Millions of people across the country held a three-minute silence at 4pm on Tuesday in an unprecedented show of unity with the Shahbagh movement pressing for execution of all war criminals, including Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla.
On Monday, the
protesters from the centre stage at Shahbagh, now christened Ganajagaran Mancha,
called upon the people to stand three minutes in silence to express their
solidarity with the movement that demands death penalty for all war
The Shahbagh protesters continued their demonstration for the
eighth straight day on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of people imbued with
the spirit of the Liberation War started to converge at the protest venue, which
is known as ‘Projonmo Chottor’, from noon.
There was then a 60-second
countdown in the Ganajagaran Mancha. The huge human gathering at Shahbagh came
to calm after it was at 4pm.
Lucky Akter, a frontline activist who with
her fiery voice has been leading the slogans for the thousands of youths at
Shahbagh, broke open the silence at 4:03pm.
Education Minister Nurul
Islam Nahid, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu,
CPB leader Muhajidul Islam Selim, Former Vice-President of Dhaka University
Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) Mahfuza Khanam, top cultural personalities like
Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu and Ramendru Majumder stood in silence for three
minutes at Prajanma Chattar to express their solidarity.
The Members of
Parliament expressed their solidarity by standing up in front of the south plaza
of the Parliament Complex.
Tofail Ahmed, Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, ASM
Firoj, Segufta Yasmin Emili, Mainuddin Khan Badal, Mujibul Haque, Khan Tipu
Sultan, Mamataz Begum, Tarana Halim, Fazilatunessa Bappi, Shahriar Alam, RAM
Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, Ataur Rahman Atik, Abdur Rahman, Murad Hasan and
Tanvir Shakil Joy were present there.
Cabinet members, Secretaries and
all other officials and employees of the Secretariat also observed the silence
programme in front of the Secretariat.
Communications Minister Obaidul
Quader, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque
Tuku, State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Yafesh Osman
and Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Affairs Minister Dipankar Talukdar were, among
The leaders of the ruling Awami League-led Grand
Alliance also observed the silence on the premises of Central Shaheed
The left-leaning political parties like Communist Party of
Bangladesh (CPB) and Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BaSaD) observed the silence in
the city’s Paltan.
Bangladesh Bank officials, led by Bangladesh Bank
Governor Atiur Rahman, observed the silence in front of the central bank in the
Students and teachers of different colleges and
universities, including Dhaka University, also observed the
Before 4pm, traffic movement on the streets in the city came
to a halt as the people irrespective of age, sex and class started pouring out
on the streets to join the solidarity gesture.
correspondents reported that the similar silence was also observed across the
The weeklong protest has also prompted solidarity protests by
non-resident Bangladeshis at their respective cities abroad.
Online Activist Network initiated the nonstop protest at Shahbagh intersection
hours after the International Crimes Tribunal-2 on Feb 5 sentenced
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Molla to life in prison for crimes against humanity
during the Liberation War in 1971.
Hundreds of thousands of people from
all walks of life expressed their solidarity with the young men and women by
joining a massive rally last Friday. They also took an oath to continue their
movement until Molla is awarded death sentence and vowed to fight
anti-liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra
They also pledged to boycott all business and social
organisations, including media outlets, of the party.
The movement has
already spread across the country and even to the Bangladesh diaspora
The Jamaat had opposed Bangladesh's independence and sided with
Pakistani troops during the 1971 Liberation War, in which three million died and
more than quarter of a million women were dishonoured. The Jamaat activists
staffed the auxiliary support forces of the Pakistani army like the Razakars, Al
Badr and Al Shams who masterminded the mass murders. Exterminating the Bengali
intelligentsia was their main target.
Jamaat is a key constituent of the
BNP-led 18-Party Alliance.
The BNP has been claiming that the government
is trying to use the war crimes trials for its own political purpose, describing
the Shahbagh protests as a 'stage-managed drama.'
But Parliament, where
the Awami League-led coalition enjoys a huge majority, expressed solidarity with
the Shahbagh movement on Sunday.
Speaking at Parliament and Prime
Minister Hasina thanked the youths for raising voice against the 1971 war
criminals, and said her government would execute the oath thousands of
protesters took at the Shahbagh grand rally last Friday.
She said the
tribunals would deliver judgments according to the law, but they should consider
the people's expectations while delivering verdicts on war crimes
On Monday, the Cabinet approved the draft of International Crimes
Tribunal (Amendment) Act-2013 to allow appeal against ‘inadequate sentence’ in
war crimes cases.