News / Asia

Bangladesh to Hold Trials for 1971 War Crimes

Bangladesh, four decades after the violent struggle that led to independence from Pakistan, is planning to hold trials for those accused of committing war crimes. The plans for what could be highly sensitive war crimes trials come as Bangladesh celebrates Friday its 39th anniversary of declaring independence from Pakistan.   

Bangladesh officials say those facing trial allegedly sided with Pakistan during the 1971 war of liberation. The government says defendants will be tried for crimes against humanity, genocide, murder, rape and arson.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed, speaking to VOA's Bangla language service, says justice has been a long time coming.

Ahmed says the long-held expectations of Bangladeshis for the tribunal are about to be fulfilled. He notes that the parties in the government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, campaigned on a platform of bringing war criminals to justice.

Ms. Hasina's father, Bangladesh's founder and independence war hero, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had intended to hold such trials before he was assassinated in a 1975 coup.

Prime Minister Hasina has long contended some of those behind the coup would have faced trial for war crimes. The subsequent government freed more than 10,000 war crime suspects.

There are concerns, however, the  tribunal could be used to extract revenge on opponents of the governing Awami League.

International Crisis Group Senior Asia Analyst Michael Shaikh, speaking from Chiang Mai, Thailand, tells VOA nearly all Bangladeshi governments have used the judiciary to get at political opponents.

"However, in this case, I think all eyes are on Bangladesh. This is a pretty incredible and important step for them. This has been a long-standing demand by countless Bangladeshis. Bangladesh should be given a chance to prove that it's willing to play by international standards with the judicial process," he said.

Tens of thousands of people in what was then East Pakistan took up arms to oppose Bangladeshi independence. Others who expressed loyalty to Pakistan were deemed as collaborators but were granted amnesty following the war.

The war - in which India, located between West and East Pakistan, provided financial aid and military support for the rebels - is believed to have left three million people dead.

Bangladesh says millions of people were displaced by the nine-month guerilla conflict and 200,000 women were raped. Rights groups have also alleged "ethnic cleansing" that targeted East Pakistan's Hindu minority.

Pakistan contends the issue of war crimes was settled in a 1974 treaty signed by it, Bangladesh and India.

Officials say the tribunal will be led by three judges, including a High Court justice.

The chairman, Justice Nizamul Huq Nasim, told the Daily Star newspaper in Dhaka the trials will be held in a way so that "the real culprits, and not a single innocent person, are punished."

The trials, which could begin as early as next month, are to be conducted by a 12-member panel of government-appointed lawyers.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid