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Public Statements

Justice for Mir Quasem Ali

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WILSON of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, last week, as a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, I met Mir Ahmad BinQuasem of Bangladesh. Mir Ahmad informed me that his father, Mir Quasem Ali, was arrested on June 17, 2012, by the Bangladesh International, War, Crimes Tribunal for alleged crimes committed during the 1971 War of Liberation against then-West Pakistan, and for campaigning ``against the process of this [War Crimes] Tribunal in foreign countries.'' Mir Quasem Ali is the owner of Bangladesh's largest opposition-run media outlet, which has been openly critical of the Tribunal and of the ruling government at-large. As such, I am concerned that his arrest and ongoing detention may represent a thinly-veiled attempt by the ruling government of Bangladesh to silence its opponents and critics.

In addition to my concerns about this arrest, it has come to my attention that the Tribunal itself is inherently flawed and lacks compliance with international standards. It appears that the Tribunal is international in name only, as it lacks international oversight or involvement, experienced foreign attorneys have been banned from participating, and the Tribunal violates at least two of Bangladesh's international treaty obligations. Tribunal defendants are not only denied access to international standards of justice, but several of the rights granted by domestic law. These include the right to an independent appeal, which is explicitly denied to defendants of the Tribunal.

As a member of the Middle East and South Asia subcommittee, I am very concerned about the implications that Mir Quasem Ali's arrest has for the state of democracy within Bangladesh. I will continue to closely monitor this situation and I hope that Bangladesh will take assertive measures to ensure that its upcoming elections are conducted in a openly democratic matter. I am hopeful for a bright future for the people of Bangladesh with open and fair justice for all of its citizens.

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