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Monday, February 18, 2013
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Cheers from Shahbagh

Youths react to law amendments; urge all to defy Jamaat's hartal today

Expressing solidarity with the Shahbagh movement, students render the national anthem after hoisting the flag at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College in Dhaka yesterday morning. Photo:Anisur Rahman

The unyielding Shahbagh protesters have called upon people to resist today's countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Jamaat-e-Islami by carrying out their routine duties.

They urged students and teachers to attend classes in all educational institutions, businessmen to keep their shops open, transport owners to bring their vehicles out on the streets and workers to go about their daily work in their collective efforts to defy Jamaat.

Already, different bus operators, businesses, educational institutions and political organisations have responded to the call and vowed to brave the shutdown.

"All educational institutions will remain open tomorrow [today]," Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid told Ekattur television yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Shahbagh movement yesterday celebrated the fulfilment of its first and foremost demand -- amendment to the International Crimes Tribunal law.

The victory could not have come at a more appropriate moment for the protesters, who stood resolute at Shahbagh, defying the menacing clouds, biting cold and a light drizzle.

The crowd broke into exuberant cheers as they heard the news of the amendment empowering the war crimes tribunals to try organisations for complicity in crimes against humanity in 1971.

The amendment will also allow the victims and the government to appeal against any verdict given by the tribunals.

Demonstrators chanted “Joy Bangla” with more vigour and conviction yesterday, danced in the rain, distributed sweetmeats in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and congratulated each other on their victory.

They also vowed not to lose sight of their ultimate goal and to keep occupying the Shahbagh intersection till their six-point demand was met.

The demands include capital punishment to all war criminals, banning Jamaat-Shibir and revoking the state power to grant clemency to any convict.

Imran H Sarkar, one of the key organisers of the movement, announced the news of the passage of the law to the crowd and hailed it as the first achievement of the movement.

"We'll continue our protests until our six-point demand is met," he later told The Daily Star.

The general public, for the most part, were content at the swift amendment and hoped that the law would be accordingly enforced.

"I'm only partially happy, because having a very tough law is just not enough. Seeing the criminal organisation tried in a court of law will make me happy," said Paban Sarkar, a computer science graduate.

“The amendment has been brought about by the protests at Shahbagh. Now it remains to be seen how quickly the laws are enforced,” said Piplu Adhikary, who works at a private company.

At the protest venue, demonstrations in fiery slogans continued for the 13th consecutive day amid the first rain of the year. At 10:00am, protesters hoisted the national flag and sang the national anthem.

Students and teachers in schools, colleges and universities across the country sang the national anthem in unison and hoisted the national flag to express solidarity.

Dhaka University students and teachers, including its Vice-chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, also joined the countrywide programme, singing the national anthem at 10:00am at the foot of Aparajeyo Bangla in front of the Arts Faculty.

After hoisting the national flag, Imran H Sarkar, convener of the Bloggers and Online Activists Network, urged all to resist Jamaat's hartal. "We all will continue our regular activities tomorrow [today]."

The protesters also called upon the media houses not to publish or broadcast any advertisements of Jamaat-linked institutions. They also urged people to wear black badges during the hartal hours and hoist black flags in memory of slain blogger and activist Ahmed Rajib Haidar.

"Jamaat er hartal, Shahbagh manena. Sombarer hartal, Shahbagh manena" (Shahbagh rejects Jamaat's hartal. Shahbagh rejects Monday's hartal).

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Shop Owners Association at a meeting yesterday decided to reject the hartal, and urged all the shop owners to keep their businesses open.

Bangladesh Transport Owners Association has also decided to operate passenger vehicles -- both in the city and on the long routes.

Dhaka University authorities, too, rejected the shutdown and decided to hold classes and examinations as usual.

Rashed Khan Menon, president of Workers Party of Bangladesh, at a meeting yesterday called upon all to build a resistance at every locality against hartal and violent activities of Jamaat and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir.

Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Samity, an association of bus owners, said it would maintain bus service throughout the country.

Besides, the association has decided to cancel membership of two bus companies, as owners of the companies are linked to Jamaat-e-Islami, said Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the association.

"Investigation into another bus company is underway. If we can find its link with Jamaat, we will cancel its membership too," he added.

Later in the evening, at least 70 lawmakers, including Whip ASM Feroz, joined the demonstration. They went to the protest venue around 9:20pm and stayed for around 20 minutes, said Bappadittya Bashu, an organiser of the movement that began on February 5, demanding death penalty to all war criminals.

State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Capt (retd) AB Tajul Islam, State Minister for Housing and Public Works Abdul Mannan Khan and lawmaker Junaid Ahmed Polok spoke there and expressed their solidarity with the demonstrators.

Earlier in the day, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Musicians Alliance, Gonoforum, Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, among others, expressed solidarity.

