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Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Thousands join Shahbagh sit-in

Demand capital punishment for Quader Mollah; protests spread across country

Thousands take position at the capital's Shahbagh intersection for a second day yesterday demanding capital punishment for Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah. Protestors, who include teachers, students, politicians and cultural activists, vowed to continue the movement until their demand is met. Inset, people march in procession to the Shahbagh demonstration. Photo: Rashed Shumon

Forty-two years after the Liberation War, sentiments of liberation were rekindled as thousands yesterday refused to leave the street and go home until their demand for capital punishment for war criminals were met.

The spontaneous agitation began on Tuesday afternoon shortly after a tribunal gave life sentence to Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, and continued throughout the night. The occupation of Shahbagh intersection, initiated by bloggers and activist network went on all day yesterday, with the number of people escalating as the day wore on.

The spirit of the protest spread to other parts of the country, with sit-ins and demonstrations taking place in Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sunamganj, Barisal, Rajbari, Noakhali and Narsingdi.

In the capital's Shahbagh, different political parties and their student wings joined the rally that began as a people's movement. The parties include the ruling Awami League, Workers' Party of Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) and Ganotantrik Bam Morcha.

However, nobody from the main opposition BNP and its student wing, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, was seen in the rally.

The spirit in Shahbagh was infectious as people broke out in chants of “Tui Razakar” (you're a war criminal) and sang gono shongeet (mass song) in unison.

Art college students painted murals and caricatures of the known war criminals while others made effigies with papers and card boards and hung them from the nearby poles. There was even a life-size game of “Razakar ludu” -- a game of snakes and ladders with the war criminals as the main players.

Street plays and dances lent the event a festive air, without lessening the gravity of the protestors' demand. Candle light vigils and torch processions continued throughout the evening.

“One can't help but feel alive after being here for a few minutes,” said Mohaimmen Kabir, a writer, adding that he hadn't seen such a spirit since the movement against Ershad's autocratic regime in the 1990s.

“It gives me hope to see the youth carry on the fight that we started 43 years ago,” said Nazir Ahmed, a freedom fighter.

Many people from Ahmed's generation echoed his view, saying they were impressed to see the passion and dedication of the youth.

Saying that he had lost hope seeing the war criminals enjoy state power over the past decade, Saiyed Ahmed, another freedom fighter, said: “But now, once again we can collectively fight against our nation's enemies, and our young generations will lead the fight."

Many joined the demonstration after seeing and hearing the news in the media, while others had been attending the demonstration on and off since it began.

“We will stay here till our demand is met,” exclaimed Viqarunnisa student Fairuz Ashraf.

Others around her echoed her sentiment.

Prominent political and cultural personalities gave speeches throughout the day, motivating the crowds.

“The verdict does not fulfill Awami League's demand,” Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud said at the rally.

He, however, dismissed reports of a mutual understanding between the government and Jamaat.

CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim said, “When the Pakistani army surrendered on December 16 [of 1971], they agreed formally to withdraw their camps, soldiers and associates from this country.”

Therefore, Jamaat should not be able to function in independent Bangladesh, he argued.

Eminent dramatist and freedom fighter Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu said, “I think the centre of the movement has been shifted to the young generation from the freedom fighters.”

Information Commissioner Sadeka Halim rejected the verdict and said she had been driven to the demonstration by her consciousness.

JSD leader Shirin Akhter said people must continue their movement on the streets.

Ministers Shahjahan Khan and Dilip Barua, worker's party president Rashed Khan Menon and its General Secretary Anisur Rahman Mollik, JSD President Hasanul Haque Inu, eminent historian Muntassir Mamoon, sculptor and survivor of the 1971 war crimes Ferdousy Priyobhashini, Jahangirnagar University Vice-chancellor Anwar Hossain, barrister Amir-Ul Islam, singer Mita Haq, AL leaders Nooh-Ul-Alam Lenin and Abdus Sobhan Golap, among others, joined the rally.

Organisers announced the movement would continue today and there would be a grand rally tomorrow. They invited student and youth organisations from all parts of the country to join the event.

"Slogan 71," a pro-liberation organisation formed by a group of Dhaka University students, supplied drinking water among the demonstrators.

When several thousand people joined the Shahbagh demo, members of another pro-liberation organisation "Brittanto 71" were seen patrolling the city streets on a pickup to drum up public support in favour of the demand for death sentence for Quader Mollah.

AL UNHAPPY

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the AL high command has directed the party rank and file and all of its associated and like-minded bodies to stage demonstrations across the country to mobilise public support in favour of the war crimes trial.

Accordingly, central party leaders yesterday directed its 73 organisational district units to take to the streets.

“We have directed all our district unit leaders to stage demonstration in favour of the war crimes trial and capital punishment for the war criminals,” AL Organising Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim told The Daily Star yesterday.

