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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Commission being formed to probe 2001 violence


Dhaka, Dec 14 ( government is forming a commission, in line with a High Court order, to investigate reported acts of killing, rape, looting and assault on minorities and Awami League workers following the 2001 general election won by BNP.

"It is being formed," prime minister Sheikh Hasina said on Monday.

"Earlier the formation of such a commission was ordered in a High Court verdict, and the ministers of home and law and secretaries of the cabinet and home affairs were asked to take steps on this matter," she said.

Hasina urged the people to help the commission with information on the post-poll violence during that time.

The prime minister was speaking at a discussion meeting on the occasion of the Martyred Intellectuals Day at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Hasina said there was "no difference between the extreme violence and inhumane murders that took place after the 2001 national election and the killings of intellectuals."

"After the 2001 election, they (the killers) wanted to wipe out Awami League from Bangladesh, but they could not," she said.

Hasina blamed former president General Ziaur Rahman for repatriating anti-liberation forces in politics. She said the most army officers were killed in Zia's tenure -- 565 officers of the air force alone.

She also accused BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia of aiding and abetting militant Islamists.

Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said the primary procedure of the war crimes trial is going to start from February.

Vice-chancellor Dhaka University professor AAMS Arefin Siddique said the murderers of the intellectuals are well known. Rule of law will be established through the trial.

Among the others, agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury and deputy leader of parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury were present at the meeting.

The High Court on May 6 asked the government to form a commission to probe the violent incidents including killing, rape, attack and plundering after the eighth parliamentary elections. It asked for a report by the commission in the next six months.

The bench of justices ABM Khairul Haque and Mohammad Momtaz Uddin Ahmed gave the orders upon a writ petition by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.

The court had ordered the government to explain why forming judicial committee will not be ordered to investigate the violence on Feb 1, 2001, after writ petition by the rights body.

Following the general elections which were won by a coalition led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) with a large majority, BNP supporters reportedly attacked Hindus because of their perceived support for the rival Awami League during elections.

Hundreds of Hindu families were reportedly driven off their land by groups affiliated to the BNP-led coalition who, in some cases, allegedly burnt their homes and raped Hindu women. Several Hindus were reportedly killed.

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