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Dhaka’s theme for new year: hate war criminals

Pahela Baishakh’ (first day of Bangla New Year ) is no longer an apolitical social event in Bangladesh as the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina plans to add a theme to the event: ‘Hate the War Criminals and Their Saviours’.
The legend, “Sokol Juddhaporadhi o Tader Doshorder Ghrina Karun”, is being used in stickers, which can be found on transport vehicles, walls of educational institutions and public buildings across Bangladesh, turning the most important secular event in Bengali life into a ruling party Awami League programme to build opinion against those who committed crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.
In order to take the campaign to remote areas, the authorities have asked field administrators, such as deputy commissioners and sub-district executive officers, to do their bit by holding public functions on the theme in their areas.
The renewed campaign coincides with the ongoing trial of war criminals at the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).
At present, the ICT is trying eight people. Six of them are from the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh: Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Matiur Rahman Nizami, Delwar Hosain Sayedee, Golam Azam, Mohammad Kader Molla and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman.
Two are from the Bangladesh National Party (BNP): Salauddin Kader Chowdhury and Abdul Alim.
AB Tajul Islam, state minister in the Liberation War Ministry, told the Gulf Times in Dhaka yesterday that “almost everybody in Bangladesh hates the war criminals and their saviours”.
All want completion of the trial of the identified war criminals within the shortest possible time, he added.
“The people will never forgive the government if it fails to complete the trial within its term,” the state minister said.
“We are very optimistic that the trial will be completed within the tenure of the present government,” said Islam, a former freedom fighter in the 1971 war.
He also said family members and associates of the criminals, and the parties to which they belong, are trying to foil the trial by making false statements to the media at home and abroad.
The Internet is being used to elicit sympathy from foreign governments for the arrested war crime suspects, he added.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a firm stand that the trial must be completed within the tenure of her government.
On April 3, 2010, the War Crimes Facts Finding Committee made public a list of 1,597 war criminals, who had been involved in various crimes including killing, rape, looting and arson during the war of independence.
The list also included those who were directly involved in the crimes, such as 369 officers of the Pakistani occupation forces, 852 Razakars, 64 al-Badar members, 78 members of the Bihari community who had collaborated with the Pakistani army, 106 political collaborators and 128 members of the so called “peace committees”, formed by the Pakistani occupation forces during the war.
The committee found documents and probe reports on a number of influential professionals and political leaders who had a central role in plotting as well as committing war crimes.
Among the Pakistani war criminals, the list has the names of Generals Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, Tikka Khan, AAK Niazi, Rao Farman Ali and others.
The war crimes committee, which was formed 17 years ago, has prepared the list based on the result of a nine-year study conducted by 13 full-time researchers who gathered supporting documents– letters, office notes, cassettes, books, booklets, forensic reports, interviews, videos and paper cuttings.

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