US welcomes Bangladesh proposal to prosecute war criminals

January 31st, 2009 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 31 (DPA) The US government Saturday welcomed a Bangladesh proposal to prosecute war crimes committed during its 1971 liberation war.”The trials of war criminals are being held in different countries and Bangladesh has to decide on the matter after taking experiences from those countries,” US Ambassador in Dhaka James F. Moriarty said, two days after the Bangladesh parliament adopted a resolution seeking trial of the war criminals.

Moriarty said it was an internal matter for the government and the people of Bangladesh to decide.

The US envoy also welcomed Dhaka’s call for a regional anti-terrorism task force.

On Thursday, parliament approved a resolution seeking speedy prosecution of the country’s 1971 war crimes, as opposition lawmakers boycotted the session.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and senior ruling party lawmakers said the prosecutions had become a national demand.

Hasina’s Awami League party campaigned on the issue in December’s election, in which it won a landslide victory.

During Bangladesh’s war of independence against Pakistani occupation forces in 1971, according to some historians, about three million unarmed people were killed, around 200,000 women were assaulted 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 group of 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, the government sought United Nations assistance to try the suspects, some of whom entered politics.

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