Friday, 19 July 2013

Bangladesh - the war goes on

It is more than 40 years since the brutal war of independence that allowed the new nation of Bangladesh to emerge from what had been East Pakistan. In that war, up to three million people died.

Now Bangladesh is torn by riots over the conviction of two leading politicians for collaborating with the Pakistan army to target pro-independence activists during the struggle. The spiritual leader of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, Ghulam Azam, has been sent to gaol for 90 years, while another leading member of the party, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, has been sentenced to death.

The verdicts were handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka, set up in 2010 by the current government led by the Awami League. Two people have been killed in riots this week, and 100 so far this year.

Mr Mujahid was a student leader in 1971 who wanted to keep Bangladesh part of Pakistan. His party claims the trials are politically motivated, while Human Rights Watch has described them as "flawed".

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