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Bangladesh's largest Islamist party calls hartal in protest against war crime trials

English.news.cn   2013-01-30 17:42:44            

by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, demanding the release of its leaders who face charges of war crimes, Wednesday called a nationwide dawn-to-dusk hartal for Thursday.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party said in a press release that it called the hartal for unconditional release of its detained top leaders including ex-Chief Ghulam Azam.

Jamaat also demanded immediately stopping of "the mockery in the name of so called trial", and cancellation of two war crime tribunals.

Apart from Azam, the party's spiritual leader, about a dozen other party leaders, including its chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, and ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are now facing war crimes charges before two tribunals.

Authorities denied the claims of Jamaat, saying the party is creating anarchic situation in the name of political programs aimed at foiling ongoing war crimes trial. Leaders of the ruling party have said verdict against the war criminals would begin this month.

More than four decades after Bangladesh's independence, Abul Kalam Azad, an expelled Jamaat leader, was sentenced to death by a tribunal in Dhaka on Jan. 21 for war crimes including murder, abduction and looting.

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 pronounced its maiden verdict on crimes against humanity case.

The Tribunal-1 Monday said it was now in a position to deliver any time judgment in the war crimes case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee, who Tuesday ignoring repeated objection from the Tribunal read out loud a 10-page speech, cursing the prosecution, the witnesses against him and the investigation officers and claiming that the charges brought against him were "fabricated".

After returning to power in January 2009, Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh's independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the tribunals in March 2010 almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan, allegedly to castigate those committed crimes against humanity during the nine-month war.

Jamaat has been staging demonstration since the Hasina government took the initiative to try those allegedly involved in war crimes during the South Asian country's nine-month liberation war.

The party seems more busy nowadays with intensified political movement as tribunals hinted at delivering more judgments soon in the war crimes cases against several of its leaders.

Jamaat reportedly declared the hartal two days after it and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir fought pitched battles with riot police and members of the ruling part in Dhaka and elsewhere to mount pressure on the government to stop the war crimes trials.

The violence left at least 70 people, including 50 cops, injured and some 200 vehicles smashed, according to leading English newspaper The Daily Star.

The Jamaat spokesman was not available for comment.

Apart from Jamaat, BNP has also dismissed the court as a government "show trial" and said it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the United Nations.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. Hasina's government claimed about 3 million people were killed in the war though independent researchers put the figure between 300, 000 and 500,000.

Editor: Deng Shasha
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