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