There are reports that paramilitary forces from West Bengal and other places have been sent to Bangladesh to brutally crush any peaceful protests run by the Jamat e Islami.
According to the Daily Star, “BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday called a nationwide dawn-to-dusk hartal for Tuesday to protest what she said was “genocide” during Thursday’s violence over death sentence for Jamaat leader Sayedee.”
- Khaleda Zia at the press conference said, “I am stunned. I am outraged. I am deeply hurt. I have no words to condemn and protest. Heinous genocide is taking place again in our country. People are being killed like birds.
- “The government has gone on a barbaric killing spree. Old people, children, adolescents and even chaste women are not being spared. It looks like foreign occupation forces are committing atrocities against the people of Bangladesh.
- “It’s beyond our imagination that a government can carry out genocide against its own people… We cannot accept that any government for any reason would choose the path of genocide in that independent country.”
The leader of the BNP and the opposition leader demanded the AL government immediately stop this “genocide”. “Otherwise,” she warned, “the consequences will be dreadful.” She also urged the people to demand justice for the “cruel killings”.
- ..the government had adopted the tactics of “murder and genocide” to divert public attention from its unlimited failure and corruption and to retain power via a farcical election.
“The whole nation is now divided.
Ordinary citizens who are soft on religion were being tortured and termed war criminals, anti-liberation elements and collaborators when they took initiative to protest peacefully against the anti-Islam campaigns, she added.
- Khaleda said the government was patronising a group which was spreading hatred as well as provoking division in the nation.
- every verdict of these tribunals will be questionable now
According to media reports, the entire nation is in flames; Religious scholars and devout Muslims are being chased; Police brutality pales to anything seen anywhere; anyone with a beard is hunted like dogs, beaten, arrested and threatened with a summary trial; Roads have been cut at many places, and houses torched; The library at Shibgunj in Nawabgunj district was set on fire on Thursday.
The Times of Indus is reporting that “Hundreds of Bangladeshis have poured into the border district of Malda, fleeing the violence that has broken out after Jamaat-e-Islami vice-president Delwar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death on Thursday.”
The Jamat has declared an official strike–and more have been called over the weekend.Despite being banned once, and despite the fact that for decades the Jamaat e Islami has faced persecution from the Awami League, the Jamaat remains the country’s fourth largest party. It is a key ally of the main Opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party. The Jamaat with many of its leaders and activists remain powerful social actors wielding significant influence in a country which still remains overwhelmingly conservative.
- “The way the government is pushing the country towards a serious crisis, the way they are indulging in mass killing, as a responsible opposition, we cannot remain silent.
- “I call upon my countrymen to come out on the streets. We will not tolerate a single more shooting. We will resist them with the help of the people,” she said on Friday.
- Ms Zia said her Bangladesh National Party (BNP) would hold a general strike on Tuesday, and called for the police not to obey what she called unjust government orders.Khaleda Zia, Bangladesh’s main opposition leader, criticised what she called government “brutality”.
The Hindu points out the issues with the kangaroo court:
- Although Mollah was dealt with by a court that was not contaminated by these underhand dealings, those calling for his hanging fail to recognise three aspects of his trial.
- First, while the court found the evidence sufficiently credible to convict Mollah for complicity in mass murder (involving a village of over 300 people) and rape, the evidence was nonetheless far from overwhelming, as anyone who has followed the trial and read the verdict will know. Excluding the testimony of two investigation officers, the court depended on only eight witnesses to convict him on five counts — each of which involve offences alleged to have taken place at different locations and dates.
- In three of these counts, the only evidence was hearsay testimony, with most of it coming from witnesses who could not attribute their knowledge to anyone in particular. Another count, concerning rape and murder, was based wholly on the testimony of a woman who was 13 years old at the time, hiding under a bed, where there was no additional corroborating evidence.
- The second issue concerns the decision of the tribunal to only allow the defence to call six witnesses (when there was no limitation on the prosecution) simply on the basis that it thought this was a sufficient number. This would seem to be a significant restriction on the rights of the accused to present their case.
- The third issue is of the extent of Mollah’s participation in the crimes, an important determinant of sentencing. While there is some lack of clarity in the tribunal’s exact findings, it appears that in none of the five counts was Mollah convicted of personally undertaking or ordering the acts of murder or rape. He was found guilty of “complicity” in or “abetting” an offence, “accompany[ing] the gang to the crime site having rifle in hand” or facilitating mass murder and rape by being “present” at the scene.
- While these findings are undoubtedly extremely serious, it is notable that they are less serious than the findings by the same court a couple of weeks earlier in the (in absentia trial) of Abul Kalam Azad, sentenced to hanging for “physically participat[ing]” in the offence of genocide and other offences.
- These three factors, along with the wider concerns about the fairness of the tribunal process, should at the very least raise serious questions about the legitimacy of demanding a death penalty for Mollah.