The verdict that gave life sentence to Quader Mollah did not reflect people's expectations, he said replying to a query.

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We should be careful here not to fall into the lynching-by-mob or rule-by-mob mentality. If we are to assume that the verdict was wrong, then the court was either incompetent or influenced by govt or events on. Either way the court or AL is in bad spot and they need to answer. AL is in the bad spot because they have failed to construct an impartial competent court and failed by interfering and influencing the court. The BNP and Jamaat are in no position to influence the court for them to be blamed for this.

: Roni Rahman

How funny! Justice has to be ruled on popular demand in Bangladesh. Some demanding capital punishment and some others demands no-punishment. Who are majority? What the Judges will do now on? Where we are heading to? Where Sheikh Hasina is leading the country? How a popular, elected govt can allow these to happen?

: Vampire knight

Comments

  • shuel salique London
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:41 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Wish I was there seeing the demos against war criminal it make us proud today to unite against evil enemy of our beloved Bangladesh. United we stand divide we fall. We will never forget 71. All sisters suffering mothers crying and freedom fighters with Allah's blessing gave birth to new nation we will always be in debt. May Allah be always with Bangladesh. Long live Bangladesh.

  • hindsight
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:49 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Question to the Nations conscience: Why do we not stage candle-lit vigils and sit-ins when Biswajit got murdered in daylight? Why do our patriotic people not bring out processions and chant slogans of 'TUI RAJAKAR' when our honourable PM protects his ministers (communications minister) when he is all but guilty of corruption in the Padma Bridge project?

  • Reaz Hassan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:18 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    The gathering looks grand and peaceful but without accredited leaders, plans and programs. Infiltration of ill motivated elements cannot be ruled out. Installation of CCTV and beefing up security of this important interjection appear crucial before next Friday's mass gathering.

  • Syed Badrul Ahsan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:29 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    The spirit of Joi Bangla prevails! Our joy is in knowing that our young people, descendants of the war generation, are today out there to uphold the truth as it first manifested itself in 1971. Bangladesh is our pride. Our children are our hope. And as these thousands of Bengalis have shown in this month of Ekushey, our self-esteem as a nation remains firm, unbroken and substantive. We will endure and we will prevail!

  • neutral
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:37 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    A news one can read with tears in eyes with joy, a befitting spontaneous reaction of the people against the on going political march past by the Islamist parties and fanaticism by the Jamaat killers in disguise, is the best known people's action in this most remember able month of the history- February. This action of the people can only be compared with that of Bangladesh's historic days like February 21, March7, December 16 and March 26th. The people are never a looser, they always win and they will win this time also. It is indeed a befitting demonstration against all types of civil disorders including hartal, road march etc. It is indeed a no confidence against politics of religion and politics with third power. The responsibility of the government has been further pressurized not to deviate from the right course of action even if the highest threat comes from any quarters including the killers of millions and intellectuals during war of liberation. It is an acid test for the government to use the power of the people to go ahead with the trail of war criminals and ensure the security of the tribunal judges to award capital punishment where applicable without fear or favour. Congratulation for appropriate, peaceful people's action and determination to see through the trail of the war criminals with due punishment to the killers.

  • analogym
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:57 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Go on brothers. Block the roads. Close every door. Sealed the airport. Break the bridge. Stop him, grab him and take him to be hanged in the memory of our freedom fighters.

  • Md Raisul Islam Rois
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 03:26 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    People must continue their movement on the streets.

  • Dr. A.N. Khan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 03:39 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    We want to see a true history written and martyrs be honored. Political parties/governments have been disgracing the great martyrs & sufferers of our liberation war by not printing their names in golden alphabets in the country’s history. Is it too difficult to do? Alas! Civil societies, journalists, historians and researchers are either engaged in repeating or proving unsupported emotionally declared data/figure or remaining aloof in fear of …………………...Consequently, court’s neutrality is under question, the truth is suffering and myth is prevailing. Doubts and suspicion are spreading and peoples are getting more divided day after day. The nation cannot afford more trading or Goebbelism on this issue. We need courageous people, not politically biased, to explore the true information that would disclose facts & figures on killing (listing names), raping, setting fire, torturing, structural & other collateral damages, refuges, etc. with true evidences. We want a list of war criminals, local collaborators and also an unbiased analysis/assessment/evaluation of the role of the then active politicians.

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 03:40 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Playing with fire has some consequence and surely it would hunt and burn everybody as it hurt others in different times.1939, Nazi Germany, Hitler is the most popular German leader; 1945, Germany divided, begging the world for its own survival. When incompatible elements such as hare say evidences, incredible accusation of killing 300 people in one session with one rifle and the guilt proof are put together, there will be criticism against the verdict and that’s ok as long it does not destroy the system for whom the protesters are fighting for. When the dust settles and logic triumph over emotion, the people will see the greatest victim of this verdict is the judges themselves as they could not stand for what they are pledge bound.

