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Saturday, February 9, 2013
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Youths rekindle spirit of '71

Tens of thousands of people raise voice against religion-based politics, demand capital punishment to war criminals, vow to boycott Jamaat-Shibir

People turned up in droves at the city's Shahbagh intersection yesterday to demand death penalty to all war criminals of 1971. Photo: Rashed Shumon

The nation yesterday saw the biggest gathering in recent memory as tens of thousands thronged the capital's Shahbagh intersection to call for death penalty for the war criminals, including Abdul Quader Mollah, of 1971.

Men and women, boys and girls, young and old -- tens of thousands of them -- from all walks of life filled the few square kilometres area to the brim.

Since the daybreak, people, many with their families, started flocking the intersection first in their hundreds and then in thousands, carrying national flags, banners and placards for the 3:00pm mass rally. By then, the crowd stretched as far as the eye can see.

From Matsya Bhaban in the south to Kataban intersection in the north and from Hotel Ruposhi Bangla intersection in the east to TSC in the west, people were everywhere. Overwhelming was the participation of young generation -- students of schools, college and universities -- the life force of the movement.

In thunderous chants, they made their demand for death sentence to all war criminals and registered their determination to resist Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir.

It was the fourth day of the non-stop protest, which began hours after a war crimes tribunal on Tuesday sentenced Jamaat leader Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War.

The movement was launched by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon transformed into a people's movement. Demonstrators say a life sentence for Mollah was too lenient. They want death sentence for him.

Protestors have kept the interaction in their possession since Tuesday afternoon, with several hundreds of them staying overnights without sleep.

From yesterday's rally, people took an oath to continue the movement until their demand is met. In addition to capital punishment to the war criminals, the demonstrators called for banning Jamaat and its student wing, Shibir.

People also vowed to boycott all businesses, banks, media outlets and social and cultural organisations owned by Jamaat leaders.

"We pledge to keep on demanding trial under a special tribunal of those Razakars and Al-Badrs who were convicted and were under trial but freed after 1975," said Imran H Sarkar, administering the oath from a makeshift stage erected atop a truck at the intersection.

Imran, convener of Bloggers and Online Activist Network, is one of the initiators of the movement.

"We pledge that we will continue our movement from Teknaf to Tetulia under the leadership of general people until highest punishment is given to Razakars-Al-Badrs who committed crimes against humanity like genocide and rape in 1971," protestors vowed after Imran.

The mass rally began with the recitation of a poem and rendering of the national anthem.

"This is another 1971," said Mili Rahman, widow of Birshrestha Matiur Rahman.

"Today we are united in voicing our single demand. We freed the country in 1971 and today you will free it once again from Razakars and Jamaat-Shibir…. None can hold us back," she said.

Noted writer Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said, "I am here to offer my apology to you. I wrote in newspapers that the new generation only hits 'like' on Facebook and writes on blogs, but does not take to the streets. You have proved me wrong, and I thank you all for this."

"The year 2013 has turned into 1971 and those of you who did not see 1971 are now witnessing '71 in the year of 2013," he added.

"Study when it's time to study, write poems when it's time to write poems, listen to music when it's time to listen to music … and take to the streets when you need to. It is the happiest day of my life. All the martyrs and the country people are thankful to you," he said.

Veteran journalist Kamal Lohani said the whole nation heard the roars of the mass people. "The only punishment to the war criminals, not only Quader but all, is capital punishment. Besides, their politics will also have to be banned."

A number of speakers came down heavily on a section of foreign media for what they called its negative coverage of the war crimes trial and the ongoing movement. Protesters were heard chanting slogans against some foreign media.

Speaking at the rally, Sector Commanders Forum Senior Vice-chairmen Maj Gen (retd) KM Shafiullah said, "It's a rebirth of 1971….

"We'll have to carry on our movement until our one and only demand is met."

Also spoke on the occasion Dhaka University Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, Jahangirnagar University VC Prof Anwar Hossain, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University VC Prof Pran Gopal Dutta, Hasan Imam, cultural personality and novelist Anisul Haq, Shaon Mahmud, daughter of Shaheed Altaf Mahmud, and Shyamoli Nasreen Chowdhury, widow of Shaheed Dr Alim Chowdhury.

A numerous numbers of socio-cultural and political organisations and professional bodies expressed solidarity with the demonstrators.

