Govt alerts agencies concerned but no list prepared
The government on Friday ordered all agencies concerned to bar the suspected war criminals from leaving the country.
‘All relevant information about the war criminals have already been sent to the agencies concerned asking them to guard all points so that the war criminals cannot flee the country,’ home minister Sahara Khatun told reporters after attending the 23rd annual conference of Bangladesh Law Association at the Annex Complex on the premises of the law faculty of Dhaka University.
The home minister came up with the statement after Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday night approved unanimously a resolution seeking speedy prosecution of the 1971 war criminals.
The minister refused to give the list of the war criminals barred from leaving the country.
‘Why ask for details,’ Sahara told reporters and walked away.
A high official of the home ministry, however, said that the ministry was yet to prepare a list of the war criminals.
After 1972, the government has not prepared any list of the war criminals, said another high official.
Immigration officials at the Zia International Airport and Benapole Land Port told New Age Friday evening that they had not yet received any such instructions.
A home ministry official said a general instruction was issued to the authorities concerned not to allow any suspected war criminals to leave the country. He, however, added that no list was sent to the authorities.
Law minister Shafique Ahmed also said that the home ministry had issued instructions to the authorities concerned in this regard after being asked to do so.
The government in 1972 prepared a list of 37,000 war criminals and they were also sued.
The process of trial and conviction was, however, impeded by a general amnesty for the collaborators, declared by the then prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on November 30, 1973.
Under the general amnesty, about 26,000 of the 37,000 people held or convicted under the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order 1972 were released. While the amnesty did not apply to those charged with murder, rape or arson, most of the collaborators, especially the bigwigs involved in abduction and other general collaboration charges, were released. A large number of persons charged with murder, rape or arson, including known collaborators, were also released.
The collaborators order was finally revoked on December 31, 1975 and almost all of the collaborators convicted or indicted were released in the early days of the regime of Ziaur Rahman.
The War Crimes Facts Finding Committee, a research organisation, on April 3, 2008, unveiled a list of 1,597 war criminals responsible for genocide, rape and other atrocities during the Liberation War.
Of those on the list, 369 are members of Pakistani military, 1,150 are their local collaborators, including members of Razakar and Al Badr [forces formed to aid the occupation army] and Peace Committee, and 78 are Biharis.
On December 23, 2008, Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad published a list of 600 war criminals responsible for mass killing, rape and other misdeeds during the country’s Liberation War.
Sector Commanders Forum, a platform of war veterans, on November 4 made public their preliminary list of 50 war criminals, which includes Jamaat-e-Islami amir Matiur Rahman Nizami and its secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid. It also demanded trial of war criminals under the International Crimes Tribunal Act, 1973.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Friday said that the party would back trial of war criminals if it was ‘properly’ done and was not politically motivated.
BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain said the demand for trial of war criminals had their moral support and none should have any objection to it.
Grassroots level leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami on Friday asked the leadership of the party to take ‘legal protection’ against the government’s move for trial of war criminals.
When asked if the members of the central Majlish-e-Shura, highest decision making body of the party, had discussed the parliament’s decision on the ‘immediate trial of war criminals’, a central secretary admitted, ‘A number of delegates raised the issue. They advised the Jamaat leaders to take legal protection.’
Addressing a law association conference, state minister for law, Quamrul Islam sought cooperation from the members of the Bangladesh Law Association and the countrymen, especially lawyers, in the trial of the war criminals, a major election pledge of the present government.
‘This move of the government would be successful through a bold and unique role of the judges and the lawyers,’ he said.