|BNP backs Islamists' resistance|
|[Bangla Daily Star] The BNP has finally decided to counter the Gonojagoron Mancha movement by extending support to Islamist groups' agitations against the Mancha in different parts of the country.|
The main opposition party has taken the decision as it considers the Gonojagoron Mancha "a major challenge" to the BNP-led 18-party alliance's one-point movement to topple the government, sources in the BNP said.
Under the banner of 18-party alliance, the BNP also wants to "expose" the Mancha as a platform sponsored by the ruling Awami League and the government, the sources added.
The BNP was in a quandary since the beginning of the Shahbagh movement spearheaded by the Gonojagoron Mancha on February 5 following a war crimes tribunal verdict on Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah. Its leaders made confusing statements about the protests. But finally the party has taken up a strategy to use Islamic sentiments to counter the movement.
In line with its strategy, the opposition alliance at a rally in Chittagong city on Monday extended its support to radical Islamists who threatened to foil today's Gonojagoron Mancha rally there.
Hefazate Islam Bangladesh, a qaumi madrasa-based Islamist organization, has threatened to foil the rally in the port city, protesting the "anti-Islam activities of the Shahbagh atheist bloggers."
The 18-party alliance's in Chittagong Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, also chief of port city unit of the BNP, announced at Monday's rally the alliance's support to the Islamists' agitations against the Mancha.
|Bangladesh parliament amends war crime law|
|[GUARDIAN.CO.UK] Bangladesh's parliament has amended a law allowing the state to appeal against the life sentence given to an opposition leader for his role in mass killings and rape during the 1971 war for independence.|
Tens of thousands of demonstrators in central Shahbag Square cheered as the assembly approved the changes on Sunday.
Protesters have gathered in central Dhaka for the past 13 days demanding the death penalty for Abdul Quader Mollah, an assistant secretary general of the party, for war crimes. The prominent Islamist was given a life sentence by a tribunal last month, stunning many Bangladeshis.
The amendment will "empower the tribunals to try to punish any organizations, including Jamaat-e-Islami, for committing crimes during the country's liberation war in 1971", the law minister, Shafique Ahmed, said
The government is facing growing pressure to ban Jamaat-e-Islami and groups linked to it. Ahmed told s the government was considering such a ban.
Lawyers said Sunday's amendment sets a timetable for the government to appeal against Mollah's sentence and secure a retrial. The previous law did not allow state prosecutors to call for a retrial except in the case of acquittals.
|Shahbagh protesters attend janaza of murdered blogger|
|[Bangla Daily Star] The brutal killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar has strengthened the Shahbagh protesters' resolve and made them more confident of winning their battle.|
"Touching our co-fighter's coffin, we now swear not to return home leaving our demands unfulfilled," Imran H Sarker, one of the key organisers of the movement, said after Rajib's namaz-e-janaza at the venue yesterday.
"The soul of our friend will not rest in peace until the spirit of the Liberation War is upheld, Jamaat and Shibir eliminated and their politics banned," said Imran, also a blogger.
The protesters called upon the nation to fight for the justice for the killing of Rajib, who was found murdered near his house at Pallabi in the capital Friday night.
They termed Rajib a martyr and a freedom fighter of new generation and vowed to carry out his mission which was to see the war criminals hanged.
Prime Minister visited his residence in the capital's Pallabi yesterday afternoon and vowed to bring the murderers to trial.
through separate statements, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and International Committee for Democracy in Bangladesh (ICDB) expressed their solidarity with the movement.
Students and teachers of University of Asia Pacific and Institute of Architects, Bangladesh, yesterday joined the movement. Rajib was a student of the university and a member of the institute.
Spearheaded by a group of bloggers and online activists, the demonstration started on February 5, hours after Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was given life imprisonment in a war crimes case.
The 12th straight day of the demonstration passed with protesters venting outrage at the murder of Rajib, known in the Bangla blog community as Thaba Baba.
|Rajib was targeted for his blog|
|[Bangla Daily Star] Online Jamaat-Shibir activists had branded the slain blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider as an atheist who they said should have been resisted.|
Rajib, better known by his online identity as Thaba Baba, was one of the main initiators of the movement at Shahbagh, demanding death penalty for war criminals, according to a web post on Sonarbangla, a blog run by Jamaat-Shibir activists.
An image of Rajib's Facebook page was also posted on the same blog.
On February 11, a Sonarbangla blogger with a pseudonym, Sporsher Baire (Out of Touch), wrote about the organisers of the ongoing Shahbagh movement.
Rajib was also named on the site.
After Rajib was brutally murdered in Mirpur in Dhaka on Friday, the Facebook page was not found on the site.
The Daily Star, however, had captured an image of this blog page.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission blocked the Sonarbangla blog yesterday morning.
The Bloggers and Online Activists Network has been demanding that the government block the page since it launched the protest on February 5 hours after an international crimes tribunal awarded Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah life term for war crimes.
Ahmed Rajib Haider used to write as Thaba Baba on different blogs. In his last Facebook status posted Friday afternoon, he called for banning the institutions owned by the , an ally of the BNP-led 18-party opposition, in Bangladesh.
But mysteriously, most of the writings by Thaba Baba are not available on the internet from yesterday. A few of his writings are available, but whether those were written by Thaba Baba is not clear.
According to different bloggers' posts in Facebook, Shibir cadres have continued campaigning against the activists of the movement.
For example, a person named Dhansiri Wahid in his status on Facebook termed several of Shahbagh activists as atheists.
"It is a duty of all s to kill those atheists," he said.
Wahid named Thaba Baba, Asif Mohiuddin, Bami Shial, Arif Jebotik, Doctor Aizu, Nijhum Majumder and other bloggers, saying he wanted to kill them himself.
Another Facebook account holder Farabi Shafiur Rahman in a post said the imam who conducted the namaz-e-janaza of Rajib yesterday at Shahbagh would also be killed.
This person also suggested throwing Rajib's body to tigers at the Mirpur Zoo.
Last month, another blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed at Uttara in the capital by some unknown people but he survived. Asif is a friend of the activists of Shahbagh movement.
|Jamaat, Shibir try a few tricks to counter Shahbagh outrage|
|[Bangla Daily Star] In desperation, and are applying various strategies to occupy Paltan or any other important intersections of the capital to offset the Shahbagh movement.|
Their techniques include not wearing their traditional outfit -- pyjama and punjabi -- during their "operations," police and Jamaat sources say.
"Apart from this strategy, Jamaat-Shibir has recently decided to mobilise activists and intellectuals from other Islamic organizations, especially those patronised by Jamaat," a top detective told The Daily Star on Wednesday.
Law enforcement agencies say Jamaat was already in a crisis following the start of war crimes trial against its six top leaders. The crisis deepened when protesters at Shahbagh movement called for death sentence to all war criminals, including its leader Abdul Quader Mollah.
Against such a backdrop, Jamaat has also been planning to interchange its "trained cadres" between districts to carry out attacks and vandalism, law enforcers said.
"These tactics sometimes help avert arrest as those activists are unknown to locals and law enforcers," a top police official said, requesting to remain unidentified.
Also speaking anonymously, a top leader of Jamaat from Chittagong division admitted this without giving any details.
Sources say Jamaat is also planning to engage its low-profile leaders and think-tank of less known like-minded organizations to get hold of an important intersection under the banner of olama-mashaek organizations.
Several Jamaat leaders themselves have told this paper that the party has never before faced such a political crisis since 1979, when it re-entered politics Bangladesh.
After the war crimes trial started in 2010, nine of its top leaders were on war crimes charges. Six of them are facing trial and cases against the three others are under investigation.
The latest blow came on February 5, when a group of online activists rejecting the verdict against Quader Mollah, an assistant secretary general of the party, who was given a life sentence.
Protesters want death sentence for Mollah and all other war criminals, and a ban on Jamaat-Shibir politics.
In the changed situation, Jamaat-Shibir on Wednesday moved to seize the city's Paltan intersection, south gate of Baitul Mukarram, Dainik Bangla intersection or Motijheel Shapla Chattar. But police foiled the move.
"We are determined to stage the same type of demonstration again until our demands are met," said a divisional-level Jamaat leader.
The party demand includes scrapping of the two tribunals formed to try the war criminals, and releasing all the Jamaat leaders detained on war crimes charges.
Since the start of its violent attacks on law enforcers in November 2012, Jamaat and Shibir have been applying various strategies to carry out attacks and vandalism across the country.
In some cases, it was a hit-and-run strategy. In other cases, Jamaat-Shibir men chanted "Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu," a slogan used by the Awami League, before attacking police, detectives say, adding: "This is just to create confusion."
The party is also patronising anti-Ahmadiyya organizations including Tehrik-e-Khatme Nabuwwat to wage anti-Ahmadiyya movement afresh.
Jamaat is also patronising anti-Ahmadiyya elements to bring so-called Islamic leaders from Pakistain and India to wage a hate campaign in different discussions in Bangladesh.
In a surprising move, the newly formed Islamist party Tehrik-e-Khatme Nabuwwat on January 3 held a rally against Ahmadiyyas, a minority community, in the capital.
Well-placed sources say Jamaat was patronising Tehrik-e-Khatme Nabuwwat to create unrest in the country in the name of an anti-Ahmadiyya movement and keep the administration busy.
Under the banner of Khatme Nabuwwat Preservation Committee, a meeting was held in Gazipur on February 3 demanding that Ahmadiyyas be declared non- . Three anti-Ahmadiyya Islamic scholars, including Hanif Jalandari from Pakistain, spoke at the meeting.
Earlier in 2010, Jamaat and its associate organizations adopted a strategy of using Bangabandhu's name to continue with their activities among the children of different districts.
In doing so, Jamaat on March 18, 2010, opened a stall under the banner of Shishu Kantha Sangsad at a children's fair at Rajshahi Shishu Academy marking the 90th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu and the National Children's Day.
|[Bangla Daily Star] They are the biggest rallies in Bangladesh for at least two decades. Hundreds of thousands of protesters gather peacefully each day in Dhaka, demanding vengeance against a bearded political figure, Abdul Quader Mollah. Their numbers swell daily: ordinary people furious that, despite his conviction for dreadful crimes during the Liberation War in 1971, Mollah faces only a life sentence.|
The rallies began on February 5 after online activists called for protests at Shahbagh, a busy intersection in central Dhaka. They want Mollah and others on trial to face the death penalty. He was convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal, a local court set up by the government of to prosecute men, largely from an Islamic opposition party, accused of murder, torture, rape and other wartime atrocities. When, somewhat unexpectedly, Mollah was spared a death sentence, he was seen flicking supporters a V-for-victory sign. That smug gesture may have helped to provoke the outrage. Shahbagh has given its name to the protests, though some now dub it "new generation roundabout", hinting at broad aspirations for political change. Families attend, with toddlers sporting bandannas bearing slogans that call for the death penalty. Television coverage helps to draw the crowds. The sight of young, otherwise progressive Bangladeshis seeking capital punishment, through music, street theatre, chants and recitals, is both moving and unsettling. Almost no one pays heed to known flaws in the trial.
Both the ruling Awami League and, belatedly, the main opposition BNP have fallen in with the protests. Senior politicians from the ruling party have attempted to co-opt the demonstrations, but their efforts to speak to the crowd were firmly rebuffed. Still, the League could get a boost. Sheikh Hasina honoured her promise to hold war-crimes trials. In parliament this week she also spoke up for the death penalty, saying that even impartial judges must listen to public opinion. Next, the parliament is expected today to amend the act behind the war-crimes court so that the government can appeal against verdicts. Mollah's reprieve may be short-lived.
Matters are trickier for the BNP, which dallied for eight days before joining the protesters. It had more to lose, in particular a useful electoral alliance with the biggest Islamist party, the , whose leaders comprise most of those on trial. In the end, so many BNP supporters went off to join the Shahbagh protests that the party had no choice. Protesters say that their movement is a narrow one against political Islam: in favour of secular government, they want Jamaat banned. A rampage by Jamaat's violent youth wing has done nothing to damp down such calls. The government, which has already brought back an explicitly secular constitution from 1972, may soon feel ready to move.
Yet, as with any big protests, further political demands may emerge. The protests could become a plea for broad change. Few like a political system dominated by a long, bitter fight between a pair of self-serving dynasties, those of Sheikh Hasina and the BNP's , and their stave-wielding followers. If that duopoly were broken up, many at Shahbagh would celebrate.
|Bangla police kill three Islamist protesters|
|Bangladeshi police on Friday gunned down three Islamist activists who were protesting against two of their leaders’ convictions for war crimes, while even larger demonstrations calling for the men to be executed continued for an 11th day.|
A tribunal sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison on February 5 for war crimes including murder, rape and torture. Most Bangladeshis had expected a death sentence to be handed to Mollah, assistant secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami – the country’s biggest Islamist party.
Tens of thousands have protested every day in more than a dozen cities since the sentencing, demanding the execution of Mollah and others convicted of war crimes. In Dhaka, demonstrations have attracted crowds of more than 100,000.
However the judgment – which followed the conviction of another former Jamaat leader on similar charges last month – also led to smaller counter-protests around the country, involving around 5,000 Jamaat activists in total.
The deaths on Friday took place in the southeastern town of Cox’s Bazar town, a popular tourist resort, during battles between police and Jamaat activists. Police said they opened fire after teargas failed to disperse the activists.
The town’s police chief Mohammad Azad Mia said his officers had used guns after Islamists had first opened fire, set off dozens of crude bombs and hurled stones and bricks. He said, “We had to open fire in self defence, as the Islamist militants turned on law enforcers."
At least 30 activists were wounded in Cox’s Bazar and more than 150 arrested on Friday, while eight police were injured.
Jamaat has called for a two-day strike in Cox’s Bazar over the weekend and a day-long national strike on Monday to protest the killings. Local reports said hundreds of tourists, including some foreigners, were fleeing the town, anticipating more violence.
|Youths submit do-list for JS|
|[Bangla Daily Star] Shahbagh protesters yesterday submitted a six-point charter to the Speaker, demanding death penalty for all war criminals, including Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah, and revocation of the state's power to grant them amnesty.|
A five-member delegation of Bloggers and Online Activist Network that initiated the protest met Speaker Abdul Hamid at his office in the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban and placed their demands.
The other demands include an amendment to the International Crimes Tribunal Act, allowing appeals against inadequate punishment and disposal of appeals from both the defence and the prosecution within three months of their filing.
The collaborators, who had been either convicted or under trial but set free from jail after political changeover following the coup on August 15, 1975, must be brought to book, the protesters said.
Abdul Hamid said he would send copies of the charter to Leader of the House , Leader of Opposition in Parliament and other ministers concerned for taking necessary actions.
This is the first formal move by the bloggers and online activists since they occupied the capital's Shahbagh intersection on February 5 in protest at an international crimes tribunal awarding Quader Mollah life term instead of capital punishment.
|BNP baffled by youth factor|
|[Bangla Daily Star] BNP is left bewildered by the dramatic developments in the last one week, as the party appears undecided whether to back its ally wholeheartedly over the war crimes trial or endorse the youths demanding exemplary punishment to war criminals.|
Senior BNP leader Toriqul Islam on Monday said his party would not support Jamaat's demand for scrapping the war crimes tribunals.
The same day, Jamaat, which continued its vandalism and attacks on law enforcers across the country, warned of a civil war unless the tribunals are scrapped and its leaders are freed.
Against this backdrop, when International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life imprisonment for war crimes on Tuesday, hundreds of youths led by a group of bloggers poured into Shahbagh demanding death penalty for Mollah.
BNP perceived the youths as ruling party supporters, who were up to a new political game.
But as the protesters refused to allow any AL leaders to speak at the Shahbagh gathering over the next few days, it became increasingly clear that the gathering was apolitical. The protests have practically shaken Jamaat's confidence about the future of its movement.
By detaching itself from such a mass protest, a major party like BNP is actually distancing itself from the youths and also from the pro-liberation forces, said a number of senior BNP leaders.
Talking to The Daily Star, a section of BNP policymakers said they want to observe the Shahbagh movement for another couple of days to be sure that the movement is apolitical.