Addressing the rally, Hasan Tarek, general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, demanded cancellation of memberships of Quader Mollah and Kamaruzzaman from the Jatiya Press Club.

Some private university students joined the demonstration wearing black T-shirts and ropes hanging from their necks, demanding capital punishment to all war criminals.

"Either the war criminals will be hanged or we will hang ourselves," said Rezaul Karim, an MBA student of Independent University Bangladesh.

Tania Tun Noor, a BBA student of Dhaka City College, held a placard that read: "Shakunera akhono potaka chhareni," meaning the vultures are still clutching the flag.

"The theme of the placard is that the black hands of Jamaat-Shibir are still clutching our flag and they are trying to take the country backward," she said.

Around 100 children, aged between four and 15, of Khelaghar Dhaka Mohanagar joined the movement, chanting: "Ar kono dabi nai, Razakarder fashi chai," which means "we want nothing except for the capital punishment to the Razakars."

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Joy Bangla

: narayan

Where is voice against Padma bridge corruption, where is true voice Rail corruption, where is freedom fighter voice bank corruption, where is voice of killing Illias Ali, Bishwajit and many other more in Bangladesh!

: shawon

Comments

  • Rubo
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:40 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    The rekindling of 71's spirit by our youths has opened a new opportunity for us to protest against injustice, misrule, misuse of power, corruption, nepotism etc. Let Shahbagh Square become the focal point of our protests against corruptions like Padma bridge, Railway scandal, Hawa Bhaban etc.

  • abdus salim
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 01:00 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I am looking forward to see from this youth a new political party formed with mass support.

  • Chandan
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 01:14 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    You are spirit for our nation. Salute! You are the great hero for our nation. I am non resident Bangladeshi want do something for them.

  • arif
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:44 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    People are the real owner of power of a country.

  • anonymous
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 03:59 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I am proud of our young generation. I salute you. Please go ahead. We are with you.

  • Masum
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 04:08 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Salute those youths who ring the wake up call to the nation. Razakars (Killers) should be dumped.

  • Asif
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 06:24 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Really proud of it! However, we should also do this for the wrongdoings of our govt and oppositions! Only then we can see Golden Bangladesh.

  • kalyankar
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 07:34 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I call it Shahbagh renaissance that will have a positive impact in the society.

  • Mashuque
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:45 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I am proud of our younger generation for proving many of us wrong.

  • Misir Ali
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:57 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    That's the spirit! Keep it up! We're always with you. Let's show them that we, the people, can do anything if we want.

  • Jumaan Sarwar
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:43 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    While I don’t want to dampen the spirit of anybody but I would like people realise the consequence of demanding rights being taken away from the people because of their guilt by association, religion etc. The current crisis as I see is an outcome of natural consequence that what we see about 70 years ago in Nazi Germany. False nationalism was instigated. The AL has never been sincere in any issue that matters most to the nation. Had they been so, we would have Padma Bridge, no Suranjit, no patriot like Abul(s) and truly an international court for war crimes.

  • Reza
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:27 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    The new generation who hates the dirty politics of compromise is united in one demand - the Capital Punishment of War Criminals and ban their politics in our country...! The supporters of War Criminals will face the same fate.

  • ashfaq choudhury
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 01:08 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Can this energy level be shown towards all incidents where our country's honour and interests are violated by a few thugs. Hope all political parties are taking a note of this.

  • A Choudhury
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:45 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I am proud to see the human sea of young generation recreating the spirit of

    1971 war of Independence. Those who collaborated and actively participated with the Pakistanis in crimes against our people must now migrate to their beloved Pakistan.

  • Shahjahan
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:58 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is the right way to confirm appropriate punishment to all the war Criminals...

  • Muktadir Hossain
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 11:41 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    We will hang all the rajakars and anyone who supports them. That's the oath of the youth!

  • Mashrur Moin Udvaash
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 01:01 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Raise Young Voice and Demand-

    One: Immediately amend International War Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 to ensure highest punishment of the local collaborators – Razakar, Al-Badar, Al-shams during the Bangladesh Liberation War 1971.

    Two: Ban immediately all kind of religious politics by amending law.

    Three: Take most effective initiative by amending law that most acceptable to all to make the next national election free, fare and most transparent.

