Dhaka Archbishop on opposition to death penalty and fears about political violence
(Vatican Radio) In Bangladesh, a leading member of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islamic party has been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity by the nation’s war crimes tribunal. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was charged with torture and mass murder during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Bangladesh has been rocked by violent street protests in recent months related to the complex legacy of the country’s independence war and this verdict has aroused fears of fresh violence.
The Catholic Archbishop of Dhaka Patrick D’ Rozario and other Christian leaders issued a joint statement earlier this week appealing for peace, religious tolerance and greater respect for the welfare of the common people. Susy Hodges interviewed Archbishop D’Rozario and began by asking for his reaction to the handing down of the death penalty.
Listen to the extended interview with Archbishop D'Rozario:
The Archbishop says the Catholic Church is always "against the death penalty ... " and the destroying of a life" and therefore its preference would have been for the court to choose the option of life imprisonment for the convicted man.
Asked about the recent violent street protests by hardline Islamic supporters and his feelings about this violence, Archbishop D'Rozario says they are "very shocked ... and really troubled by what is going on" as these violent protests and counter-protests do not represent "the real picture of Bangladesh." He notes that people in Bangladesh have largely "been living in harmony and peace for a long long time" and in his view the two main reasons for this upsurge of violence are the emotions stirred up by the war crimes tribunal and the upcoming elections. Archbishop D'Rozario expresses his regret that "political parties in the nation try to use religion" (for their own ends). "They are not really concerned about the welfare of the common people", he says.