Sunday, July 27, 2008

High Court Rules Scrapping Aug 15 Holiday Illegal

Bangladesh rules scrapping "Mujib" holiday illegal
July 27, 2008

High Court Rules Scrapping August 15th Holiday Illegal?
DHAKA (Reuters) - The Bangladesh High Court ruled on Sunday that the cancellation of a public holiday to mark the death of the country's founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was illegal.

The August 15 annual holiday was scrapped six years ago by the government of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, after she won a 2001 election by defeating Mujib's daughter Sheikh Hasina, another former prime minister.

Mujib was killed with most members of his family in a military coup on August 15, 1975, beginning years of rule by army generals, including Khaleda's husband Ziaur Rahman, himself killed in a 1981 mutiny.

Hasina introduced Aug. 15 as public holiday to mourn her father after she won power in a 1996 election, but her rival Khaleda scrapped it in 2002, despite protests by Hasina's Awami League.

"The High Court also asked the country's incumbent interim government to take steps to rectify the illegal decision by the previous government (regarding the Aug. 15 holiday)," a court official told reporters.

The court issued the ruling after a petition by a supporter of Mujib who, as chief of the Awami League, launched the independnce campaign for East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in the early 1960s.

He formally gave the directive for a guerrilla war in March 1971. He was arrested by the Pakistani army but his followers led the war to achieve independence from Pakistan in December 1971, with the help of India.

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