  • Kazi Salim
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 04:48 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Congratulations to the organizers for organizing these historic protest gatherings against the verdict of Qader Razaker. Go Ahead, the entire nation other than some of the black sheep of 1971 are with you and will join you and continue until all these classified notorious Razakers-Albadors- Pakistani collaborators, killers, thugs are hanged and get rid of the black stigmas, placed since 1971 on the foreheads of the great Bangalees of our great beloved country, Bangladesh.

  • Mortuza Huq
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 05:01 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    In this incident I admire BNP for not joining this rally for two reasons. 1. Showing respect to the court verdict 2. Showing allegiance to the norms of the civilised societies like Europe where the maximum punishment for any crime is life term prison sentence.

  • abdul
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 05:37 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    At last people's conscious have awaken -- specially the youths -- I support the movement from Sydney -- May Allah give the countries youth the strength to continue the movement.

  • S A Bhuiyan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 05:45 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    I must wonder and lament how many, I doubt a single soul, in the crowd, is intelligent and conscientious enough to realize that all these prosecution and persecution in the name of ICT is just a very dangerous farce and a political gamble. This is a demonstration of mass reflex, not manifestation of any humanitarian and moral values that the country needs in spheres of national life for the real and lasting salvation of its people. Why don`t we see similar expression of ``moral outrage`` or organized mass reflex, as in this instance of Quader Mollah, caused by so many other ills plaguing the country, for which the government and the ruling party, whichever is in power, is singularly responsible, such as thousands of murders, rapes, disappearances, that are taking place right now. What has been organized in Shahbagh is obscene entertainment and a glaring spectacle of decadence and moral bankruptcy which is the direct result of a rising promiscuous culture corrupting the impressionable youth of the country (reminding one of a a very prescient statement that goes ``what can you say of a society that says that God is dead, but Elvis is alive``). These gullible youths will soon realize that The soil of Bangladesh is too hallowed for these incorrigible and filthy degenerated secularists - who are corrupting them - to gain anything other than their 15 minutes`fame and hallucinations.Bangladesh is slowly but surely gravitating towards the righteous hands of Islamists, as it is becoming evident the Arab Spring will morph into Islamic Spring in our own lifetime Insha Allah. S A Bhuiyan, North America

  • a garment worker
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:14 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Thousands of people comprised of whom? AL , BCL and other left leaning activists are enough to make such a crowd. Don't ask me to believe peoples thronging in Shahbagh do not have political identity. It is misleading to say the least. Like in all other issues peoples of Bangladesh are divided in here too.

  • James Peris
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:26 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Great Bangladesh.

  • Truth Teller
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:30 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    People should also strength and demonstrate like this against bad governance, corruption by ministers and politicians, autocracy, dynastic politics, etc., etc. by all political parties including the current Awami League government.

  • a garment worker
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:33 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    You talk about teachers? Who are they? What's their color? Blue or white or of some outlandish color? You get it right. These teachers have particular color I am sure. Same goes with others of the crowd who are out to see their political goal fulfilled. Common people that are we are have little time to stay whole night up and entertain them with singing poetry, and all sort of things like this. As I am writing this comment I am sitting in the bus because I am to attend my factory. Where is my leisure of luxury to spend sleepless night and do sit-in?

  • Sanjoy Barua Chowdhury
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 06:42 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    It's a perfect time for wake up for every Bengali people; the procession has been continuing as long as we will have not gain a perfect verdict from Crime Tribunal. Hats off to this young generation ! Yes, we will win soon !

  • Misbah Uddin Sumon
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 07:15 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Why one Quader Mollah equals to thousands of protestors? These general people took place at Shahbagh to give death penalty of Quader Mollah. If five of six acquisitions are proved against Quader Mollah then his verdict should be capital punishment, otherwise acquittal. So why life-term imprisonment is awarded? We could not understand this verdict. After 42 years of war crime we stand at the marginal point to see the fair and well accepted verdict of War Crime Trial. We don’t want to see any type of conspiracy in case of War Crime Trial.

  • khaled Mohammad
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 07:32 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    I wonder who are these people oppose the court's judgement? When w Hidu teacher rape a Muslim student in a so called Muslim country, these people remained silent. When a political motivated case without eye witness for a crime 40 years ago is facing capital punishment? I believe divine curse is imminent in Bangladesh.

  • BAL Supporter
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:00 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Very good thing you bring to book the killers what about the killer of Biswajit Das. Why is not the Govt. and the so called pagla ghora (chattra dal) acting on the saying 'shontrashi j doler ( leaguer) hok na keno take shasti hobe??' Why not procession for him? He is not political leader and bringing his killer to book is not going to do any good to the ruling party so the PM stays shut. For the sake of the country people like Hasina and her henchmen must be removed from power. The sooner the better.