"Of course, the Shahbagh movement is a general people's movement. And we salute them," said acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
BNP leader Sadeque Hossain Khoka told a rally yesterday that they respect the youths' emotions about the Liberation War, but at the same time the youths should raise voice against the government's corruption.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed told The Daily Star, "There was no doubt that the agitation was initiated by a group of youths spontaneously. But later we saw that the ruling party, its ministers and its student wing Bangladesh played a major role in the movement."
Admitting that his party was still hesitant about extending support to the protesters, Moudud said BNP high-ups will meet in a couple of days to come to a decision about the party's position on the issue.
Asking not to be named, a number of BNP standing committee members told The Daily Star that BNP would suffer if it fails to read the youths' mind. They were not sure about the position of the party's top leadership on the issue.
"We should support the youths' movement even if it goes against our electoral ally Jamaat," a BNP leader said wishing anonymity.
Another BNP leader observed that the party was in a dilemma about the youths' movement, as both the Jamaat issue and youths' support are closely intertwined with it.
|3 killed in Ctg violence|
|[Bangla Daily Star] At least three people were killed and around 100 injured across the country yesterday as Jamaat-e-Islami enforced a dawn-to-dusk hartal protesting the war crimes trial of its leader Abdul Quader Mollah.|
As the International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Quader Mollah to life imprisonment yesterday, Jamaat called another countrywide daylong hartal for today demanding cancellation of the ICT and release of its top leaders detained on war crimes charges.
The government last night deployed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members in different strategic points of the capital to avert any subversive activities over the verdict.
Around 6:30pm yesterday, Jamaat-Shibir cadres swooped on law enforcers in the port city's Dewanhat area. They opened fire and hurled hand-made bombs at police.
A pedestrian suffered injuries in the blasts.
Admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), he succumbed to his injuries immediately after being taken to an operation theatre, doctors said.
The victim, Afzal Ahmed, 25, was a vendor from Pahartali, Chittagong.
Another pedestrian, Shafiqul Islam, 24, a garment worker, suffered serious injuries being hit by sticks as he was caught in the clash.
Shafiqul breathed his last at the CMCH around 9:15pm, Assistant Sub-Inspector Pankaj Barua of CMCH Police Camp said.
Earlier around 12:30pm, a man was killed in a gunfight between police and pro-hartal activists in the port city's Alankar intersection.
The victim, Imran Khan, was a first-year student of Chittagong Polytechnic Institute. Jamaat claimed the youth was its activist but his father told The Daily Star that he was not involved in politics.
Soon after the tribunal pronounced its verdict around 11:30am, Jamaat and its student body Islami Chhatra Shibir went berserk and vandalised more than 100 shops and automobiles at different parts of the country, said witnesses.
The rioters also torched at least 30 vehicles including five police vans.
Equipped with firearms and sharp weapons, Jamaat-Shibir men attacked police and hurled bombs at three places including Nababganj in Dinajpur leaving four police members injured.
Over 35 people in Chittagong and 65 more elsewhere suffered wounds when the Jamaat-Shibir cadres fought pitched battles with the law enforces. The injured include at least 25 policemen.
Witnesses told The Daily Star that several hundred pickets equipped with sticks and brick chips attacked police at Alankar intersection in Chittagong and blasted hand-made bombs around 1:00pm.
In Bahaddarhat intersection, over 2,000 Jamaat-Shibir men wielding guns brought out a militant procession around 1:00pm. They went on the rampage smashing shops and torching at least 20 vehicles.
The activists marched towards Panchlaish Police Station while firing shots. Police had to fire back to disperse the attackers.
At least eight people including an additional deputy commissioner and a constable of Chittagong Metropolitan Police were injured in clashes in the port city. They were admitted to CMCH.
Police nabbed 15 persons in connection with the Bahaddarhat incident.
|Bangladesh war crimes court jails Islamic party leader for life|
|[LATIMES] Protesters clashed with police in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Tuesday after a tribunal sentenced an Islamic party leader to life in prison for his role in the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.|
"Never forget, never forgive, never 'understand.'"
Although once he's in prison for the rest of his life, we can decide not to care about him anymore...
The International Crimes Tribunal handed down the verdict against Abdul Quader Mollah, 64, a senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party, in a crowded, heavily guarded courtroom at the high court complex in Dhaka.
Jamaat was allied with the Pak military during the war for independence. They provided the local muscle as auxilliaries, familiar with who was who and who was where. I think that was the most vicious "civil war" since at least the end of the Second World War, with somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million dead. (Biafra is probably second, with a million civilian and 200k military casualties.)
Jamaat called a general strike Tuesday that shuttered shops and schools and slowed traffic to a crawl in parts of the capital.
They've been hartaling continuously almost since the start of the war crimes trials. Virtually all the Jamaat's top leadership is on trial or fled.
On Monday, in the wake of a large Jamaat protest demanding that the tribunal be scrapped, several people were injured, local media reported.
They threatened civil war before the verdict came out. Since this is the cleanup from their first "civil war" (with Pakistain) forty years ago they might want to think twice about that.
"We're in the midst of chaos," said Ataur Rahman, a professor at the University of Dhaka. "It's part of Bangladesh politics."
When Hasina's in BNP is screaming and hollering in the streets. When BNP is in, Awami League is screaming and hollering in the streets. I don't think BNP has been present in the legislature since Hasina got in.
Mollah was found guilty on five of six charges, including mass murder and rape. Prosecutors accused him of participating in the deaths of several hundred unarmed civilians as a then-top leader in the Jamaat's student wing while studying physics at Dhaka University, a charge he denied.
"Nope. Nope. Wudn't me."
Several other Jamaat leaders are accused of crimes against humanity during the war against Pakistan over four decades ago.
Somebody committed them. A significant percentage of the populace didn't tie their hands behind themselves and blow their brains out.
On Jan. 21, a major TV preacher and former party member was sentenced to death in absentia.
That would be Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar. Wherever he is, he's not going to be extradited.
Atty. Gen. Mahbube Alam told media representatives Tuesday that the verdict "upset us as we expected ... capital punishment for the crimes he committed."
When he's in jug he's still alive, eligible for prisoner swaps for hostages or for jail breaks, given prison guards who can be bribed. I think Bangla is something like #143 on the "least" corrupt list.
Human rights groups have questioned proceedings at the tribunal, which was created in 2010 and has no international oversight.
Daily Star has carried accounts of the trials virtually every day. Many of the "issues" are manufactured by the defense -- they didn't show up for the sentencing, for instance.
Concerns include a decision not to probe the November disappearance of a defense witness outside the courthouse gates. "An allegation as serious as the abduction of a witness deserves prompt action and a thorough and impartial investigation," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement at the time.
The story is that Shukho Ranjan Bali was abducted by RAB while arriving to give testimony. That was on November 5th. He hasnt been seen since. That was also in Delwar Hussein Sayedee's case, not this one.
Jamaat rejected Tuesday's verdict and called for another strike Wednesday in a bid to ramp up pressure on the ruling Awami League.
They also "rejected" the arrests of their top leadership. Their "rejection" means more months of rioting in the streets.
"The verdict is a reflection of political vengeance," Rafiqul Islam Khan, Jamaat's acting assistant secretary-general, told reporters. "The verdict is dictated by the government."
Hasina's govt seems determined to break the power of the Jamaat. Jamaat is part of BNP's four-party alliance -- even though religion-based parties are illegal under the Bangla constitution -- as one reason. They also kind of blatantly involved with the extremist groups like JMB and HuJI. Most important, though, I think, is that they turn their brown turbans out flinging bricks and whacking things and setting fire to cars at the least opportunity.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government, which initiated the tribunal, has denied any bias in the proceedings. Bangladesh's political system can be highly polarized, and all of those on trial for war crimes are opposition politicians.
There's a political element to it, but I'm sure it galls Hasina and her associates to see the Jamaat leadership fat and happy and allied with Khaleda Zia -- the widow of Ziaur Rehman.
Analysts said the government may have underestimated how contentious the tribunal would become. Many of the accused are well-entrenched in Bangladeshi politics four decades on, even as a younger generation finds appeal in Jamaat's Islamic message.
I already said they were fat and happy.
"If the government pushes too hard to get these guys, it could create more divisions in society," Rahman said. "We still carry a lot of emotion from the 1971 war."
Doing nothing is always the easiest thing, isn't it? Doing something to contain or eliminate a growing threat is much harder.
