Eminent journalist and cultural activist Kamal Lohani yesterday demanded that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia be declared a â€œwar criminalâ€ and sought her trial for her role â€œagainstâ€ the ongoing war crimes trial.
â€œIt is normal for a lady who was with the Pakistani army (in 1971) for nine months to speak against the war crimes trial,â€ said the adviser of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee.
â€œWhy should we follow a lady (Khaleda Zia) who misguides so many people, distorts actual history and drives people towards a path of lies?,â€ he said while presiding over a discussion in the capital's WVA Auditorium.
The committee organised the discussion, â€œWar Crimes Trial and Its Challenges in 2013â€, marking its 21st founding anniversary.
Mentioning several recent demonstrations of the BNP-led 18-party alliance, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said Khaleda, the leader of the opposition in parliament, has â€œpublicly sided with the war criminalsâ€.
Inu, president of Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, said, â€œKhaleda Zia should be given a chance. She should either give up Jamaat(-e-Islami) or leave politics.â€
Workers' Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon urged all pro-liberation political forces to unite in creating mass awareness against â€œthe BNP-Jamaat conspiracy to foil the war crimes trialâ€.
The committee's Acting President Shahriar Kabir demanded enactment of a law to give the International Crimes Tribunal a â€œpermanent shapeâ€ to ensure its continuation during change of governments.
He also urged the government to ensure full proof security of the tribunals and provide more skilled manpower for the prosecution. â€œTrial of the top ten accused must be completed within 2013,â€ he said.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said the trial was being held with transparency and fairness and the government would not allow anyone to interfere with it.
The committee General Secretary Kazi Mukul moderated the discussion.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Ayesha Khanam, Communist Party of Bangladesh General Secretary Syed Abu Jafar Ahmed and State Minister for Social Welfare Promode Mankin also spoke on the occasion.