Teeming thousands chant ‘Hang them all’
Published: 2013-02-08 14:19:09.0 BdST Updated: 2013-02-08 16:29:48.0 BdST
Tens of thousands of people forgetting their caste, professional and political identities descended on Shahbagh intersection on Friday afternoon with the chant of ‘Death penalty to all war criminals’, including Abdul Quader Molla, and a ban on the politics of Jamaat-e-Islami.
The ‘grand rally’ at the intersection, called ‘Prajanma Chattar’, ended with a vow to spread the ongoing movement from Teknaf to Tetulia.
People from across the broad spectrum of society who gathered from far and wide of Bangladesh also took an oath to carry on their movement demanding death penalty for all war criminals and pledged to boycott all business and social organisations, including media outlets, of the Islamist party.
The rally organisers repeatedly reaffirmed their resolve to take their movement forward until all war criminals were handed down the capital punishment.
The protesters took oath: “The platform of the masses will spread the movement across the country from Teknaf to Tetulia untl the death penalty of the despicable Razakars, al-Badrs, genocide plotters and rapists of the 1971 [Liberation War]. The movement will continue until the politics of Jamaat-Shibir is banned. We’ve to do work so that the anti-liberation elements that had been released after the 1975 period are put before the special tribunal.”
Demanding a ban on the business, social and cultural organisations run by the war criminals, the rally was told that the Jamaat and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were infiltrating into organisations by collecting funds through these institutions.
The campaigners took the oath: “We’ll demand arrest and maximum punishment to the Jamaat-Shibir leaders and activists who have threatened to push the country into a civil war.”
People including women took the oath to occupy the streets until the government outlawed the Jamaat-run business establishments -- Islami Bank, Ibn Sina, several coaching centres including Focus and Retina, media outlets including Diganta Television and the daily Naya Diganta – and revoked citizenship of their activists.
They took oath: “We’ll boycott all the educational and cultural organisations that spread anti-liberation thoughts among the children. In a word, we’ll boycott all the political, social and financial institutions.”
They further promised: “Through video clips and newspaper reports, we’ll help in bringing to trial those who threatened of civil war. We’ll not subscribe to the newspapers of the war criminals in our homes and offices.”
The rally began at Shahbagh with the announcement of a ‘Chorompotro’ or the ultimate call to hang the war criminals from the main platform for the rally erected atop a pick-up truck at 3pm.
In order to give the rally an apolitical look, at one stage all partisan banners and festoons were removed from the rally, barring those demanding capital punishment for the war criminals.
Blogger Shahidul Islam Raju read out the ‘Chorompotro’ and the national anthem was sung after that.
The spirit at the venue was infectious as people broke into the chants of “Tui Razakar” (you are a war criminal) and the protesters stood and sang the national anthem in chorus at the rally organised by Blogger and Online Activists Network.
People in droves came to the rally venue from across the capital in a procession of vehicles and in small groups carrying the national flag, musical instruments, banners and placards.
The gathering had run as far back as to the streets up to Doel intersection, Banglamotor, Kataban and Matsya Bhaban areas from the rally venue.
Anjan Roy hosted the presentation at the main rally stage while freedom fighter Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu assisted him.
The rally was addressed by Mili Rahman, widow of Shaheed Flight Lieutenant M Matiur Rahman Bir Shrestha – one of the most valiant heroes of the Liberation War – educationist and eminent writer Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, Dhaka University Vice-chancellor AASM Arefin Siddique, and freedom fighter and cultural personalities Kamal Lohani and Hasan Imam.
They shouted slogans standing at the main platform demanding execution of the Razakars and the ‘war criminals’.
Overwhelmed by their Liberation War spirit, Mili Rahman said, “Our new generation is awake. No-one can stop us. It’s that Ekattor when we librated the country. Today you, the youngsters, will build a country free of Razakars and Shibir.”
Kamal Lohani also vowed to ensure trial of the war criminals. “Today the people have stood up.”
Later, Imran H Sarker, a lead organiser of the demonstration that began shortly after Jamaat leader Molla was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes on Tuesday, administered the oath to thousands of people, mostly youths.
Earlier, he announced a four-point charter of demands. The demands are: all the war criminals have to be given capital punishment, the Jamaat-Shibir politics has to be banned, those who threatened civil war have to be identified and put on trial, and all the forces which rehabilitated the war criminals have to be brought to trial.
To the dismay of many, the ICT-2 on Tuesday awarded Molla life in prison for his crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971. People of all strata and various organisations, including the socio-political and cultural ones, said they expected death penalty for him.
Outraged by the ‘too little’ punishment, cultural and political activists and youngsters, mostly university students and bloggers, whipped up protests on the social media and blogs. People started converging at Shahbagh in the heart of the capital since Tuesday afternoon soon after the delivery of the verdict.
They then grew in numbers and have been keeping candle-lit vigil for the last four nights.
The protest spirit also spread to other parts of Bangladesh and voices called for hanging the Jamaat-e-Islami stalwart.
Different professional bodies, pro-liberation forces, students and commoners staging the sit-in demanding Molla’s execution on Wednesday called the mass gathering for Friday.
Responding to the call for institution of a people’s court at the heart of the capital, people started gathering at the intersection and its surrounding areas to join the rally in small protest procession from Friday morning.
The gathering covered Kataban, Shishu Park, BSMMU and Fine Arts Faculty of Dhaka University by 1pm and the attendance swelled ever since.
The organisers said that the rally was called to give the campaign an ‘apolitical’ shape.
The streets turned into a huge human sea by 3pm. An official of the Detective Branch (DB) of police said that some 250,000 people joined the mass rally.
The pro-liberation activists shared the ABC of asserting the right to get justice shouting creative slogans.
“Q for Quader Molla/Tui Razakar” (you are a war criminal), S for Sayedee/ Tui Razakar, M for Mujaheed/ Tui Razakar, N for Nizami/ Tui Razakar, G for Ghulam Azam/ Tui Razakar,” they shouted at the rally.
The Jamaat had opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971. The party had sided with Pakistani troops during the war when officially three million people were killed, and the fundamentalist party allegedly masterminded the murders of the country's leading intelligentsia including professors, doctors and journalists.
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