12:00 AM, January 30, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 30, 2009

JS passes proposal to try war criminals

It's now a national demand, says PM moving resolution

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Staff Correspondent

Parliament yesterday unanimously passed a resolution calling on the government to ensure immediate trial of the war criminals.
The historic motion came five days into inauguration of the ninth legislature.
It is meant to affirm the ruling Awami League's (AL) electoral pledge that if voted to power, it would put on trial those who had committed atrocious crimes against the nation during the Liberation War in 1971.
“Measures be taken immediately to try the war criminals,” reads the resolution adopted amid thunderous desk-thumping.
The proposal was piloted by Mahmud-us-Samad Chowdhury, AL lawmaker from Sylhet-3.
Taking part in discussions on the motion, Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina said her government is now gathering experts' opinions on the issue from across the globe. The foreign ministry is working on the matter.
Urging Speaker Abdul Hamid to take the resolution as a property of the House, she said “The war criminals will be brought to justice, no matter what.”
Following the discussions, State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Tajul Islam said the trial would be held in a credible and transparent manner so there arises no question over the proceedings.
“The war criminals will for sure be tried on the soil of Bangla,” he added.
Planning Minister AK Khandaker, who was the deputy commander-in-chief of the Liberation War forces, thanked parliament for adopting the resolution.
He said, “People will sleep in peace tonight. For many, it's the beginning of the end of the torments they have been enduring for 38 long years.”
Khandaker also fronts the Sector Commanders Forum that has been campaigning vigorously against the war criminals for the last couple of years.
Mahmud-us-Samad's proposal was seconded by his party colleagues Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tipu Munshi, AKM Rahmatullah, Enamul Haque, KH Rashiduzzaman and Golam Dastagir Gazi.
A little change was brought by adding the word “immediately” to the original phrase.
As the state minister for liberation war affairs rose to reply to the proposed resolution, the lawmakers chorused aloud that the prime minister should speak on such an important matter.
At that point, Hasina took the floor, and said it doesn't matter who of the government should reply to this motion. “Trial of the war criminals is now a demand of the nation.”
AL lawmakers Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Major (retd) Rafiqul Islam, and Workers Party lawmakers Rashed Khan Menon and Fazle Hossain Badsha, among others, spoke in favour of the proposal.
Officials at the Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat said the resolution is the first in around a decade to be passed by the House after being proposed by a lawmaker other than a minister.
The opposition MPs were not present on the occasion as they skipped the day's proceedings in protest at the rearranged seat plans.

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