Motiur Rahman Nizami

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Motiur Rahman Nizami
Leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami
Incumbent
Assumed office
2000
Preceded by Ghulam Azam
Minister of Agriculture
In office
10 October 2001 – 22 May 2003
Minister of Industries
In office
22 May 2003 – 28 October 2006
Member of Parliament
for Pabna-1
In office
1 October 2001 – 28 October 2006
Preceded by Professor Abu Sayed
Succeeded by Md. Shamsul Haque
Majority 135,982 (57.68%)
In office
27 February 1991 – 16 February 1996
Succeeded by Professor Abu Sayed
Majority 55,707 (36.85%)
Personal details
Born Pabna, Bangladesh
Political party Jamaat-e-Islami
Spouse(s) Shamsunnahar Nizami
Alma mater Dhaka University
Profession Politician
Religion Islam

Motiur Rahman Nizami (Bengali: মতিউর রহমান নিজামী), is the current chief (Ameer) of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, which is the largest Islamic political party in Bangladesh. He is being held as a suspect while standing trial for war crimes in 1971 at the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh. He was the supreme commander of the militia group Al-Badr during the Bangladesh Liberation War.[1]

While Human Rights Watch,[2] various political entities[3][4] and international organization[5] had originally welcomed the trials, in November 2011 Human Rights Watch criticized the government for aspects of their progress, lack of transparency, and reported harassment of defense lawyers and witnesses representing the accused.[6][7][8]

Political career[edit]

Nizami rose in the ranks of the East Pakistan branch of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan in the 1960s, having led the student organization, Islamic Chhatro Shango (ICS) (now Islami Chhatro Shibir). After the independence of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president, banned Jamaat from political participation as it had opposed the liberation, and many of its members collaborated with the Pakistan Army during the conflict. Nizami and some other top leaders left the country.

Following the assassination by military officers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975, Ziaur Rahman became president in a coup in 1977. He permitted top Jamaat leaders, such as Ghulam Azam and Nizami, to return to Bangladesh in 1978; they revived the Jamaat party, which became the largest Islamist party in the country. Nizami emerged as a key leader of the Jamaat, organising the Islami Chhatra Shibir (Jammat Students Organisation), which serves as the youth wing of the Jamaat.

In 1991, he was elected as a Member of Parliament, representing Jamaat-e-Islami for the constituency of Pabna-1; he was Jamaat's Parliamentary Party leader until 1994.[9] During the 1996 elections, he lost to the candidates of both the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), an ally of Jamaat, and the Awami League in his constituency. Professor Abu Sayed of the Awami League gained his seat.

Leader of Jamaat-e-Islami[edit]

Nizami took over as the Ameer of Jamaat from Ghulam Azam in 2001.[10] In the same year, representing his party as part of a four-party alliance including BNP, Nizami won a seat in Parliament in Pabna-1, receiving 57.68% of the votes.[11] From 2001-2003, he served as the Minister of Agriculture, followed by three years as the Industrial Minister (2003 to 2006).

Nizami was defeated in the December 2008 general election as a candidate of the Four-Party Alliance, losing his seat for Pabna-1 to Md. Shamsul Haque of the Awami League. Nizami received 45.6% of the votes. The Awami League took two-thirds of the seats in Parliament.

Controversies[edit]

Allegations of corruption[edit]

In May 2008, the Anti-corruption Commission of Bangladesh indicted Nizami in the GATCO Corruption case, in which he along with several other politicians are alleged to have illegally granted a container-depot contract to the local firm GATCO.[12] A warrant was issued to arrest Nizami along with 12 others on May 15, 2008.

Nizami was charged with conspiring with 12 other politicians to award the contract to GATCO although the company did not meet the conditions of the tender. The prosecution alleged that the deal with GATCO caused a total loss of more than 100 million Bangladeshi Taka to the Government.[13] Nizami denied the charges and said they were politically motivated.[14] He was released after two months on bail.

Religious charges[edit]

In a public speech on March 17, 2010, the Dhaka Jamaat chief, Rafiqul Islam, compared Nizami's life to that of the Prophet Muhammad, persisting in the face of persecution. On March 21, the Bangladesh Tariqat Federation sued Rafiqul, Nizami and other Jamaat members "for hurting Islamic sentiments of the masses by comparing Nizami with the Prophet",.[15]

Nizami, along with three other senior Jamaat leaders, was arrested on charges on March 29, 2010.[16] He secured bail the next day and appealed for dismissal of the case on February 14, 2011. The High Court adjourned the case for four months in March 2011.[16]

Smuggling charges[edit]

On May 4, 2011, Nizami was arrested on allegations of smuggling arms to Assamese insurgents in India.[17] His bail petition on 7 September 2011 was denied.[18]

On January 30, 2014, Nizami and 13 co-conspirators were sentenced to death by hanging after being found guilty of smuggling arms.[19]

International Crimes Tribunal[edit]

In 2009, the Awami League-led Bangladesh government established a tribunal in Bangladesh to investigate those suspected of committing atrocities during Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Nizami and eight other leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami were charged with war crimes by the prosecution, as were two leaders of the Bangladesh National Party. Opposition parties and human rights groups alleged political interference in the trial, given that all the accused were leading opposition politicians.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karlekar, Hiranmay (13 December 2005). Bangladesh: The Next Afghanistan?. Sage. p. 152. ISBN 978-0761934011. 
  2. ^ Adams, Brad (18 May 2011). "Letter to the Bangladesh Prime Minister regarding the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act". Human Rights Watch. 
  3. ^ Haq, M. Zahurul (5 August 2011). M.N. Schmitt, Louise Arimatsu, T. McCormack, ed. Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law - 2010 (1st ed.). Springer. p. 463. ISBN 978-9067048101. 
  4. ^ Ullah, Ansar Ahmed (3 February 2012). "Vote of trust for war trial". The Daily Star. 
  5. ^ http://archive.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=90186
  6. ^ Adams, Brad (2 November 2011). "Bangladesh: Stop Harassment of Defense at War Tribunal". Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
  7. ^ Karim, Bianca; Tirza Theunissen (29 September 2011). Dinah Shelton, ed. International Law and Domestic Legal Systems: Incorporation, Transformation, and persuasion. Oxford University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0199694907. 
  8. ^ Ghafour, Abdul (31 October 2012). "International community urged to stop ‘summary executions’ in Bangladesh". Arab News. 
  9. ^ Biography, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.
  10. ^ "Prof. Ghulam Azam Retires", Islamic Voice, December 2006.
  11. ^ "Online Election Results for Pabna-1", BD Needs.
  12. ^ Bangladesh orders arrest of Islamist party chief, Reuters, May 15, 2008.
  13. ^ "12 'fugitives' face arrest order", The Daily Independent, Bangladesh, 16 May 2008
  14. ^ "Bangladeshi religious leader held", BBC News, May 19, 2008.
  15. ^ [1], The Daily Star
  16. ^ a b RELIGIOUS SENTIMENT: "Proceeding against Nizami, Mojaheed put off", BDNews 24
  17. ^ "Court asks for Nizami’s arrest", The Independent (Bangladesh), 5 May 2011
  18. ^ "Nizami denied bail". bdnews24.com. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  19. ^ http://tribune.com.pk/story/665334/bangladesh-court-sentences-ji-chief-to-death/
  20. ^ "Bangladesh War-Crime Tribunal Bogs Down". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ghulam Azam
Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh
2001–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent