Bangladesh Executes Five For Killing Independence Leader

I was going to write asking for readers of this blog to write to the Bangladeshi authorities and urge them not to execute the five convicted killers (Syed Farooq-ur Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Mohiuddin Ahmed, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Bazlul Huda) of Bangladesh’s first president Sheikh Mujibar Rahman.  But, I was too late– the execution happened today, US East Coast time.

The men were part of a conspiracy in 1975 aimed at toppling Sheikh Mujibhar Rahman (known as Mujib or Bangabandhu).  He took power in 1971 after a bloody liberation war that left upwards of 3 million people dead.  Mujib’s opponents believed that he was becoming increasingly autocratic and a coup overthrew his government.  He and his family, unaware of the coup plotter’s intentions, were captured by the coup plotters.  Then Mujib’s entire family (his wife and children) except for one daughter were killed (this article from today’s Daily Star in Dhaka describes the scene those many years ago).  That daughter, Sheikh Hasina, was in England studying and returned to Bangladesh where she is now the Prime Minister.

Amnesty International is opposed to the death penalty in all cases.  The death penalty is in violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I can only imagine the heart break that Prime Minister Hasina feels about the loss of her family in such a tragic circumstances.  In fact, it is hard to feel any sympathy for the cold blooded murderers of her family.  But, Bangladesh’s government chose revenge over justice, and, it was the wrong choice.

Modern Warfare 2

The New York Times reported this morning that in the past two years the US military has killed more than 400 militants in 80 drone strikes for the loss of only 20 civilian casualties.

Pentagon sources credit the increased sophistication of modern weapons systems and intelligence collection platforms for this record of success. This is a bold claim and one that Amnesty International has been trying to investigate on the ground in a very hostile operational environment.

At present, reliable facts are hard to come by. However, we can say with the confidence derived from hard-earned experience that these numbers are unlikely to stand up to scrutiny. A similar conflict in which airborne platforms have been used by a sophisticated modern military to target insurgent and other armed groups is the second Intifada which engulfed the Gaza Strip in September 2000.

Between September 2000 and September 2002 Israel’s intelligence-led policy of targeted killing claimed the lives of approximately eighty Palestinian militants and fifty innocent bystanders.

In one well-documented incident in July 2002 the Israelis dropped a laser-guided bomb on a house occupied by Hamas official Salah Shahada. Shahada was killed along with thirteen others, ten of whom were children.