This is one of the poorest example of journalism I have ever seen on ICT. Behold! This is by a professor of journalism of California State University, Los Angeles. Some quick info about the report:
Title: Bangladesh ICTs: Monstrous injustice
Authors: Mohammad Auwal
Date of publication: March 07, 2013
The first paragraph introduces to the fact that the ICT has been handing out verdicts and Sayeedi is the most eminent preacher of the holy Quran in the country. Although I am not sure how to verify the second fact but let’s go by that. The second paragraph mentions that no charge has been filed against Sayeedi in last forty years. What point is he trying to make here? Can’t we punish a crime later if it is not punished immediately? Did the author explain how a 20 years of military rule within a decade of liberation can be a favorable time for justice? Did the professor mention that although it is thriving democracy is only about 20 years old there?
The fourth paragraph says the law enforcement agencies have been killing the activists of Jamaat – e – Islami and it’s student wing. Extra judicial killing can never be supported no matter who is killed. Being an avid follower of Bangladeshi politics I am aware of such events. But when a professor of journalism makes such general comment it impacts the quality of the writing and clouds the view of the reader. Why I am saying so? I invite the readers to read this I have written previously. Does this SG op-ed successfully hide the fact that there were cases where the Jamaat activists attacked the police while they were sitting inside their camp of petrol vans? Dear reader, I am referring to the two most circulated Bangla and English national dailies one with tenfold circulation of that of Saudi Gazette.
Let’s take a look at the first sentence of the fifth paragraph. I will not be surprised if the government uses its media and press to support what it is doing. I am not a big fan of Bangladesh Awami League of the present government! But wait a sec! Are they the most popular form of reflecting public opinion in my country? No! How could I say so? From TRP rating and circulations! It’s arithmetic. Has the author ever followed the most circulated national daily or the most viewed private cable network? They are not owned by the government. Reflecting public opinions is their bread and butter. How could an academician ignore the non-negligible part of the media which matters?
Enough about quality of the writing. Let’s talk about sheer lies. I invite you to read the second sentence of the same paragraph. Seriously! The Shahbag movement is orchestrated by the government? What about these reports of solidarity from 179 universities throughout the world? Are all these choreographed by the government? If so, I would suggest to replicate such an influential and motivator government in every country of the world!
The sixth paragraph contains twisted information about the so called Skypegate. The author truly said that justice Nizamul Haque Nasim was exposed collaborating with ruling party officials. What he ignored here is that how justice Nasim handled that exposure. I checked with the leaked conversation but failed to find where he agreed with the government about what will be in the verdict. To my understanding the discussion was more of prioritizing the cases from a logistics perspective. There might be a question whether a judge can have this kind of exposure but was it raised by the author? No! He hinted that the capital punishment might be handed by the ruling party in disguise of the justice. Excuse me! Which part of the conversation says so?
The later part of the same paragraph again presents another sheer lie. As I understand from the conversation that the Belgium based lobbyist (the author of our interest failed to mention that the lobbyist also happens to be an international criminal lawyer and academician) was helping about the technical format of the verdict and not about THE VERDICT. Dear reader, I encourage you to ask the question whether a justice can have such kind of informal professional relationship. What I should not encourage is paraphrasing a real fact and hint to what not happened.
The next paragraph says the ‘loyal’ protesters of already knew about the verdict ahead of time. The author used the term ‘must have known’. So, it is a strong conviction which should have come from a rational thought process. I invite you to take a look at this demonstration by the students of MIT, Harvard and Northwestern universities. It took place on February 9, 2013, almost twenty days before the verdict was handed. If Bangla is not your first language let me translate the biggest banner for you. It says – ‘These criminals will never change. We want them hanged’. I would like to ask the author and you, my readers, whether these people also contributed along with the government and the Belgium based ‘lobbyist’ in writing the verdict. What about the students from 178 other international universities? All of them talked about hanging the accused. Did they all take part in the conspiracy? Let me tell you why the conspiracy theory about first men on the moon doesn’t count. It is because making all of you believe that men went to the moon is much more expensive than just sending men to the moon. Same case here! When 500000 people gather in one afternoon just saying hang them but not lynching the war criminals from the prison which is not very far it is about justice. You can confuse a person who doesn’t speak Bangla by exactly quoting from the slogans or banners but confusions never sustain.
This article is a disgrace to both academic integrity and quality journalism. How could the author forget to mention that Barrister T H Khan who was quoted in the tenth paragraph is also the vice chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party who is a political ally of Jamaat – e – Islami. Does mentioning only his professional experience and not mentioning his political affiliation give you the whole picture?
The eleventh paragraph is the funniest misinterpretation of the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 I have ever read. Did the author take some time to go through the actual law? ‘International’ is used here for crimes not for the tribunal. International crimes are the crimes which any country can take into concern and prosecute. The crimes should be covered under international law. Let me quote from an article by Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Switzerland.
The current system of international criminal law works through international ad hoc tribunals, internationalised or mixed tribunals, the International Criminal Court as well as national courts (military tribunals and ordinary courts).
So, the ICT is a national court which is well recognized in the definition. The Saudi Gazette failed to identify that the author, who is a professor of journalism, didn’t do his homework.
The next paragraph quotes a senior lawyer who once was the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government. Once again the author failed to recognize that the person is also an adviser to the chairperson of BNP which is a political ally of Jamaat – e – Islami. Two missing real affiliations and several false affiliations in the same article? The author must be having a bad day.
Then there comes a paragraph of theory stuffs out of which I was not able to make anything. Is it trying to answer the question whether there should be any tribunal at all? No clue!
In the fourteenth paragraph, the author claimed that one of the judges had the background of ani-Jamaat-e-Islami political activism. What does it really mean? In the last national election Jamaat-e-Islami got only about 4% of the popular votes from a Muslim majority country like Bangladesh. Can we claim from that fact that 96% of the Muslim majority voters were anti-Jamaat-e-Islami political activist? Cannot a citizen of Bangladesh have the right to reject what Jamaat-e-Islami is preaching or doing?
Let me quote the next paragraph exactly.
Even after the recent Skype scandal, the ICTs are strangely doing business as usual relying not on ethics but on the logic of power.
A single line paragraph with no reference or explanation. A newspaper with 50K circulation deserves better.
Dear author as I said this is one of the poorest pieces of journalism I have ever seen I can go on and on. Let me stop here and give you a break.
It is not always possible for a writer to estimate the impact of the op-ed s/he is writing. So, trying to remain as honest as possible might be the best practice just like we always try to write a computer program without fooling ourselves. I thank Professor Mohammad Auwal for taking interest in Bangladesh.
As I have said this is a live commentary on the press covering the ICT of Bangladesh, I am going to send my issues to the authors of this article. I will keep you posted in the comment section whether they agreed with me or not.