South Asia News
Bangladesh parliament approves prosecuting 1971 war criminals
Jan 29, 2009, 15:58 GMT
Dhaka - The Bangladesh parliament Thursday approved a resolution seeking speedy prosecution of the country's 1971 war criminals amid a boycott by the mainstream opposition lawmakers.
'The resolution seeking trial of the war criminals has been approved unanimously,' pronounced the parliament speaker, Abdul Hamid after the house voted Yes to the proposal moved by a ruling Awami League lawmaker, Mahmud us Samad Chowdhury
Leader of the House Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and a number of senior ruling party lawmakers supported and spoke in favour of the proposal saying that the trial of the war criminals had become a national demand now.
'The trial of the war criminals will take place on this soil. I've ordered the ministries and persons concerned to collect evidences,' Hasina told the House amid loud thumping of desks by her deputies.
Lawmakers of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance remained absent from the House for the second consecutive day Thursday over a seating arrangement dispute in parliament.
Terming it a national demand nowadays, Hasina said that she contacted a panel of international experts on war crime tribunals to know the others dealt with the issue of war criminals.
'We are collecting evidence (on) how the other countries prosecuted war criminals,' said Hasina, whose Awami League party had included the issue of war criminals' prosecution in its agenda for last December's election in which the party won a landslide victory.
During Bangladesh's war of independence against Pakistani occupation forces in 1971, according to historians, three million unarmed people were killed, 200,000 women were violated and tens of thousands of homes were torched by Pakistani forces and their local collaborators.
An early initiative to prosecute war crimes was called off after the 1975 political changeover with the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh's independence.
Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum, a platform of 1971 war veterans, revealed last year that 11,000 indicted war criminals were released from jail a few months after Mujib's assassination in 1975.
Earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister sought United Nations assistance to try the war criminals, many of whom were rehabilitated in Bangladesh's politics taking the advantage of a state of impunity over the last three decades.