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Let Jamaat offer public apology, says Anisul Islam

31 March 2014 bdnews24.com

A minister of Bangladesh's ruling coalition has suggested not to ban the Jamaat-e-Islami-but only if the party offered a public apology for its role during the 1971 Liberation War.
Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud came up with this suggestion two days after the investigators of Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) recommended a ban on Jamaat.
Joining a discussion organised by BBC Bangla on Saturday, Mahmud said: "My personal opinion is that it will be better not to ban the Jamaat if the party offers a public apology for its role (in 1971) and pledges to refrain from violence."
But Mahmud, a Jatiya Party Presidium member, said there should be more discussion on this issue before a final decision is taken.
The Jamaat has never offered a public apology for the atrocities its activists perpetrated in 1971.
The two war crimes tribunals have prosecuted several senior Jamaat leaders since 2010 and a number of them have already been sentenced to death or for life.
During these trials, the Jamaat's role in violently opposing the country's independence in support of the Pakistani military effort emerged. That prompted the tribunal's investigators to start a probe against the party and its affiliates to establish their war-time role.
The investigation team on Mar 25 slapped seven charges of 'crimes against humanity' against the Islamist party, setting the stage for its prosecution for its role during the Liberation War.
The first war crimes tribunal described Jamaat as a 'criminal organisation' in its verdict sentencing its top war-time leader Ghulam Azam to 90 years in prison.
The tribunal made similar observations while handing down death sentences to other Jamaat leaders like Delwar Hossain Sayedee, Abdul Quader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman.
The recent demand for a complete ban on Jamaat first started with the secular platform, Ganajagaran Mancha, which launched a mass movement in February last year demanding maximum punishment for 1971 'war criminals'.
The movement led to an amendment of the law for trial of war crimes, making it possible for trial of an entire political party and not just individuals.
Law Minister Anisul Huq has recently said the government would take 'necessary steps' after the court delivers its verdict in a case over de-registration of the Jamaat-e-Islami.
The Election Commission last year had de-registered the Jamaat because its party charter was found to be inconsistent with Bangladesh's constitution.
Interestingly, BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam, who joined Saturday's 'BBC Sanglap' along with Anisul Islam Mahmud, pulled up the ruling Awami League for its 'lack of sincerity' for banning Jamaat.
Jamaat is a close ally of the BNP.
He said, "Awami League's leaders and lawmakers are inducting Jamaat supporters into their party. I think Jamaat won't be banned as Awami League wants a compromise."
Asked whether Jamaat should apologise for its 1971 war-time role , Islam said : "As a freedom fighter, I think everyone who opposed (Bangladesh's) independence must apologise."

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