Mir Quasem Ali (31 December 1952 – 3 September 2016) was a Bangladeshi businessman, philanthropist and politician. He was a former director of Islami Bank, and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns Diganta TV. He founded the Ibn Sina Trust and was a key figure in the establishment of the NGO Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. He was considered to be the wealthiest member of the Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami. He was sentenced to death on 2 November 2014 for crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 by International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh. The charges were denied by his relatives, stating they were politically motivated. Rights groups also raised concerns about these cases, with Amnesty International criticizing the use of the death penalty and saying Mir Quasem Ali’s trial had been unfair. He was hanged at Gazipur on 3 September 2016 after his final appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
Mir Quasem Ali is born to Mir Tayeb Ali and Rabeya Begum. He was born in Munsidangi Sutalori in Manikganj on 31 December 1952. He joined the Islami Chhatra Sangha in 1967 while studying in Chittagong Collegiate School.
Mir Quasem Ali was a former director of Islami Bank, and chairman of the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns Diganta TV. He founded the Ibn Sina Trust and was a key figure in the establishment of the NGO Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. He was the chairman of Keari Ltd, Association of Multipurpose Welfare Agencies of Bangladesh and Agro Industrial Trust, director of marketing of Ibn Sina Pharmaceutical Industries, member secretary of Fouad Al-Khateeb Charity Foundation. He was part of management in Industrialists and Businessmen Welfare Foundation, Allama Iqbal Sangsad, Islamic University of Chittagong, Darul Ihsan University, Centre for Strategy and Peace Studies.
Mir Quasem was a first-year student of Chittagong College in 1971, where he was pursuing a bachelor's degree in physics. He was the president of Chittagong Chhatra Sangha’s unit. He was elected a to the Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha's provincial working council on 6 November. He was also general secretary of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha. Al-Badr was a paramilitary force composed of Jamaat e Islami's then student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha to support Pakistan army and crackdown on pro liberation groups. Al-Badr branch of Chittagong seized Mohamaya Bhaban building at Andrrkilla. The building was owned by a local Hindu family. They renamed it "Dalim Hotel" and used it as an interrogation and detention centre. Pro- Bangladeshi activists Jahangir Alam Chowdhury and Syed Md Emran testified at Quasem's trial that the prison was used to torture suspected members of Mukti Bahini. Mukti Bahini members "Jasim", Tuntu Sen and Ranjit Das were killed at this place. Witnesses testified at the trial that guards at hotel Dalim would announce the arrival of Quasem with "Mr Quasem has come. Mr Commander has come."
After independence Quasem fled to Saudi Arabia. He returned to Bangladesh and became the founding president of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the Jamaat's student front, on 6 February 1977. The organisation is a successor to the Islami Chhatra Sangha.
Out of the 14 charges, Quasem was convicted in 10 charges in the trial at International Crimes Tribunal and he was awarded death sentence for two of the charges including murder and kidnapping. After the announcement of the verdict of the trial the lawyers from the defense said that justice had not been done on Quasem and he did not get proper judgment. Gonojagoron Moncho supported the verdict and expressed satisfaction. The defence pledged an appeal to Bangladesh High court. Quasem's political Party Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide three days strike as a protest over the verdict. He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The supreme court rejected the review petition on 30 August 2016, and Ali refused to seek clemency.
Some critics of the current Bangladeshi Government said that Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of the country used the trials to target her political enemies.
In 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that Mir Quasem Ali's trial was flawed. It demanded a moratorium on the death penalty, after details emerged that the prosecution had for producing insufficient evidence in court. Brad Adams of HRW stated: “Allowing the death sentence in a case with such fundamental doubts about the evidence is unthinkable.”
Amnesty International raised serious concerns about the court proceedings. These include denying defence lawyers adequate time to prepare their cases, and arbitrarily limiting the number of witnesses they could call on. It urged the Bangladeshi government to annul the death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali and grant him a retrial, noting how the proceedings had reportedly been marred” by irregularities. Amnesty spokeswoman Champa Patel said:
The people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence. The continued use of the death penalty will not achieve this. It only serves to inflame domestic tensions and further divide a society riven by violence.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also alleged that Mir Quasem Ali's son, Ahmed Bin Quasem, was arrested on 9 August 2016 and has been forcibly disappeared. Amnesty says multiple credible sources place him at Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) headquarters in Dhaka on 12 August, but authorities have denied having him in custody.
Mir Quasem Ali was hanged at Kashimpur prison in Gazipur on 3 September 2016.
There were reports of street celebrations held in Dhaka and Chittagong after the news of Ali’s execution was broadcast live on television.