The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh has been according more privileges to the country's war crimes accused than what tribunals in other countries have been giving to their accused in similar cases, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman said yesterday.
A war crimes accused has even raised a seven-point demand, said Rahman in an oblique reference to BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, who has been accused of committing war crimes in 1971.
“Have any accused at the tribunals in Nuremberg, Tokyo, Cambodia, Yugoslavia or any other tribunal been able to raise such demands?” he asked.
The NHRC chief's comments came the same day the main opposition BNP urged the international community to raise objections to the activities of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).
Rahman was addressing the inaugural session of the National Convention of Sector Commanders' Forum (SCF) at the physical training ground of Dhaka University.
Freedom fighters and a cross-section of people participated in the convention around the slogan, “World humanity demands trial of war criminals”.
They demanded that the ICT's activities be expanded, strengthened and made more effective.
Rahman said the ICT had been upholding international standards in trying the people accused of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
The Jamaat-e-Islami, he pointed out, had appointed lobbyists in the US, the UK and the European Union to lengthen the process of the trial, and had been spewing propaganda against the tribunal in the international media.
The NHRC chairman said there were political motives behind the opposition to the trial.
“The High Court has also heard appeals regarding the law that deals with the creation of the tribunal. Which country in the world has given more privileges to perpetrators of crimes against humanity?” he asked.
Justice Gholam Rabbani, president of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, said Bangladesh could not become a secular country unless it restored the provision for a ban on religion-based political parties as enshrined in the 1972 constitution.
Such a step was essential for upholding the spirit of the Liberation War, he said.
AK Khandker, planning minister and SCF chairman, presided over the convention. SCF General Secretary M Harun-Ar-Rashid and sector commanders KM Shafiullah and Abu Osman Chowdhury also spoke at the convention.