Monday, August 11, 2008

National Mourning Day is Back

August 15 reinstated as National Mourning Day
Source: New Age
August 11, 2208

The military-controlled interim government has decided to go by the High Court judgement which restored August 15 as National Mourning Day and a public holiday, officials said.

The council of advisers at a meeting, presided over by the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed, on Sunday decided it would execute the court’s ruling which declared illegal the BNP-led alliance government decision of cancelling National Mourning Day on August 15, the death anniversary of Bangladesh’s first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

All but two of Mujib’s family were killed in a military putsch on August 15, 1975.
‘The government has decided to implement the High Court judgement,’ said an official at the Chief Adviser’s Office after the meeting, also attended by the special assistants to the chief adviser and the secretaries concerned.

On the assumption of office 21 years after Mujib’s killing, the Awami League, led by his daughter Sheikh Hasina on August 8, 1996 declared August 15 National Mourning Day and a public holiday in honour of the country’s first president.

The day had accordingly been observed until the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government of Khaleda Zia scrapped the Awami League government’s decision on August 2, 2002.

Awami League leaders thanked the government for the decision, saying the government showed respect to court by implementing the judgement.‘The government decision is a reflection of people’s expectations,’ Tofail Ahmed, an Awami League presidium member, told New Age.

When his attention was called to the restoration of August 15 as a public holiday, the BNP’s secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain said, ‘We have nothing to say they [the government] have done it in accordance with the High Court verdict.’

He also demanded that the government should declare May 30, the day when Ziaur Rahman was assassinated, a national mourning day as Zia, who declared independence of Bangladesh, had contributions to the building of the nation and his death was a great loss.

‘The day Ziaur Rahman was assassinated should also be declared a national mourning day,’ he said, putting out a call to restore November 7 as national revolution and solidarity day and a public holiday.

The Workers Party of Bangladesh president, Rashed Khan Menon, welcomed the government decision. He expected that the trial of the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would also be completed.

The Communist Party of Bangladesh general secretary, Mujahidul Islam Selim, termed the move a right decision when the country was rolling back from the ideals of the people who inspired the people to liberate the country.

Three Supreme Court lawyers, also members of pro-Awami League Bangabandhu Ainjibi Parishad, filed the public interest litigation in 2007 challenging the legality of the alliance government’s decision to this effect.

Lawyers Mozammel Haque, Mollah Abu Kaiser and MA Malek filed the petition on August 5, 2007.After a preliminary hearing in the petition, the High Court on August 6, 2007 issued a rule on the government to explain why the cancellation of national mourning day and pubic holiday on August 15 would not be declared illegal.

It also asked the government to explain why August 15 would not be observed as a national mourning day and public holiday.

A High Court bench on July 27 ruled that the BNP-led alliance government’s decision was illegal. It also declared illegal the changes made by the alliance government to the Bangladesh Flag Rules 1972, cancelling the hoisting of the national flag at half-mast to pay respect to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the day.

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