Several thousand join sit-in demanding Mollah’s death; hang effigies of war crime suspects
VOWING to continue their sit-in, organisers of an unprecedented demonstration have announced to stage a mass rally in Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, on Friday demanding that war crimes convict Abdul Quader Mollah be awarded capital punishment for the 1971 atrocities, The Daily Star reports.
The announcement came from the sit-in at the city’s Shahbagh intersection Wednesday evening.
Outraged by the lenient punishment to Jamaat leader Mollah, several thousand people from all walks of life continued the sit-in for the second consecutive day.
A group of the youth started gathering at the intersection following the delivery of the verdict sentencing Mollah to life imprisonment for war crimes during the Liberation War.
Under the banner of ‘Bloggers and Online Activist Network’, around 5,000 people started today’s activities with the national anthem around 9am demanding death penalty for all the war criminals including Mollah.
But the number of participants is on the rise as people from different groups and ages converged on the area spontaneously and expressed their solidarity.
The demonstrators hanged effigies of war crime suspects including Mollah at Shahbagh with a vow to continue their programme until their demand is met.
Around 11:05am, Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud, also publicity secretary of the Awami League, reached Shahbagh to join the programme, expressing solidarity with the demonstrators.
AL Presidium Member Nooh-Ul-Alam Lenin and Abdus Sobhan Golap are among the other AL leader who joined the programme.
Hundreds of outraged students, activists and ordinary citizens blocked the Shahbagh intersection since Tuesday afternoon after the International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Mollah to life term imprisonment for his war crimes.
Several hundreds of activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League, student wing of the ruling Awami League, and freedom fighters joined the sit-it on Wednesday to gear up the protest.
Siddique Nazmul Alam, general secretary of central BCL, said, “People of all strata are staging protest at Shahbagh. We also joined the programme extending our solidarity.”
At least 20 Dhaka University teachers have also joined the programme at the intersection where several orgainsations gathered to express their reaction to the verdict.
The organisations include Charu Shilpi Sangsad, Udichi Shilpi Goshthi and Sangskritik Union, Workers’ Party of Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), Shwechchhasebak League and Gono Sanghati Andolon.
While addressing the programme, CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim termed the ICT verdict that sentenced Mollah to life term imprisonment as ‘frustrating’.
He said Mollah was involved with brutal killings in Mirpur during the 1971 Liberation War. But he got a small punishment, he added.
The CPB president claimed that Jamaat-Shibir appointed lobbyist at home and abroad in a bid to foil the war crime trial.
‘Slogan 71’, a pro-liberation organisation formed by a section Dhaka University students, have been supplying pure water among the demonstrators to quench their thirst.
When the several thousands of people joined the Shahbagh demo, members of a pro-liberation organisation ‘Brittanto 71’ were seen patrolling the city streets with a pick-up van to gain public support in favour of the death penalty for Mollah.
They were chanting slogans against the verdict using loud speakers. They also played songs of patriotic songs and also distributed leaflets among the mass people against the judgment.
Different political parties and social organisations also brought out processions in different districts across the country demanding the same.