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Demand for victims' right to appeal

The capital's Shahbagh took a different look yesterday. The surrounding buildings, billboards, lampposts, trees on central reservations and even the tarmac became the means of expressing people's demands.
“Rights to appeal. Why victim's rights to be denied?” a group of youths wrote on the street in white paint and flowers. The simple two sentences were enough to share their agony with the mass.
Banners, placards, graffiti and paintings demonstrated other popular demands that were also chanted by tens of thousands of protesters at the square for the last four days.

Their grievances were against the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, which kept very little right for the victims to appeal against a verdict of the tribunal as well as against the government. It was not amended to ensure this right for the war crime victims of 1971.
As per section 21 (1) of the act, “A person convicted of any crime specified in section 3 and sentenced by a tribunal shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh against such conviction and sentence.”

But section 21 (2) of the act says, “The government [which represents the victims in the war crimes trial] shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh against an order of acquittal.”
Hasib Nomanee, an independent filmmaker and a member of the group, said, “It's unfair and injustice.”
The victim should have equal rights to appeal against any verdict of the tribunal, said Nomanee and demanded that the government amends the act to give equal rights by incorporating the words “or inadequacy of sentence” in section 21 (2) in the ongoing session.
"We were the victims in 1971 as our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters were killed. Now we are again becoming the victim… of inadequate laws," he said.
A festoon hanging from a tree on the central reservation was demanding the legal rights to try Jamaat-e-Islami at the tribunal as a party as the party as whole was involved in crimes against humanity and genocide.

“Trial of Jamaat to be held as a war criminal organisation -- Jamaat is Nazi of Bangla,” a poster read.
Currently, there is no provision under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, to try any organisation or party at the tribunal.
The tribunal in its recently delivered verdict against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah said, "The act of 1973 remains silent as regards responsibility of any 'organisation' for the atrocities committed in the territory of Bangladesh in 1971 war of liberation.”
Hafiz Asad Ankon, a freelance photographer, said Jamaat must be tried as a war criminal organisation for committing crimes during the Liberation War.

“The government should amend the law, if necessary, to bring Jamaat under trail as a party,” he added.
According to documents, at the historic Nuremberg Tribunal in Germany, which was formed for trying Nazi war criminals of World War II, trials of seven Nazi organisations were held alongside 21 individuals.
A festoon at the rally demanded ban on Jamaat-e-Islami after trying the party at the tribunal.
A six-year-old girl had a placard hung from her neck which read, “I don't want to grow up in a society with Razakars.”
A group of youths were carrying a coffin and chanting, “The coffin is ready… [we] want the body. Hang the Razakars.”
Vice-Chancellor Prof Anwar Hossain of Jahangirnagar University at the rally said the parliament needs to pass a law that ensures the right of the victims of atrocities committed in 1971 to appeal. He said it seemed to him that the suspects were enjoying the right which the victims did not have.
A festoon at the rally read, “We don't want tax-payers' money spent on keeping razakars in jail.”

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