No politics, please

Youths at Shahbagh sit-in want people to speak up at today’s rally for death of war criminal Quader Mollah

The crowd at Chittagong Press Club at a sit-in demand death penalty for Jamaat leader Abdul Quadr Mollah for his crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberatiuon War. Inset, a protester is having a slogan written on the forehead. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das
The crowd at Chittagong Press Club at a sit-in demand death penalty for Jamaat leader Abdul Quadr Mollah for his crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberatiuon War. Inset, a protester is having a slogan written on the forehead. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

Amid concerns that the Shahbagh movement spearheaded by the youths is being coopted by some political parties, the organisers have decided not to allow political leaders to address the gatherings including today’s grand rally.

Rather, they have called upon the ordinary citizens, online activists and bloggers to deliver speeches.

Many voiced discontent when ruling Awami League leaders attempted to give speeches yesterday. Some demonstrators even hurled bottles at AL leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif as soon as he started his speech around 5:30pm.

The people’s movement, which began on Tuesday shortly after the International Crimes Tribunal-2 awarded life sentence to notorious war criminal Quader Mollah, was going on in full swing.

Thousands once again demanded the capital punishment for Quader.

People also demonstrated in Gopalganj, Khulna, Pabna, Bogra, Narsingdi, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Jessore, Satkhira, Feni, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Chittagong.

The presence of AL-BCL men was noticeable at Shahbagh yesterday. The BCL president came under criticism when he wanted to address the demonstration, witnesses said.

Some youths, thought to be aligned to the Left, also chanted slogans against state minister for power Enamul Haque and Petrobangla Chairman Hossain Mansur who went to express solidarity around noon.

Milon Pathan, an activist of the Bloggers and Online Activists Network, said they have requested all not to be discontinuous to anybody on personal considerations.

Throughout the day, anti-war criminal chants, patriotic and protest songs, motivational speeches, street plays and street art continued in the intersection.

A key point in the capital, Shahbagh adjoining Dhaka University, National Museum, Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar and Bangla Academy has historical significance for its link with the birth of the nation and the people’s struggle.

Demonstrators showed innovation in portraying their outrage, transforming their bodies into banners, paper and waste products into effigies, wooden sticks into a symbolic cage and the streets into canvases.

The volunteers spent the night at the ground, almost being converted into a commune sharing food, discussing and exhibiting films.

The demonstration in the morning picked up as students from different schools and colleges, including Buet, Jagannath University, Eden College, Dhaka College and Ideal College and City College poured in.

By evening, the crowd spilled far beyond the intersection.

An artist Prashanto Karmokar Bouddho collected signatures on a sheet sized 27 feet by 3 feet and Muktijoddha Sangsad Command on a huge piece of white cloth demanding the death sentence to Quader Mollah.

Syed Shahidul Haque Mama, a freedom fighter and the second prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Quader Mollah, was present among many war veterans.

“They gave life sentence based on my testimony, which was not at all expected,” he said, adding that he had come all the way from Sweden only for justice.

Elders continued to admire the spirit of the younger generation. Writer Syed Shamsul Haque said, addressing the youth, “When I see you today, I see a new Bangladesh.”

Professor Anwar Hossain, the vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, urged students to make educational institutions all over the country free of Islami Chhatra Shibir.

Shibir is the student wing of Jamaat-Islami, a political party that directly opposed the independence of Bangladesh and collaborated with the Pakistan occupation force in 1971.

Sector Commanders Forum, Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Sammilito Krira Poribar, Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal and Gonotantrik Bam Morcha, among others, expressed full solidarity with the movement.

Different socio-political organisations that in press releases demanded capital punishment for Quader Mollah include Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, Bangladesh Sammilito Islami Jote, Procchaya Foundation, Shujan and Hotnews24.

Meanwhile, a number of ruling Awami League lawmakers yesterday in parliament strongly supported and lauded the spontaneous movement at Shahbagh.

Source: The Daily Star

2 COMMENTS

  1. I fully appreciate,respect and support what the youths at the Shahbagh sit-in are trying to achieve. Only hope that those concerned get the massege. I have one request though – can they also divert some of their energies to demanding an end to all forms of corruption that has now overwhelmed our society from the very top to the bottom and establishing the rule of law? Somehow I feel this to be far more urgent and important than hanging a man.

  2. I have lost trust in all these human chains and demands for this or that. The entire tribunal has been set on shaky footings. The issue of war criminals were settled by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972 when Kamal Hossain, his foreign minister signed that document in Simla along with the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan. This tribunal issue is totally political. AL joined hands with some of their extreme factions to discredit Jamaat and ban them from politics. This is impossible but they will make a mockery of their issues at hand. At the end of the 4 years of their disastrous misrule, bankrupting the country of all moral issues and national standing abroad, they are simply diverting the energies into something different. The people who are protesting are teachers, government workers, students studying almost free in the university (and indoctrinated through their text books) making it look like a national protest. Most of these groups get their monthly incomes guaranteed from the sweat and labor of the ordinary people. They have been indoctrinated in AL politics in last 4 years. AL has politically corrupted the police, the armed and the cadre services and everything that has some intrinsic value where people’s money has been invested. Instead of working for the good of the people AL has accomplished what is only good for their party to attain a cult like organization where dissention is totally prohibited. Like the communist politburo, they have the Presidium which is totally impenetrable, undemocratic and ruthless. I would urge the people in the middle to get involved. By sitting in the fringes you are not doing any good.

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