Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam on Sunday termed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party as 'prime crew of the perpetrators' of crimes against humanity and said the rightwing Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is its associate. “The BNP is the main party of war criminals, and the Jamaat is its companion,” Ashraful, also the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives minister, told a press conference, a day after the main opposition party demanded scrapping of the war crimes trial and release of the detained war crimes suspects.
Ruling out the BNP's demand, the AL veteran said that none would be able to stop the ongoing trial of 1971 war crimes.
“The suspects will be tried and the court verdict will be executed in Bangladesh,” Ashraful said recalling the ruling Awami League's pre-election pledge to bring the war criminals to justice.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed at a press conference on Saturday asked the government to immediately stop the proceedings of war crimes tribunal, claiming that the tribunal was “violating human rights in an extra-judicial manner”.
"The BNP has no confidence in this tribunal. It believes that in the existing legal structure, the tribunal is nothing but a servile, rubber-stamp organisation," said the former law minister at the press conference.
In response to the BNP stance, the AL spokesman said that the opposition party had long been covertly trying to foil the war crimes trial. Now they have come out from behind the veils, he added.
All the anti-government actions designed by the opposition are only to protect the criminals who had unleashed atrocities on unarmed civilians during the Bangladesh's liberation war that left three million people killed, 200,000 women raped and tens of thousands of homesteads torched by the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators, he said.
The opposition party has engaged international lobbyists and designed various actions at home and abroad to foil the trial, alleged the minister.
But, the people bestowed support on the AL's 2008 election manifesto, and mandated the party to try the criminals, said Ashraful adding “it is a public demand and the trial will take place accordingly as many other people accused of war crimes are being tried in many countries across the globe.”
Ashraful said the country is now divided into two parts - one led by the Awami League-led government which has been trying to bring the war crimes accused to book and the other is led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party which is trying to save the war crimes perpetrators.
“You have to decide which side you will take,” the minister said expressing the government's determination to ensure a fair and transparent trial of the war crimes.