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Bangladeshi Islamist party urges gov't to free leaders

By Naim-Ul-Karim (Xinhua)

10:49, February 05, 2013

DHAKA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's largest Islamsit party Monday threatened to escalate the armed struggle if the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government does not immediately free its leaders who face charges of war crimes.

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party issued the threat of "civil war" in the South Asian country from a rally in capital Dhaka's principal business district Motijheel on Monday.

"There is no scope to give verdict from a controversial tribunal to save the country from the civil war," said senior Jamaat leader Selim Uddin while addressing the rally.

He said, "Don't push the country towards a civil war by creating discord."

Thousands of Jamaat leaders and activists took part in the rally that began at around 10:50 a.m. local time, demanding the scrapping of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).

The party, which has long been demonstrating against the efforts of the government to try war criminals, last week enforced a daylong hartal demanding the release of its nine top detained high-ups including its spiritual leader Ghulam Azam. Jamaat issued the threat shortly after ICT-2 on Monday announced to deliver its verdict on the war crimes case against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah on Tuesday.

AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud, tribunal registrar, told reporters ICT-2 led by Justice Obaidul Hasan asked the authority concerned to register the case into Tuesday's cause list to deliver its verdict.

Mollah, assistant secretary general of Jamaat, was indicted in May, 2012 with six specific charges for his alleged involvement in murders and mass killings in 1971.

It's to be the second verdict of the ICT-2 which delivered its maiden verdict against expelled Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad on Jan. 21 more than four decades after Bangladesh's liberation war.

Mahmud told reporters that there was ample evidence of genocide, murder, rape, arson, loot, abduction, deportation and persecution against the Jamaat leader.

However, security measures have been beefed up in and around the tribunal. Police officials say security has also been tightened across Dhaka, specially at key points of the city as in a sense this is the first verdict against a directly involved political party leader.

Mollah's Jamaat is a key ally of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance. 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.

Meanwhile, the authorities deny the calls of BNP and Jamaat, saying they are creating anarchic situation in the name of political programs aimed at foiling ongoing war crimes trial.

Bangladesh's Minister of State for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku on Monday told reporters that the law enforcers will go tough against those who try to create anarchic situation after the pronouncement of verdict against the leader of Jamaat which recently showed its muscle power against the law enforcement agencies.

At least five people, including a policeman and three Jamaat men, were killed in violence triggered by Thursday's hartal ( strike) called by Jamaat.

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

But it has been plagued by criticism for targeting her political opponents from ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's BNP and its key ally Jamaat, which (Jamaat) allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani forces in 1971 to prevent an independent Bangladesh.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh was called East Pakistan until 1971. Hasina's government said about 3 million people were killed in the war although independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 died.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:张茜、Yao Chun)

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