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    » 02/15/2013, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    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 criminals."

    To make their protest more effective, demonstrators have begun boycotting all commercial activities, offices, banks and cultural circles associated with Jamaat-e-Islami.

    Meanwhile, clashes 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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    See also

    26/02/2013 BANGLADESH
    Thousands of people rally against Islamic party and the political use of religion
    People of different origins and social backgrounds rally together, reading passages from the sacred texts of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami supporters continue their rampage, accusing peaceful demonstrators of blasphemy.

    01/03/2013 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh: dozens killed in clashes between Islamists and police
    The violence erupted after the sentencing to death of a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party), accused of war crimes in 1971. More than 800 injured. Among the victims, three policemen. Explosions in several neighborhoods of the capital, temples and houses burnt the Hindu community in the southeast. The Islamic religious authority in the country calls for calm.

    24/04/2006 BANGLADESH
    About 150 people injured in anti-government protests
    In four days, two general strikes hit the capital as police and demonstrators clash. Opposition parties are leading the protest movement demanding reforms in anticipation of next year's elections. Analysts tell AsiaNews that an agreement between the two sides will be difficult to reach and times ahead will be hard.

    09/07/2013 BANGLADESH
    Islamist party gains on the coattails of Bangladesh Nationalist Party's victory
    The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party sweeps the latest municipal elections thanks to the support of the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose anti-atheist propaganda against the ruling Awami League proves crucial.

    12/06/2006 BANGLADESH
    Opposition "besieges" Dhaka, more than 500 people hurt
    Opposition parties take to the streets demanding new electoral law and expulsion of Islamic fundamentalists from government, threatening to boycott upcoming elections. Prime Minister orders preventive arrests and deploys 18,000 policemen and paramilitary forces.



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