur; (c) identifying and looting the houses and shops of people belonging to the Awami League, Hindu community, and supporters of the Liberation War at Parerhat Bazar under Pirojpur Sadar; (d) leading an operation, accompanied by Pakistan Army, to burn 25 houses of the Hindu community at Umedpur village (under the jurisdiction of Indurkani Police Station); (e) leading the group who abducted three women from the house of Gouranga Saha of Parerhat Bandar and handed them over to the Pakistan army for raping.
Sultan Ahmed Howlader, the fourth prosecution witness in the trial, testified that, during the liberation war, Sayeedi and his associate Moshleuddin confined Bipod Shaha's daughter Vanu Shaha at Parerhat, Pirojpur district and regularly raped her. Another witness testified that Sayeedi had organised the Razakar militia, a paramilitary force that aided the Pakistan army at Pirojpur.
The trial saw 28 witnesses for the prosecution and 16 for the defence. In addition, the tribunal received 16 witness statements given to the investigator after the prosecution argued that those witnesses were either dead, or that producing them before the tribunal would incur unreasonable delay or expenditure.
Abduction of witness 
On 5 November 2012, Sukhranjan Bali, the prosecution witness who instead testified as a defence witness, was abducted outside the International Crimes Tribunal allegedly by the Bangladesh Police. He was kidnapped after giving evidence for Sayeedi. In May 2013, he was found in an Indian prison in Kolkata. He alleged state abduction and accused officials in Dhaka of telling him that both he and Sayeedi were to die. In what human rights group believed to be a case of forced disappearance, Bali was handed over to India's Border Security Force, but instead of being killed was sentenced to prison and tortured. "The apparent abduction of a witness in a trial at the ICT is a cause for serious concern about the conduct of the prosecution, judges and government," said a spokesperson for HRW.
Skype controversy 
In late 2012 near the end of Sayeedi's trial Skype conversations and e-mails between the head judge of the ICT, Nizamul Huq, and Ahmed Ziauddin, a Brussels-based lawyer were leaked. According to the Economist, the recordings and emails suggested that the Bangladesh Government pressured and attempted to intervene in the International Crimes Tribunal in order to speed proceedings up. The neutrality and independence of Huq was also called into question, as Ziauddin appeared to help him to prepare documents for the tribunal and make detailed recommendations for Huq, and informed Huq about how the prosecutors may develop their case while in contact with the prosecution. Following the revelations, Huq resigned. A petition seeking retrial was filed on behalf of Sayeedi and other defendants at the ICT. On January 3, the defendants' applications for retrials were rejected.
The tribunal found Sayeedi guilty in 8 of the 20 charges, including mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during 1971. On 28 February 2013, the tribunal sentenced him to death by hanging for two charges among the eight committed during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.
As per the verdict, Sayeedi was awarded capital punishment for the offenses as listed in charge Nos. 8 and 10. The court refrained from passing any separate sentence of imprisonment for the offences listed in charges Nos.6,7,11,14,16 and 19 which it said had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. At the same time, the accused was found not guilty to the offenses of crimes against humanity as listed in charges nos. 1,2,3,4,5,9,12,13,15,17,18 and 20 and was acquitted from the said charges.
Sayeedi's lawyer, Abdur Razzaq, accused authorities of preventing a key witness from testifying and making the process biased. Sayeedi said the verdict was not neutral. Jamaat-e-Islami followers were enraged by the decision, claiming the case against Sayeedi was politically motivated. The party quickly called for a nationwide two-day strike to start 3 March 2013.
By afternoon on the day of the protest, violence had erupted across Bangladesh between Jamaat activists and police forces. By the end of March 3, 2013, almost 80 people were dead, including many police officers. An estimated 2000 people were injured countrywide. According the BBC, it marked "The worst day of political violence in Bangladesh in decades".
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