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Bangladesh veterans urge war crimes trials for 1971 independence war

[JURIST] Hundreds of Bangladesh veterans who took part in the 1971 War of Independence [Global Security backgrounder] issued a call Friday for war crimes trials against those Bangladeshis who assisted Pakistani forces in the war. Veterans and commanders from the war gathered in the city of Dhaka, under the banner of the Bangladesh Liberation War Sector Commanders' Forum [advocacy website], to urge Bangladesh's interim government [JURIST report] to at least initiate the tribunals. Among those included in the call are leaders of Bangladesh's largest political party, Jamaat-e-Islami [party website], who at the time of the war, opposed the separation of Pakistan. To this day the party has said that there was not a war of independence in 1971, instead calling it a civil war and denying any involvement. A possible reason for the timing of the demands is that the veterans want to ban Jamaat-e-Islami from taking part in the elections that are to be held in December. Top interim government officials have said that it is too busy with other issues, including the year-end elections, to respond to the war crimes issue.

According to government records, around three million people were killed during the war. Bangladesh has never held trials for war crimes as earlier governments have said that trials would harm national unity. BBC News has more. The Khaleej Times has additional coverage.

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