  • Roni Rahman
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:13 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    AL and the left parties need to be careful not to exploit nationalism card and to bash and propagate ideas of banning constitutionally guaranteed right of religion-based politics. They will bare the consequences of ending up with a divided nation with our own citizens at each other's throats. Support for war crimes trial and religion-based politics are totally two separate issues. Most of the people, including BNP, support war crime trials but they want the trial to be non-political, unbiased, and without any government influences. Even the war crimes victims want the same thing. Our hope is that this gathering is aimed at that. The target of solidarity should be directed at the government who is closely embedded and in control of this ICT who rendered this punishment verdict.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:14 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Congratulations to our youths. I wish they were equally vocal against the thuggery of our politicians regardless of their party affiliation.

  • A Bangalee
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:22 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This movement has been organised by the young people of the country. But hidden among them are people who do not belong to this country. Bangladeshis must think seriously actually who are behind this movement.

  • Nayeem
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:44 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I request to my friends at Shahbag Square that please force our top two leaders of top two parties to come together to stop Jamaat-Shibir, and recent confusions.

  • Nayeem
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:51 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is our country. Any single party has no right to create violence in this country.

  • From USA
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 03:26 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I couldn't be happier for Bangladesh. Religion should be between a person and his/her God and it should never be used to dictate over other people. I for one, am so proud that the people, especially the young generation in Bangladesh finally stood out against such atrocities and terror that this religion-based politics have been playing in the country. I hope you know that we all are with you in spirit in this journey! Soon, you will enjoy the freedom and prosperity. The whole world is with you guy!

  • Amjad Hossain
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 03:53 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    It would be unconstitutional and undemocratic to ban Jamaat-e-Islam as political party. They did totally criminal activities in the country during the War of Liberation. An internationally standard court could have been instituted with international judges to pass the judgement on the crimes committed by them. An 'Arab spiring' should start in Bangladesh to drive out old politicians from all political parties from Bangladesh. Bangladesh does not belong to any coterie, neither Awami League nor BNP or Jatiya Party. A new young blood, but honest should join politics of today.

  • Tirtho Mahmud
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 02:53 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This effort of the new generation is highly commendable. However, I think it should be a platform to boycott of not only Jammat and all Islamist wings, it should be a platform to boycott violent student politics in all its forms. The memory of Bishwajit who was hacked to death in front of the world media is still fresh, and similar brutality is taking place in Bangladesh every year. I sincerely hope the organisers will be able keep this spirit of positive activism alive, and spread in other areas of local politics that exploit violence and bloodshed to further their agenda and keep the caring youth in the dark. Let this awakening be a window of opportunity to take Bangladesh forward to a new culture of democratic governance and social progress. Wish you Godspeed.

  • deep purple blue
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 12:33 PM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is a remarkable event in the history of our country. While I congratulate the young generation for this unique mass mobilisation that should put our political parties to shame they should be reminded that while it is okay to protest and make demands but mob justice isn't justice and vengeance isn't justice either. One must not dictate the courts just as the present and past governments have prevailed over the judiciary.

    The young leaders should use this occasion to force our leaders to reach agreement to hold inclusive, free and fair elections.

  • dr. mokhlesur rahman
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 04:08 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    The 1971 spirit is back. Let all the anti-liberation forces be eliminated from the country for establishing a real secular society. Although I am currently out of country, virtually I am with the spirited youths. Let them lead the protest peacefully until the objectives are achieved.

  • Barkat
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 04:24 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    If Bangladesh needs to progress towards working democracy than Judiciary should be supreme and independent from any political or mob pressure. If mob numbers start making changes in judicial verdict it will be dangerous for healthy working democracy. Justice should be delivered based on facts and truth and not on mob demand or political pressure. All who are present in protest should understand that free and fair justice is more vital and important for Bangladesh than just punishing few individual based on emotion of mob.

  • Syed Karim
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 04:47 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is one giant step from preventing Bangladesh turning into Pakistan. Ban Jamaat and Shibir before it is too late!

    Earlier in the week, I was shocked to see Jamaat and Shibir thugs violently protesting the sentencing of 1971 war criminal Quader Mollah. This is outright treason and an insult to those 3 million Bangalees killed by the racist Pakistan army.

    I am glad to see the patriotic people of Bangladesh took to the streets to show their support for stiffer sentences for 1971 war criminals.

  • neutral
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 05:00 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    An occasion for the poet, singer and artists to keep this most historic events alive and to contribute their ingenuity and talents by putting up their professional talents on display, CD recordings and any things which will contribute to remember these days of the glorious history of Bangladesh.

