Golam Azam, the ex-Amir and one of the notorious alleged war criminals of Liberation War is trying to secretly flee from Bangladesh.
(Translated by Hillol Dutta from the news item originally published in Daily Kaler Kantha on 21 June.)
Golam Azam, the ex-Amir and one of the notorious alleged war criminals of Liberation War is trying to secretly flee from Bangladesh. All legal procedures have been adopted to avail a British visa for the ex-Amir. As soon as he reaches London, Azam is likely to apply for political asylum, sources suspect. A reliable source observes that the immigration of Golam Azam is being monitored under tough secretiveness. It became known, the whole matter is being monitored by Azam’s son Nabil Azmi, who is currently living in London. Even the policymakers of Jamayat E Islami was kept unaware of this move. The source further discloses, the process of migration was initiated by his family members during the two-year regime of the Caretaker Government when the demand for the trial of the war criminals was gathering momentum. Subsequently, Awami League’s election victory on the key pledge to try the war criminals, prompted action on the part of Azam’s family members to explore the feasibility of a possible political asylum in England for him.
Azam applied for visa before the British High Commission in Bangladesh on 28 April 2008. The process was handled in secrecy with application materials being sent through a courier. Later, Azam dropped in on at the Visa Facilitation Center (VFS) of British High Commission located at Gulshan-1 for his biometric scans (finger prints). Secrecy was strictly maintained during this visit to VFS as well. VFS of British High Commission is run by a private organization. When the application was initially refused by BHC in Dhaka, an appeal was filed by Nabil Azmi before the ‘Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’ in the UK. After Awami League’s victory in the last General Election, Azam re-applied for British visa which too was refused, followed by Nabil Azmi’s appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. This time, in order to ensure a favourable result, a Pakistani individual and a number of pro-Jamayat immigration advisers were involved in the process. Following legal representations, at the beginning of April, the immigration Judge issued instructions to the British High Commission in Dhaka to provide Azam with a UK visa enabling him to meet his family members. A responsible insider source of London disclosed, a copy of the order was sent to the British High Commission in Dhaka, to facilitate the process. According to this anonymous source, all loose ends are going to be tied up for a smooth immigration of Azam as a number of insiders currently active in the present administration are working on the case. The source also confirmed that the passport of Azam, which was expired in July, 2009, had been renewed hastily without any hindrance or intervention from the Bangladesh Government.
Mohammed Golam Kibria, a young immigration lawyer from London, informed this reporter, “After the appeal, Golam Azam will no longer face any difficulty in obtaining his UK visa.” Kibria commented, “He might have availed his visa by now. As far as we know, no one in the Bangladesh High Commission is aware of Nabil Azmi’s appeals in UK Court. No alerts have been issued to the concerned bodies regarding the activities of the suspected war criminals. If Golam Azam arrives in London, it will be an easy matter for his family to keep him in UK. If he applies for political asylum his application will be dealt with importance according to the law of this country. Generally, in this country, if a septuagenarian applies for political asylum, her/his application is accepted on humanitarian grounds.”
When Nabil Azmi was contacted on his cell phone in London from the Kaler Kantha office at 7.44 pm, 20 June, an unknown person introduced himself as uncle of Nabil Azmi and wanted to know about the subject of the report from the reporter. When the reporter expressed his desire to talk to Nabil Azmi, he was told that Nabil was preoccupied. When the person spoken to was asked about his identification, he then introduced himself as Salman Azmi, the younger son of Golam Azam. Being queried about Golam Azam’s immigration, he at first denied to give any information. Later on he demanded that, as British High Commission of Bangladesh refused the visa of Golam Azam totally illegally, their family appealed in London and they succeeded two months ago. He also informed that, due to the result of the appeal, British High Commission called for the passport of Golam Azam which was handed over to them. He, however, had no idea as to whether the visa had finally issued on the passport.
Sushanta Dasgupta, one of the activists engaged in mobilizing public opinion in London for the trial of war criminals and CEO of AmarBlog.com, informs this reporter, “four sons of Golam Azam reside in London. They maintain close relationship with the local Jamayat leaders as well as with the international lobbies. We are worried that if Golam Azam can somehow can leave Bangladesh and reach here, he can never be sent back to Bangladesh to face trial.”
Meanwhile the source from London ensured that, if Golam Azam can reach England after ensuring visa, then his permanent settlement over there will be processed by his another son Amin al Azmi by a formal application. Both general immigration rules related to uniting father with his son and solicitation for political asylum have been scrutinized carefully. They think that, if solicitation for political asylum is lodged, then the other convicted leaders of Jamayat E Islami who may be framed in the charge of war crime may also achieve ‘political soft corner’ from all over the world in future. The source also confirmed that, Amin al Azmi had already met several immigration lawyers by this time. Golam Azam has, on several occasions in the past, attended political programmes in London which were organized Amin al Azmi.
In this context, Major General (Rtd.) Shafiullah Bir Uttam, Senior Vice Chairman of Sector Commanders’ Forum told the Kaler Kantha, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib promulgated Collaborator’s Act upon his return to Bangladesh on 10th January, 1972. Attempts were made to arrest all the prominent (alleged) war criminals under that law, including Golam Azam who evaded arrest by escaping to foreign countries. All the well known war criminals like Golam Azam should be brought to government custody, mere sending of alerts to entry and exit points/ports is not sufficient to prevent escape of these war criminals from the country. A list of those war criminals should also be sent to all the foreign embassies/high commissions, so that no one is afforded a visa.”
On hearing the emigration effort of Golam Azam, the Convener of War Crimes Fact Finding Committee Dr. M A Hasan expressed dissatisfaction. He said, “Our friendly countries can never give visa to these branded war criminals. The UK and the countries of EU have all ratified Geneva Convention and Genocide Convention. They can, in no way, give visa to a war criminal.”
He said, “Golam Azam is one the topmost war criminals. If he can manage his escape route somehow, then the trial of the war criminals will turn into a farce. In 1971, on allowing the exit of Pakistani military war criminals from Bangladesh turned out to be an ultimate fiasco in their trial. If Golam Azam can move outside Bangladesh, then his trial will never be possible.”
He demanded that the government confiscates the passports of all the marked war criminals.