» 02/15/2013, 00.00
Shahbagh, Bangladesh's 'Tahrir Square', against war crimes
Sumon Francis Gomes
Hundreds of thousands of people in Dhaka want the death penalty for members of the Islamic party involved in massacres, torture and rape during the War of Independence (1971). Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami supporters wreck havoc in the city.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - For
the past ten days, hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated against the
Jamaat-e-Islami party for war
crimes committed by its members dating
back to 1971. Last night, men and women of every age and social background held
a vigil in memory of the victims of the conflict in Shahbagh, a Dhaka
neighbourhood dubbed by many as Bangladesh's 'Tahrir Square' because never
before has civil society expressed so clearly its opposition to what happened
during the war of liberation.
The movement began online with bloggers and activists after Abdul Quader Mollah, a Jamaat-e-Islami leader, was sentenced to life in prison for his
role in rapes, killings and torture during the war that led to Bangladesh's
independence from Pakistan. Quickly, the movement turned into mass protest after
Shahbagh was invaded after 5 February by people calling for the death penalty
for Mollah and other leaders.
According to Dipti Das, a former student at Dhaka
University and a member of the movement, "the nation cannot forget these
To make their protest
more effective, demonstrators have begun boycotting all commercial activities,
offices, banks and cultural circles associated with Jamaat-e-Islami.
continue with supporters of the Islamist party, which has challenged the court's
decisions on Jamaat's role in the war. On a regular basis, party
militants engage in hartal (strikes)
that often degenerate in violent incidents with police. In the latest case on
Wednesday, one person was killed.
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