The Foreign Office responds

24 November 2010

I have just received some answers from the Foreign Office about the Bangladesh war crimes tribunal. I asked if William Hague had sent a letter to his counterpart in Bangladesh saying that
there were no war criminals from the 1971 independence war in Britain.

A spokesman said that while they did not comment on leaked documents, the following points could be made with reference to the war crimes trials currently taking place in Bangladesh:

1) The UK wants to see all war criminals brought to justice. It is essential that all war crimes’ tribunals are held to internationally accepted standards and that anyone
accused of a war crime is given a fair trial, including the right to conduct a proper defence and be treated in accordance with appropriate human rights’ standards.  

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2) The UK operates a policy of no safe haven for individuals suspected of involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.  Where possible, we would use
existing powers to prevent such individuals travelling to or settling in the UK.  

3) We are not aware of any alleged war criminals living in UK. If new evidence is brought to our attention, both the UK courts and the Home Secretary will examine each case on its

4) We understand the desire of the government to hold to account those who may be guilty of war crimes during the war of independence. We have not had any approaches for assistance
from the Bangladeshi government, nor can we comment on individual cases or possible visa restrictions.

5) The Foreign Secretary has discussed war crimes with his counterpart in Bangladesh and our support for the principle of bringing war criminals to justice. However, the UK opposes
the death penalty in all circumstances and we would work actively against any death sentence imposed by a tribunal.

The key answer here is number three. The Foreign Office is not aware of any alleged war criminal from Bangladesh living in the UK. I wonder if anyone out there can help out here.

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Show comments
  • BD Beatles

    This is purely a politically motivated trial. The ruling Awami Leage in BD is a fascist party by heart – during and right after independece 1971 they killed mercilessly (ethnic cleansing) of the Biharis. In fact the picture above is also then BAL leader Kader Siddqui killing bihari men in broad daylight in the stadium. But unfortunately this killers are not in trial but the political leaders are – whose only fault was that they wanted the country to remain united. All the independent study shows that total number of killing at that time was around 60,000 – two third of that was ethnically biharis so around 20,000 people died because of civil war situation and later during war situation (refer to british medical journal for the numbers authenticity – I however don’t know why medical journal would do study of the number of death – but that is not relevant) for our discussion. If there is any trial then it sould be Awami Leagues gun totting partymen should be brought to justice beside 195 Pakistani Army personnel. Why a political parties leaders will be in jail just because they are oppose to the ruling party for a crime which they never committed. International community should rise up and try the real killers during BD independence (which is also unnecessary since it’s been 40 years and Bangladesh-India-Pakistan setted this issue in 1974 through a tri-patriate aggreement).

  • Sayma Sultana

    Who knows who is working for whom???
    The ruling party Awami League in Bangladesh is trying to cleanse its political opponents to secure its future route to power. So called International War Crime Tribunal has been formulated with the ruling party loyalists to destroy one of the opposition party. There is not a single international war crime expert or judge in the tribunal. Other main opposition party leaders are under thousands of corruption charges when ruling party leaders are alleged of similar corruption charges. India is helping the cleansing operation against anti-Indian fractions to secure its interest in Bangladesh.
    Many of the international organisations and individuals have been misguided by Indian agents.

  • Ben Rafick

    Arnab has some points in his post. Thanks for those Arnab!

    There is another vital fact to take into consideration. How trustworthy will the trial be if there would be a trial by this Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) government? This question has been raised from many corners concerned, from within as well as abroad the nation. The fact is that the current BAL government has already plotted the trial with setting in its favoured judges, by promoting them disrespecting the rules, firstly. Secondly, the crimes tribunal committee set by the current BAL government consists of lawyers who were either former activists and leaders of the student wing of the BAL, namely Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL), or current leaders and Members of the Parliament (MPs) of BAL! How can the nation expect a fair and free trial with this ‘kangaroo court’? Thirdly, the current BAL government do not have a good track record of sincere trials, as the nation has witnessed it with regards to the trial of Bangabandhu’s murderers. Fourth, the International Bar Association has already gone through the proposed War Crimes Tribunal Act, and found one and a half a dozen of legal faults in it. The IBA has already suggested the government for correction. If the BAL government is sincere enough, there should be some changes, otherwise the same old story will be played again!

