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Religious call to end culture of violence

Christians meet and mourn murder of political leader killed 36 years ago

Religious call to end culture of violence
Sheik Mujibur Rahman, father of Bangladesh's independence reporter, Dhaka

August 16, 2011

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Catholic faithful yesterday decried the country’s culture of politic violence as the nation commemorated the 36th National Mourning Day marking the death of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh’s founding father. The national flag was hung at half-mast, while people from across the country donned black ribbons and attended rallies and meetings. Others placed floral wreathes at the mausoleum of Rahman in Tungipara in Gopalgonji district, about 200 kilometres south of Dhaka. Nirmol Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said the killing of Rahman, popularly called “Bangabandhu,” or “Friend of Bangladesh", has since eroded the country’s foundations. “The killing of Bangabandhu and his family by misled army officers shattered the spirit of liberation and gave birth to a communal force that is destructive for a developing country like ours.” Rozario, a Catholic banker, added that Rahman’s death stalled the country’s development. “If Bangabandhu had lived, the country could have developed far more than it has today. The culture of political killings that began with his death has barred the expected development of Bangaladesh.” Rahman, along with his family and personal staff, was killed by a group of junior army officers on August 15, 1975, nearly four years after the nation declared its independence from Eastern Pakistan. Months of bloody conflict followed independence, in which Bangladesh claims up to three million people perished and widespread human rights violations and alleged war crimes were committed. Rahman’s killing further led to a series of coups, counter-coups and assassinations that paralyzed the country. Sister Mary Anita, 57, superior general of Bangladesh’s largest local women’s religious order, the Associates of Mary, Queen of Apostles, said the order remembered the slain leader in their prayers. “It is so painful to recall how the conspirators threw the country into misfortune by killing the great leader,” she said. “We pray to see his dreams for Bangladesh come true.” A Catholic leader from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party who asked not to be named called Rahman a visionary. “Sheikh Mujib was the dreamer of Bangladesh, and it was a grave mistake to kill him,” he said. “When leaders are killed, the whole nation suffers and lags behind. If the culture of political killings is not restrained, the objectives of the liberation war will fall flat on their face.” Related reports: High Court sentences 12 to death for killing country's founder in coup
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