Jamaat, which opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971, is suspected of helping organize groups that assisted Pakistani troops in killings, rapes and arson. According to official figures, Pakistani troops and local collaborators killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women.
It's not "suspected." It's documented. The guys on trial are among those documented.
Police last week said they shot and killed two Jamaat activists in clashes across Bangladesh. The party has put the number of its members in the hands of police at four. Twelve people, including five policemen, were injured over the weekend after Jamaat supporters clashed with police in a Dhaka suburb.
|Bangla Jamaat warns of civil war|
|[Bangla Daily Star] The Abdul Quader Mollah. has called a countrywide dawn-to-dusk for today, protesting the verdict to be delivered in a war crimes case against its leader |
Yesterday, it also threatened to enforce non-stop hartals from tomorrow "if the government's blue print of punishing Jamaat leaders reflects in the verdict" due today at the International Crimes Tribunal-2.
"Don't push the country into a civil war by delivering one-sided verdicts against our leaders. If anything happens against Quader Mollah, every house will be on fire," Jamaat acting secretary general Rafiqul Islam Khan said at a declaring the hartal.
The government would be responsible for the consequences, he added.
Jamaat's ally BNP, however, did not lend support to today's shutdown. The main opposition party backed most of the Jamaat programmes in the past, including the latest hartal on January 31.
ICT-2 registrar AKM Nasiruddin Mahmud around 1:00pm yesterday made an announcement that the tribunal would deliver its verdict in the case against Jamaat Assistant Secretary General Quader Mollah today.
Hours after that Jamaat declared the hartal, demanding scrapping of the ICTs and release of its seven leaders who are being tried on charges of crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War in 1971.
a man was burnt to death when some unruly people set fire to a bus around 10:00pm in the capital's Uttara.
"We found a burnt body of an unknown passenger inside the vehicle after we doused the fire," said Zakir Hossain, senior station officer of Tongi Fire Station.
The body was burnt beyond recognition. But one man named Rashed claimed the dead to be his brother, Russel Mahmud.
Around 6:00pm, Jamaat-Shibir activists brought out a procession at Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue and blasted three cocktails when police intercepted them, witnesses said.
The law enforcers fired 30 rubber bullets when they tried to set fire to a bus, Apurbo Hasan, officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Police Station told The Daily Star.
Two more cocktails were near the High Court area around 7:00pm, witnesses said.
Earlier in the day, over thirty to forty thousand activists of Jamaat and its student wing held rallies and marched in procession in the capital's Kakrail and Motijheel Shapla Chattar, blocking traffic movement. They warned the government not to "deliver controversial verdicts" against its leaders.
At a rally at Motijheel Shapla Chattar, they also threatened that Jamaat-Shibir leaders would not remain idle at home if the government took the matter lightly.
"The butcher Quader [of 1971] and our leader Abdul Quader Mollah are not the same man. We will not remain idle at our homes if the tribunal [International Crimes Tribunal-2] shift butcher Quader's blame to our Quader," said Selim Uddin, assistant secretary general of the Jamaat city unit.
Asked about the latest strategy that the party adopted regarding the issue, a top Jamaat leader of Chittagong (north) unit told The Daily Star that a section of the party leaders were trying to reach an "understanding" with the ruling Awami League.
The Jamaat leader, who requested not to be named, refused to elaborate any further.
Since November last year, Jamaat-Shibir activists have been launching a series of hit-and-run attacks on police in different parts of the country, demanding scrapping of ICTs and release of its top leaders.
At least 20 sustained injuries in three such attacks in Narayanganj, Bogra and Joypurhat on Saturday.
In the last hartal on Thursday, a policeman, a CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver and three Jamaat-Shibir activists were killed in violence.
"We want to say clearly that the country's people will resist the government's 'vindictive conspiracy' in the name of trial [of war criminals]," Jamaat leader Rafiqul said while announcing today's hartal.
People would even spill blood to resist "vindictive verdicts" by ICTs, he added.
Islami Chhatra Shibir last night held an emergency meeting in the capital, in which its top leaders warned that thousands of party activists are ready to sacrifice their lives to get the top leaders of Jamaat freed from jail.