Move to try war criminals countered by Bangladesh party

April 16th, 2009 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 16 (IANS) Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, has launched a campaign to counter the Sheikh Hasina government’s move to try “war criminals”.
Those who collaborated with the erstwhile East Pakistan regime in 1971 are referred to as “war criminals”.

Terming the government move “anti-Islamic”, the Jamaat distributed booklets and leaflets across the country claiming its party’s top leaders were “innocent of any war crimes”, The Daily Star said Thursday.

The Sheikh Hasina government has responded to the distribution of the booklets by arresting the Jamaat workers, at least one of whom is a government servant who is barred from engaging in political activity.

Jamaat’s counter move has come even as the government prepares to formalise the procedures and appoint an agency to hold the trial of those accused of being members of Islamist militia accused of rape, loot and killing unarmed civilians, and targeting religious minorities.

Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in December 1971.

Hasina is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia April 22. Media reports have said the official visit, along with her performing the Umrah, is significant as the Saudi royalty and the government exercise considerable influence on the Jamaat and other Islamist parties.

The Jamaat booklet reads, “Although the head of the post-independence Bangladesh government, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had settled the issue of war crimes with cancellation of the Collaborators Act, the issue has been raised after 38 years of the country’s independence for political gains.”

None of the Jamaat leaders had been involved in any killings, rape, looting, arson or any other crimes during the liberation war. Those who want to banish Islam-oriented politics from the country have raised the issue to misguide people, it said.

“They have failed to bring allegations of corruption, terrorism and militancy against Jamaat. Their target is not only Jamaat but also all Islamic parties, people and their institutions,” the booklet adds.

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