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These bloggers are 100% Awami Leaguers. Except Rajakars themselves, whole nation always wanted the hanging of rajakars, why Awami League is trying to teach us war crimes trial now that the whole nation always wanted long before? The nation wanted this trial in 1973 but Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spared them. If these bloggers are not Awami Leaguers then where these bloggers were when innocent Megh cried for justice for their parents’ (Sagar-Runi) murder? Why these bloggers are not asking for death penalty for all collaborators of rajakars? Sheikh Hasina also collaborated with Jamat, where were these bloggers then? Why these bloggers are also not asking for prosecution and death penalty for Sheikh Hasina for once supporting Jamat? Ask these questions to yourself, you will get answer. You do not have to be very smart to understand this. Sheikh Hasina is trying to divert peoples’ attention from all the corruption her party had done, the murders that had been committed during her regime and to dampen the issue of caretaker government. In the bargain, she is turning a peaceful nation in to a situation like that of Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq.

She has taken the revenge of her father’s murder; she has settled her son, daughter and sister in a foreign country and had transferred enough money for them. Does she need to care about this nation’s future any more? Her mission is accomplished isn’t it? Does she need to care about the brutal murder of this young architect Rajib (blogger)? How the bloggers are so sure that the murder was committed by Jamat or Shibir even before the investigation has started? Awami League is rather en-cashing the death of this young soul. Irrespective of party affiliations, my request to the politicians, please fear Allah, establish justice as all of us will have to stand before Allah. May Allah bless this nation.

: Rashid Ahmed

This is very good news for the nation that finally whole nation stand against Hartal. I would like to thanks to the bloggers means our sons to achieve a glorious demand that is resist hartal. Today we are resisting Jamaat Shibir tomorrow we will resist other party from hartal. The nation will always remember these boys for their achievement to resist hartal. I always saying that Allah is besides these boys, they may not follow the whole rules of Islam but they are on right path so that Allah is helping them to get success.

: Mohammed Shah Alam Khan from Ottawa


  • Labu Khan
    Monday, February 18, 2013 04:10 AM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    I think it is time for the Shahbagh protests to end because of the inconvenience it is causing to the common people in and around Shahbagh area.The nation has given and shown their full support to the protesters of the war crimes trial and so it is now time to move ahead with normal business. We do not want to see any more killings or any other unforeseen incidents related to the Shahbagh protests.

  • sujon
    Monday, February 18, 2013 04:33 AM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    Hang all Jamaati and Awami terrorists together, then only Bangladesh will get real freedom.

  • Asad Zaman
    Monday, February 18, 2013 09:47 AM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    What an impressive picture of the huge number of Bangladeshi school girls standing in lines of discipline behind their beautiful Bangladesh flag. Thanks to the Daily Star for this brilliant photograph. Thanks to all the school kids nationwide and members of all the diverse organizations and entities listed in this article for their quick response to a cause that has united the whole nation under their national flag. Congratulations to all.

  • Farooq Karachi
    Monday, February 18, 2013 10:31 AM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    Hats off to you all. Stay strong, stay brave. Wish and hope this was happening in Pakistan.

  • Voter
    Monday, February 18, 2013 10:34 AM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    The verdict has been rejected by two rival groups. Everybody should respect court verdict. Yet, if protests are allowed as a democratic practice, both the groups should be given equal opportunity to express their grievances. But the ruling Awami League Government is protecting one group while repressing the other. Neither Shahbag event nor the hartals represent the real public opinion. Real public opinion may be reflected in the next general election. The present government seems to be too weak to face the opposition. May be that is why they are backing a particular group and repressing the other.

  • Faisal
    Monday, February 18, 2013 01:39 PM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    Few observations:

    1) Shahbag movement is not a fight for any political party, it is a fight for a cause. I hope and pray that the Shahbag movement, once having achieved its current goal, will shift gear towards other issues that have held back the rise of this nation for far too long.

    2) Now is the one and only real chance that exists to eliminate Jamaat for good. Govt should take up this opportunity to do just that, as it will get people’s whole-hearted support, and Jamaat’s any response at this moment will be weak at best.

    3) In this moment of history-making, BNP is either with Jamaat or against Jamaat. Thus, BNP is either with the people of this nation, or against the people of this nation. There is no third option. The longer BNP appears to be acting confused, the longer it is showing that it is pro-Jamaat and anti-people.

    4) I wonder why I still have Diganta channel appearing in my TV. I question the cable operators in Dhaka about their small contribution in this history-making. I have brought out my car today to defy hartal and show my solidarity with Shahbag movement in my own small way. A windshield may get broken, but that can be financially addressed. I believe every citizen can make his/her small contribution from within his/her daily life.

  • Litton
    Monday, February 18, 2013 01:41 PM GMT+06:00 (155 weeks ago)

    No matter what, we must always have great honor for our freedom fighters and must have great love for our motherland. In order to fight all evils of this country, we must always stand firm and support our younger generations.





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