Tuesday, September 28, 2010

War crimes again

Lord Avebury- A Policy of Appeasement?

Published: 23 September 2010 - Written by Chris Blackburn in section: Controversy, Lobbying, News, Policy, Politics
A Policy of Appeasement?

I was recently having a discussion with a friend about the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh. He couldn’t understand why liberals and multiculturalists were being critical about the trial’s developments. This criticism is part of a growing trend for supporters of the tribunal. I wouldn’t like it to become a split. People have become fixated on the lack of support and na├»ve pandering to Islamists by western politicians.

Islamists based in the Europe and the US, who have strong Jamaat affiliations, have been lobbying to try to derail the war crimes trial by trying picking out the trials faults and non-conformity with international standards for trying crimes against humanity. It is just little things, but it will not stop the tribunal. United Nations teams have pointed out recommendations, but Bangladesh’s procedures are generally in line with international standards.

Naivety, not malice, has allowed British politicians to be used by Islamists to pour scorn on the tribunal. This is true. However, I would like to defend, well perhaps that is strong word, I would like to try and clear up a few issues.

Lord Avebury’s name always comes up in these discussions, ‘Why did Avebury meet with Jamaat lobbyists in parliament?,’ and ‘Why is he helping them?’. I would like to defend Lord Avebury. He has been one of the most influential and vocal supporters of democracy and human rights in Bangladesh from within the British parliament.

Avebury has been calling for the trials for decades. He’s helped raise the issue of war crimes way before radical Islamism became a fashionable topic. He has helped to raise Bangladesh’s profile in European and American circles. His objectivity and lack of party affiliation sometimes irritates those who would like to feel they’ve got him in their corner. But, he won’t pick sides. He supports justice and accountability even if it makes people think that he lacks loyalty, but he will never close rank. It’s a liberal flaw. We don’t do tribalism.

Avebury has supported the need for the trials and ending the culture of impunity in Bangladesh. He wants human rights abusers and murderers tried for their crimes. However, he does not support the death penalty. This is a major issue for him and I suspect is the main driving force behind his reluctance to be triumphant about finally succeeding in getting justice for the horrific crimes which were committed during 1971. Lord Avebury is a Buddhist, he takes his religious duties seriously. Pacifism is a central tenet of his beliefs. I would also suspect that as a Liberal he is also reluctant to put his support behind any trial were the guilty are likely to punished with the electric chair, a firing squad or the hangman’s noose.

I’ve also had first hand experience of Lord Avebury’s lack of due diligence. However, he’s one of the most trustworthy and objective people I know, but he does not have the nose for sniffing out when he’s being used. He sees good in everyone- friend to all, malice to none. It’s his major character flaw or perhaps it’s his strength. However, if we are to shun Lord Avebury for making a mistake of raising legitimate concerns we are going to ostracise one of the most prominent supporters of justice for 1971. His long commitment to democracy, human rights and justice in Bangladesh is without question. The death penalty has become a thorny issue for international supporters, but with Avebury we are with a friend. He’s critical, he’s a liberal- it’s part of his makeup.

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