  • nazrul
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:03 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    The tragedy of the modern world is not the strident clamor of bad people but appalling silence of good people. Sahabag has broken that silence. Salute to young generation.

  • Rahman Jewel
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:10 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    What is the benifite of staying at Shahbagh in Dhaka? The verdicts have been declared by ICT. There is a chance to retry in appellate division. Demonstrating in street against the verdicts is an unconstitutional. Crime of a guilty person has been imposed on another.

  • Ashraf Ahmed
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:13 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    I don't know how callous we could be to arrange a meeting blocking the roads of some major hospitals of our country. The gathering could be a spontaneous one but the place selection was absolutely nonsense.

  • Sabir Majumder
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:51 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    I am impressed and inspired by the mass and youth participation in this peaceful public rally in capital Dhaka. Let those Rajakars be brought to justice. It does not matter if it takes 42 years or 84 years.

  • Anonymous
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:59 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    The whole lot of Jamaat-i-Eslami should be hanged for trying to establish Shariah in Bangladesh.

  • Harun Rashid
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:59 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    It is very impressive. It should always like this when it comes against Razakars. But unfortunately we lost our strength as a nation after killing of Bangabandhu. Now our prides are young. They are singing the national anthem, people of all corners regaining their hope to fight our common enemies. How we can expect BNP or its associate organization might join this main stream when they gave our high priced, the symbol of liberation war Flags to the Razakars. Indeed just keep going millions of Bangalee just on to join this wave.

  • Md. Ismile
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 09:24 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Are we seeing the emergence of a patriotic movement which will take shape of a new political identity to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the common masses 'JonoSadharan'! Is this the answer to decades of deceit and betrayal by the mainstream political parties?

  • Saifur Rahman Bhuiiyan
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 09:44 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Sometime I think we are back-boneless nation. Nobody can protest against any dispute. But now I can realize I was wrong. Our new generation can do. That's great. Please salute them.

  • Rabbi
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 09:58 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    Don't let politicians snatch away the spirit.

  • Mohammad Jasim
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:26 AM GMT+06:00 (112 weeks ago)

    This demo remind us what happened in Egypt and other Arabic nations which made the dictator step down from the power whereas we the mass people here are demanding justice against a trifle section of the people who perpetrated genocide, rape and so on in 1971.So victory will be ours.

  • Rezaul Islam
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:58 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    I want ''Capital Punishment'' for Quader Mollah and others RAZAKERs.

  • Nasirullah Mridha,USA
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:58 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Verdict of Kader Molla life term seemingly pour the cold water on pro-liberation minded people.They expected the capital punishment.Everyone anger turned up the heat to the ICT but the prosecution tenuous argument and anaemic witness led the ICT to administer this verdict.The attorney general office can't shun their responsibility for their dissemble effort to send the Molla in gallows.We are not ruling out the possibility of AL alliance with JAMAT in next election in quid pro quo of Molla's light punishment.

  • Giasuddin
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:21 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Thank you so much for yours' demand of death sentence of Kader Molla, the notorious rajakar. Not only the people of Bangladesh but also the democratic and secular people of the world are with you . Go ahead. You must win the battle . Thank you again.

  • rch
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:34 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    AL and BNP are both worried because they do not want Tahrir Square type revolution. People should demand justice and punishment for both Paki & Indian Rajakars.

  • nds
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:44 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Had this public outrage against the war criminals been got expressed in such clear and unambiguous manner much earlier the reactionary forces opposing the trial could not have gathered strength and courage to attempt foiling the trial process .

  • Dulal
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 11:59 AM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Hang the Kader Mollah and we want it.

  • S K
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:42 PM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Let the spontaneous public uproar be the weapon of the Liberation War of 1971 so as to realize the demand of capital punishment for the convicted war criminal Abdul Quader Molla.

  • Hafeejul Alam
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:06 PM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    In view of the massive protest against the lighter verdict on Abdul Quader Molla throught the country, we hope that the government will feel the pulse of the people and ensure a congenial atmosphere where the judges will not be under any pressure and the people at large will not feel insecure. So far, the government machinery has miserably failed to contain vandalism by a few hundred Jamat-shibir thugs. This is the plain truth

  • Sunila Shah
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 02:25 PM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh is turning into a lynch mob. Evil cannot be countered with evil.

  • Monjurul
    Thursday, February 7, 2013 04:35 PM GMT+06:00 (111 weeks ago)

    Yes, Go ahead and raise voice against corruption, price hike,unemployment,share bazar scam,Hallmark scam, Destiny scam and all other burning issues. This is a drama to divert peoples attention. Police helping them by blocking all roads bringing suffering to thousands of people in and around, particularly hospitals there. Partisan Media are also making a hype to this. Shame!


 

 


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