Social Media Movement for capital punishment of war criminals
With thunder in their voices the assembled hundreds of thousands at the Shahbagh intersection–now named “New Generation Chattar”–pledged at the grand rally on Friday afternoon not to ease their pressure or cease their movement till the war criminals of 1971 Liberation War are hanged.
They all–old and young; men and women; the youth and the children– began thronging the now-fabled intersection from the morning, and by the time their grand rally formally began the assemblage had transformed itself into a veritable sea of humanity.
The enormous crowd, simply put, vowed not to return home till all the war criminals, including Abdul Quader Molla who was earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, received capital punishment.
The grand rally at Shahbagh Square, which began at 3 pm, also saw a collective oath, urging everyone to forge national unity, to press home the demand for immediately banning the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami.
The grand rally was organised by a group of youngsters, under the banner of Bloggers and Online Activist Network, in a sequel to their movement started on Tuesday evening, demanding death sentence for war crimes convict Quader Mollah. On Tuesday, International Crime Tribunal-2 awarded life sentence to Mollah, triggering protest throughout the country.
“We are committed to staying on the streets and to spread the movement from Teknaf to Tetulia, unless the verdict against the war criminals are implemented and the citizenship of the war criminals be scrapped,” announced Imarn H Sarkar, the coordinator of the movement, while reading out the declaration of the grand rally.
The declaration also urged everyone to boycott all business, cultural, social organisations and media outlets, owned by the war criminals.
Business organisations like Islamic Bank, Ibn Sina, Retina and Focus and media outlets like the daily Naya Diganta, Diganta Television, daily Amar Desh and the daily Sangram, should be boycotted, the declaration said.
The rally demanded that the Jamaat leaders who threatened to start a civil war, must be brought to book. It also urged everyone to create mass-resistance against the forces that were backing the war criminals and were trying to foil the war-crimes trials, through creating anarchy in the country.
People of all walks of life started to assemble at Sahbagh Square, since the morning, chanting slogans demanding death penalty for all rajakars.
Bloggers and online activists, politicians, freedom fighters, university teachers, cultural activists and students flocked to the place spontaneously, from the first day of the rally started on Tuesday, soon after the announcement of the second verdict of
President of Sector Commanders Forum, Major Gen (retd) KM Shafiullah said that the movement of the young generation at Shahbagh Square, is the repetition of the Liberation War of 1971.
“We fought against the Pakistani forces and their collaborators—rajakars and Al-Badr—to free the nation. The black sheep—rajakars and Al-Badr—opposed the Liberation War. This country is no more controlled by the collaborators. They should be banished from here,” he added.
“They should be forced to leave for Pakistan, after kowtowing with the nation, for their crimes against humanity,” he further added.
The Liberation War hero urged the young generation to continue its movement, until its demand is met.
Shaon Mahmud, daughter of the martyred composer Altaf Mahmud, said, “My father did not have his grave here, since he was taken away by the Pakistani occupation forces, and the rajakars. So, the rajakars do not deserve to be buried here, since the soil of the entire country is soaked to the blood to the martyred.”
Mili Rahman, wife of Shaheed Ft Lt Motiur Raham, said that no one can suppress the movement.
“The country will be freed from rajakars through the
movement of the new generation,” she added. All the establishments, including Islami Bank and Ibn Sina Hospital, of the Jamaat, have to be shut down. The memberships of Quader Molla and Kamaruzzaman, at Jatiya Press Club, have to be cancelled.”
Professor Dr Zafar Iqbal said, “This mass upsurge has become another 1971, the awakening for freedom. The youth who did not see the Liberation War have gone back to it, as the new generation of freedom fighters.”
“Today, I can see the smiles on the faces of three million martyrs. Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam is looking at you with a smile. They are thinking of you, because their unfinished work will now be completed by the young generation,” he added.
“I thought that the young generation was busy with Facebook, but my thought has changed today. When nobody could utter the word ‘rajakar’ in the country, late writer Humayun Ahmed could put the work in the mouth of a parrot, saying ‘Tui rajakar’ (You rajakar). Today Humayun Ahmed is also looking at you with a smile,” Prof. Iqbal said.
Urging thousands of youth to continue their movement until their demand is met, writer Anisul Haque said, “You should prepare yourself to follow the path of the language martyrs, if need be.”
Eminent cultural personality, Hasan Imam, said the young generation would be able to complete the unfinished task of Jahanara Imam, who had sentenced rajakars to death, in a people’s court in 1992. “The enemies of the Liberation War must be rooted out from the soil of Bangladesh,” he added.
Eminent journalist Kamal Lohani said, “This movement reminds us of the Liberation War. It seems we’ve got a new army of people who will complete the unfinished task of our freedom fighters.”
“The rajakars are not Bangladeshi residents. They received their verdict in 1971. They deserve nothing less than capital punishment. The government should ban religion-based politics, including the politics of Jamaat and Shibir. Both the parties ought to be banished from this country,” he added.
AAMS Arefin Siddique, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, demanded retrial of the Quader Molla case. He said the trial of other war criminals should be hastened. “The country should be freed of the rajakars. They should be awarded exemplary punishments,” he added.
Rejecting the verict in the Quader Mollah case, Prof. Anwar Hossain, vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, said that Parliament should ensure punishment of the rajakars, by formulating relevant laws. He also urged the new generation to put a stop to the activities of Chhatra Shibir, in all educational institutions.
Law enforcement agencies should bring Jamaat-Shibir activists to book for creating anarchy across the country, he added.
Terming the mass upsurge as a new struggle, Prof. Anu Muhammad said, “If capital punishment for war criminals is not ensured, this struggle will continue.”
“Capital punishment is also a minor punishment for the war criminals, for they had committed heinous crimes during the Liberation War in 1971,” he added.
He also said that the young generation would not accept any kind of compromise regarding the trial.
Observing the mass upsurge, Prof. Pran Gopal Datta, vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said that there is no difference between 1971 and 2013. “I salute the grand rally for the spontaneity of the young generation in raising the demand for hanging war criminals. I believe they will win,” he added.
Nasir Uddin Yusuf Bachchu, president of Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, said that young people would not tolerate lacklustre attitude regarding the war crimes trial.
The areas between Kantaban to Children’s Park, and Ruposhi Bangla Hotel to Fine Arts Faculty in Dhaka University, became jam-packed with thousands of people. Many of them were wearing colourful bands, printed with slogans like “Hate rajakars”, around their heads. The protesters sported national flags, brought out processions, carried banners and festoons, screened films on the Independence War, painted stretches of road, staged street plays, and raised slogans demanding death sentence for Mollah.
Clapping all day long, the protesters also chanted the slogan “Let the weapons of 1971 roar again”.
They vowed that they would not leave the place, until their demand for Quader Molla’s death penalty is met.
Police blocked road stretches to Shahbagh from Kantaban, Matsya Bhaban and Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, creating traffic snarls in the adjacent areas. Shahbagh police inspector Serajul Islam said despite the peaceful nature of the protest, they had blocked the roads to ensure security. Nearly 1,000 law enforcers, including 300 RAB personnel, have been deployed, to ensure security at the rally site.