Wednesday 6 April 2011

Bangladesh - war crimes trials stall

The war that brought independence for Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) ended in 1971. Estimates of the number of lives lost range up to 3 million – many murdered in cold blood by the West Pakistan army - and perhaps 10 million people fled their homes.

Over the last few months, there have been attempts to call to account some of those responsible for atrocities during the conflict. The authorities are not going after the West Pakistan army, but alleged local collaborators who helped them.

Dozens of suspects are banned from leaving the country, and the war crimes tribunal has issued arrest warrants against five party leaders, including two former ministers, though they are not charged with war crimes, and unfortunately, the whole process has become mired in inter-party political rivalries.

The general belief is that if the opposition wins the next general election, due in 2013, it will scrap the war crimes trials, and they are the favourites. No democratic government in Bangladesh’s short history has ever won a second term.

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