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Monday, 03 March 2008

Staff Correspondent

Speakers at an international conference in Dhaka on Saturday called for proper documentation of war crimes committed during the independence war in 1971 so that trial of war criminals could be ensured.

They put out the call at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference on ‘genocide, truth and justice’ organised by the Liberation War Museum at the BRAC Centre Inn.

Former chief adviser to the caretaker government Muhammad Habibur Rahman, also former chief justice, inaugurated the event.

Deputy commander-in-chief in the independence war AK Khandker, Indian researcher on war crimes Ashish Nandy, Cambodian researcher on war crime documentation Farina So and Liberation War Museum trustees Sarwar Ali and Mofidul Hoque spoke on the occasion.

Habibur Rahman in said, ‘Fifty-three kinds of crimes, including 13 against human rights and four offences of genocide were committed in the independence war of Bangladesh. Some 5000 killing spots have so far been identified.’

The basic job of a state is to detect crimes and punish criminals and no state can dillydally on issues of trying war criminals, said Habibur Rahman.

‘We have failed and we are not even sorry for that… We are a small and poor nation and divided in many groups. This is why we could not even try the war criminals,’ he said.

AK Khandker said about 37,400 local war criminals were identified as per the Collaborators Act 1972. ‘The government of the time under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman began the process for the trial of the criminals. After his killing on August 15, 1975, the entire process was stopped and is yet to resume.’

The proper documentation of war crimes and the trial of the criminals are most important to establish truth and justice for looking forward and stopping such killings in the future, he said. Scholars and researchers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Japan are participating in the conference.

Today’s programmes include seminars, visit to mass killing field at Mirpur and staging of Selim Al-Deen’s play on genocide, Nimojjon, at the Experimental Theatre Hall of the Shilpakala Academy at Segun Bagicha at 7.00pm.

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