    A new chapter is written of people's power. No amount of provocation and intimidation be allowed to misdirect the people's resolute power to achieve the objectives.

    Be careful. The victory line is still away but not beyond your will to cross and win, and win decisively..

  • naabaj
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 05:23 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Amar Desh is shaking and trying to mislead people by twisting the oaths of the youth. They know that their news are to support their fascist masters who also are hiring lobbyists with millions laundered from Bangladesh from their businesses which this mass wants to boycott.

  • nuton
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 05:30 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is it. That's what we want. We're united for the sake of our Shonar Bangla. If somebody has any objection, doors open to go to Pakistan and don't bother our democratic and progressive country.

  • Ahmed Badruzzaman
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 05:48 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I am proud of the stand our new generation has taken. For too long politician have used the war crimes issue to gain an advantage for their narrow benefit while those who committed the war crimes went free. What a shame. Now that the youth and the people of all stripes have spoken out, there will be no room for such machinations.

    I hope the country's politicians, of all parties, also take notice. The youth of this generation has risen as did the youth of my generation in 1971. Rampant corruption and muscle power of these politicians will also not go unchallenged.

  • Kazi Salim
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 05:58 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This historic gathering depicts the spirits and determination of the people to see the death sentences of all the war criminals of 1971. This is a real spirit of upholding the history and safeguarding our Liberation War at any cost. The demand of this historic gatherings are 100% legal and genuine. Actions should be taken and implemented immediately by the govt. Now the United Nations has the real and major responsibility to bring those Pakistani War Criminals to book at any cost to show respect to the millions of the Bangladeshi people, and the intensity and ferocity of the genocide committed by the Pakistani Military Junta in 1971. The Pakistani War Criminals army should not be allowed to die without facing tough punishments for their sins and crimes. UN should think about its task to be done, as it has done to other countries against the War Criminals, like in Bosnia, Cambodia, East Timor: Liberia, Rwanda and other countries.

  • Mohammad Gani
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 06:32 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    What were the exact missions and visions of Freedom in 1971? Are these youths talking about those at all?

  • sharier_rahman
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 06:59 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Its great to see young people finally voiced their concerns about the country, but what these old politically aligned speakers doing among the young taking advantage of their innocence?

  • Zakiul Islam
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 07:36 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is how young generation have taken the lead...we need true liberation.

  • SIHAB SAHRIAR MAKSUD
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 08:07 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Only Capital Punishment to war criminals. They have no party, no country.

  • Kamal
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 08:48 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Let the spirit unite our nation again and change the current political culture. It proves Bangle Tigers are roaring again. The nation will see the change soon.... Salute to our today's youths. Go on....

  • AKM Fazlul Hoque
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 09:01 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Pay the dues. Hang the culprits of 1971.

  • Hamid
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 09:46 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    All of the war criminals should be punished. If I imagine the scenario of the 1971, I can't stop my tears.

  • Bazlur Rahman
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 09:54 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Great. Undone works of liberation war hoped to be completed by this young generation.

  • Parvez Babul, Journalist and columnist
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 09:57 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    I salute, congratulate and thank the organisers, participants and the supporters of this great gathering! The government and all the political parties of Bangladesh must take the lessons from this grand rally. I express solidarity with the demands and wish their success. Good luck and cheers to you all!!!

  • Turja, Canada
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:00 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Splendid, fantastic, energetic, rightful demand. You are the best. All are with you except a handful criminals and their silent associates. Carry on, the whole world is with you.

  • Mohammad Jasim Uddin
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:06 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Hundred thousand gathered at Shahbag and and hundred thousand at home are with the same spirit.

  • zerosopher
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:29 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    What is the spirit of '71...? Just some slogans or road shows are not convincing.

  • nazmul
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:42 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    Youth can do everything. It is a message to all political parties that we are ready to turn country into right track. It is political leaders responsible to lead us properly, otherwise let us go in our own. Demand capital punishment to all 71 traitors.

  • Balaram Das Raju
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 11:04 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    We are a independent nation. So we have varieties of responsibilities for our country, So we raise our voice against this criminals.

  • Hafeejul Alam
    Saturday, February 9, 2013 11:11 AM GMT+06:00 (90 weeks ago)

    This is Bangladesh--vibrant, moderate, democratic, secular and progressive. This is Bangladesh, where there is no place for fanaticism, narrow-mindedness or religious bigotry.


 

 


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