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Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Shahbagh Protests

Spring adds colour, zeal

She may have a garland of flowers wrapped around her arm on the first day of Falgun, the Bangla month marking the beginning of spring, but her bandana and vigorous slogans made it very clear what she wanted and that she should not be taken lightly. The photo was taken at Shahbagh yesterday where thousands have been demanding death penalty for all war criminals. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq

One can argue that spring came to Shahbagh nine days ahead of its official start. That it came on the day the nation took to the streets, seeking to finally get justice for the crimes committed against humanity four decades ago.

It came on February 5 when the so-called “apathetic” and “apolitical” men and women used Facebook and blogs not to start a new fad, but a revolution.

That it came on the day when the housewife in Moghbazar, the businesswoman in Gulshan and the garment worker in Mirpur felt an urge so strong that they left their homes and offices for Shahbagh to chant slogans together with the demonstrators.

And that it arrived on the day when the rickshaw puller from Chittagong came to Dhaka with his meagre savings, having heard of the mass movement, to be a part of history.

And they may all be right. But yesterday, on Pahela Falgun, the people's movement at Shahbagh celebrated spring officially in all its revolutionary glory, chanting slogans such as, "Boshonter kalo daag, ei Boshonte muchhe jak" (let the black spot of the spring be wiped out this spring).

According to the demonstrators, the "black spot" is Jamaat-e-Islami, the party that actively opposed the country's Liberation War and six of whose top leaders are now being tried for war crimes.

Men and women flocked to the protest venue, vowing to make it the season of reawakening and renewal. Songs turned into slogans, slogans songs -- all tuned to the demand for a just trial of the war criminals.

Garlands and crowns made with spring flowers lent the sombre air of Shahbagh a festive look, without compromising the seriousness of the cause. Marigolds, roses and green leaves were used to transform the streets into colourful canvases to express the sentiments of the protestors.

"Even the cuckoo sang songs of resistance this year," said a university student, dressed in a yellow sari. The words “We want death sentence” were inscribed on one of her cheeks and “Pahela Boshonto” on the other.

Instrumental music played at Fine Arts' Bakultola, only a few yards away from the Shahbagh intersection, heralded the beginning of spring at 7:00 in the morning. As usual, the day's programme began with the rendering of the national anthem.

A cultural programme began at 3:00pm with protest songs and poetry recitations and continued through the evening, as thousands of people gathered. Some stopped by the demonstration to and from Bokultola and TSC where they went for the spring celebrations. Others remained at Shahbagh all day, refusing to take a break even to enjoy the events of the new season.

Fakir Alamgir, Subir Nandi and singers from Chhayanaut, among others, engaged the crowd with renditions of patriotic and inspirational songs.

A one-minute silence was observed from 7:00pm to commemorate the sacrifices of those who lost their lives during the Liberation War, the women who were raped, and those killed by Jamaat-Shibir since the independence. The silence was broken by the emotive renditions of violin, during which the whole crowd stood still.

Following the one-minute silence, a large portrait of Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam was unveiled near the main stage of the protest venue.

Later in the evening, Selina Hayat Ivy, mayor of Narayanganj City Corporation, joined the movement to express her solidarity.

In the morning, representatives of the Shahbagh protest and different student groups placed wreaths at Shaheed Minar in remembrance of Debashis Bhattacharya Rupam, a Chhatra Moitree member who was killed by Shibir on Pahela Falgun in 1995.

The movement began on February 5, soon after a war crimes tribunal sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life term in prison for crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. The protest was initiated by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon turned into a mass movement. Within days, it spread to other parts of the country, with the call for capital punishment to all war criminals getting louder and louder.

Yesterday, the organisers urged all to participate in a candlelight vigil from wherever they are at 7:00pm today to eradicate darkness from people's minds and from the country.

They also thanked the Jatiya Press Club for cancelling the membership of Jamaat leaders Quader Mollah and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman.

Belal Mohammad, one of the founders and organisers of the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, expressed solidarity with the protesters.

Actor Bonya Mirza, media personality Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu, singer Krishnokoli, among others, came to Shahbagh to lend their support.

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Enough is enough! A nation psyche cannot hang on hanging demands. Let the justice system works and the youth realize the consequence of destruction of the system. It takes many years to build institution and it takes minutes and hours to destroy them.

: Jumana Sarwar

Dear Bengali Brothers;

Removing Rajakar from the land is a starting process of purifying Bangladesh.

It is our moral and ethical responsibility to support all good deeds happening all over the world and make it a better place to live.

Please do not learn Islam from Rajakar.

Regards;

Bengali Well Wisher

: Babu

Comments

  • sirajul islam chowdhury
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 08:12 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    The Nation is being free from the great sin,which had been committed four decades before. Now the sinners are getting their real prize by death penalty.

