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 Mar 26 marked with calls for peace, progress....................

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PostSubject: Mar 26 marked with calls for peace, progress....................   Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:39 am



Bangladesh was commemorating the 38th anniversary of its independence on Thursday amid renewed steps to try war crimes and calls for peaceful progress.

Thousands of people streamed to Savar National Memorial from early morning to commemorate the three million people who made the ultimate sacrifice to realise the dream of a new nation.

President Md Zillur Rahman and prime minister Sheikh Hasina placed wreaths at the memorial at dawn for the freedom fighters who gave their lives during the nine-month war against Pakistan occupying forces.

The president, prime minister and opposition leader in their Independence Day messages called upon Bangladeshis at home and abroad to unite behind peaceful economic development.

The day was also greeted with a 31-gun salute at Tejgaon airport, though the traditional Independence Day parade was cancelled this year in the wake of the BDR mutiny.

On March 26, 1971, independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed Bangladesh free after the Pakistani military rulers refused to honour a popular vote in Dec 1970.

The announcement followed weeks of protests, violent campaign, the historic Mar 7 speech at the Race Course by the man who came to be lovingly called Bangabandhu, and a bloody, mindless crackdown on the innocent civilians on the fateful night of Mar 25, 1971.

The public holiday gives millions of city dwellers an extended weekend this year, but many remain uneasy as the day falls exactly a month after the Feb 25-26 mutiny at the border force's headquarters in the capital.

The government ordered beefed-up security in all its cities, towns and major installations, while parade plans were cancelled as the country still reels from the massacre that left at least 75 people dead, mainly army officers deputed to BDR.

War crimes trials under 1973 ICT Act

The law adviser announced the governments decision, on the eve of Independence Day, to try war crimes under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973.

The first meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on war crimes was held Wednesday to examine if the trials would be possible under the existing law.

One or more tribunals, of three to four members each, will be formed under the Act for the quickest trial of those accused of war crimes, said Shafiq Ahmed.

"Anyone committing or abetting in the 1971 killings, rapes, arson or other anti-humanity crimes will be tried under the act," he said.

The law minister added that the accused would have recourse to their own lawyers, and all legal rights would be guaranteed, including the right to appeal.
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Mar 26 marked with calls for peace, progress....................
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