    We hope the British lawyers to go through the related documents, not letting aside the facts of the mass murder committed by the BAL activists on the Biharis during the 1971 liberation war until 1975 in Bangladesh, and suggest a better report for the trial of the real war criminals in Bangladesh.


  • Peter From Maidstone

    If the UK is not a safe haven for war criminals why is it a safe haven for terrorists? Indeed why is it the safe haven of choice for terrorists? Why hide in the rugged mountains of Pakistan when the English taxpayer will provide for all of your needs while you plan ways to kill them?

  • Ronnie

    In support of Rhoda’s point it would seem that in order to extradite someone as a war criminal we must first firmly establish that he’she is a war criminal. Therefore we must effectively fund and process a trial before a further tiral, in Dhaka in this case, can go ahead.

    This is an interesting crusade Martin but I’m not quite sure why you have embarked upon it.

    A question. How often are war criminals tried from the winning side, except in the case of the UK and the USA?

  • Arnab

    The picture which was posted with this articles shows that Kader Siddique, a war veteran of ruling Awami League, killing two so called collaborator(Rajakar) with his bayonet in Paltan Maidan (Paltan Ground). Unfortunately while talking about war crimes committed during the liberation war of Bangladesh this picture is widely used to depict it as a crime committed by the group who opposed the separation of the country from Pakistan while the opposite is true. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, The founder of Bangladesh identified 195 War Criminal but later released all of them under general amnesty which was a result of a treaty signed by India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Some 30 thousands local collaborators was arrested at that time under collaboration ACT, but failed to charge a single one as no evidence was found against them. Seeing no other way, the then government released all of the prisoners and asked them to work for the reconstruction of the new country.
    After 40 years the current government has brought the issue of war crime trial forward again mainly to suppress the political opponents.
    If no evidence was found against any of the accused just immediate after the independence how is it possible that they will find evidence now after 40 years?
    There are no doubt that crime was committed during the 9 months period of war of Independence. Such crime was committed by both side of the factions. Specially at least 1 million non-Bengali speaking people was killed by Awamileage and its ally. What about the justice for them.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Israel will never achieve true legitimacy as long as it remins the puppet state of its religious extremists. The defining moment is fast approaching. For it to become a modern democracy, informed by it’s religion, not a extrmist theocracy governed by it.

  • AY

    Erica Blair
    November 26th, 2010 4:38pm

    This is something new!
    So where do you suppose to send British Jews – to Gaza, to Hezbolla, or directly to Iran?

    You should also suggest building camps, to put “Israeli war criminals” there.. or other facilities, you know.

    brilliant thinking and sharp activism, bravo Mahmood, write more of that burning stuff.

  • Erica Blair

    Why does Martin want us to arrest war criminals from Bangladesh, but not from Israel?

  • Rhoda Klapp

    The key answer is answer 5. Some smart lawyer is going to raise the spectre of a dodgy trial, forty-year-old evidence and the death penalty at the end of it. No extradition, no trial, much expense.

    And yes, I have practical objections to trying an old man for what a young man did. I think it does no good, justice notwithstanding. Are we sure this is not an exercise to make old lefties feel good about themselves?

  • normanc

    For the love of God, no one bring any war criminals / terrorists to the governments attention. We’ll end up having to pay them a million quid for some perceived wrong.

  • Charles

    No.4 “we have not had any approaches for assistance from the Bangladeshi government” is also pretty conclusive

  • Yow Min Lye

    There’s no shortage of Bangladeshis in Britain amongst whom they can hide.

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