  • Bazlur Rahman
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 09:30 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Let us build Razaker free Bangladesh

  • S K
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:50 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    The colourful and zealous crowd at Shahbagh including the whole DU campus have shown unprecedented style of protest in the rejuvenated spirit of spring so as to press home their demand of capital punishment to all war criminals of 1971. The demonstration is an exquisite blend of love, rage and vigour making a unified platform for the whole nation amid chanting 'Joy Banlga' slogan which was chanted by all the freedom fighters including all freedom-loving Bangalees in 1971. A vested quarter has started voicing against this irreplaceable slogan in fear of existence in the political race posing threat to the newly built national unity initiated by the youths of Shahbagh Chattor. This unity is to be maintained at any cost. There is no alternative to marching forward being united in the spirit of our liberation war. Let this unity remain for ever. This united force led by mass people will be able to move forward in the path of development defying all anti-liberation forces including Jamaat-Shibir and their cohorts.

  • Citizen Kane
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 04:25 PM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    So much Passion! So much love for our country!!! this is what we have always hoped and prayed for!!! that the general people will wake up against injustice and evil and corruption!!! So why stop by JUST asking for death of razakars!!! this is a great and unique platform for Bangladeshi youths to want justice for all forms of corruption and injustice !!! what is this theory and logic of 'No math test while giving English exams'??? will killing of a few vile men make our lives better? Will it change the life of the man on the street? Will it stop blatant corruption of politicians? Will it stop dirty student politics and their violence and killing? Will it stop killing of our citizens by India BSF? no, No and NO!!! If this is truly the voice of the nation then ask for it all!! Demand it!!!! Do not be afraid...if we stand united, then no once can stop this revolution!

  • Masudur Rahman
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 04:42 PM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Very inspiring- the spirit of these young progressive forces is source of love for democratic values for which we all, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or ideological differences, fought to achieve in Bangladesh. This must be a warning to the heinous motives of those who misuse religion aimed at destruction of democratic values including secularism. I wish I was there and share the joy of being a part of the young spirit.

  • Syed Badrul Ahsan
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 01:27 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Back in 1971, people of my generation were young and fired with the urge for liberty. Today, our children and young generation fired by patriotic zeal, preserve liberty. You do us proud. You have caused a renewal of the spirit. And we salute you. Do not give up. Do not let traitors and history deniers molest our land and our heritage again!

  • Mahbub Rahman
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 01:14 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    I fully support people of Bangladesh who are directly or indirectly protesting at Shahbagh and elsewhere in the country demanding justice. Most of the rajakars are Muslims by name but their action do not reflect Islam any way. All razakars deserve to be punished in court of law and their punishment should be no less than hanging by death. They should not be allowed to breath in Bangladesh. Wealth of all rajakars should be used to pay the War Tribunal cost. Why citizen of Bangladesh pay any money to keep any rajakars in jails.

    Supporters of rajakars are trying to hide behind Islam. They have nothing to do with Islam. Their action during our Liberation War were not Islamic. So, let us be very clear that this demand for justice is not non-Islamic.

  • Sengupta, Canada
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:16 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Anger against brutality, zeal for revenge - call it spring!

  • Soikat
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:32 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Realising Bangladesh...

  • Faisal
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:48 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    We all demand death penalty to Quadar Mollah...

  • md russell talukder
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 01:48 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    The colour of spring, the joining of house wives, the slogans of the teens, the protest of the youth and the aged -everyone sways with one slogan and is sprouting in the new spirit of unity, solidarity and patriotism. But amidst this genesis, a vested quarter has emerged as partisan mongers to divide and destroy the entire nation. The people in the movement want war criminals to be hanged to death. But these partisan mongers want to divide the nation by adding a demand of banning faith-based politics. They want the land of Bangladesh to be reddened with blood of their own brothers and countrymen. History repeats. If they do not step back from what they are trying to do, they will be tried in days to come in the same way by the rest of the house wives, teens, youth and the aged who think their faith is as important as their life and freedom. These partisan mongers will be tried in tomorrow's Bangladesh for dividing the nation and instigating from behind the curtail an unjust war.

  • sumon
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 02:18 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Extra ordinary! Anyone can see the passion in her face. let the politicians of Bangladesh wake up!

  • Roni Rahman
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:50 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    The media seems to be riding herd on this movement and forgetting its duty and check-and-balance role in cautioning the government and drawing the fine line of fascism and McCarthyism that can be crossed in the hype of super nationalism.

  • Mohammed Shah Alam Khan from Ottawa
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 02:38 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    I think it is my obligation as a freedom fighter to show my whole hearted support with the youth at Projonmo Chattar by lighting the candle same time they are doing which is at 8:00am on Thursday at my resident in Ottawa, Canada with my wife. My daughter already visited to show her support in this movement who is now visiting Dhaka. I am praying to Allah for the success of the youth. Joy Bangla. Banglar Joy.

  • Md Raisul Islam Rois
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 03:42 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    I appreciate that law enforcement agency more active about our protection. Thanks to MKA, IGP, DMP commissioner and all related law enforcement members. I also like to thank all media persons for 24hr cover us.

  • neutral
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 04:32 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    Wonderful, wonderful picture to watch every day from Shahbagh square, a strong page of history by itself which can not be erased by any force against the cultural and political heritage of Bangladesh.

  • nuton
    Thursday, February 14, 2013 05:43 AM GMT+06:00 (96 weeks ago)

    I love to see the Shahbagh mass movement’s colorful enthusiasm of our siblings.


 

 


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