Thousands of people attend the 'Ganajagaran Samabesh' on Friday demanding death sentences for all 'war criminals'
Demonstrators demanding death sentences for all ‘war criminals’ announced that they were reverting to nonstop protests occupying Shahbagh crossroads after one of their men was killed in Dhaka on Friday.
The declaration came barely six hours after a decision to scale
back their demonstrations to seven hours every day as the 11-day old protest
faced a significant test of whether it can continue to rally the street behind
Imran H Sarker, one of those who had organised the unprecedented
movement that has captured the imagination of the nation, made the announcement
at around 11pm at the Ganajagaran Mancha after a blogger active in the protest
was hacked to death near his house.
“We’ve been hit. One of our bloggers
has been murdered in Mirpur. In this situation, we cannot return from the
streets and we won’t,” he said.
Ahmed Rajib Haider, 26, an architect who
used to blog with the nickname “Thaba Baba (Claw)”, was found dead in Mirpur’s
Pallabi in the evening.
The demonstrators demanded authorities arrest the
murderers without any delay and punish them.
Around 12:30am on Saturday,
Imran Sarker demanded that authorities ban the ‘Sonar Bangla’ blog which had
been issuing death threats over the past four days to bloggers and arrest
everyone associated with the blog.
The protesters asked everyone to sport
black badges on Saturday protesting the murder and said Haider’s namaz-e-janaza
will be held in the afternoon at the birthplace of the movement.
youths also took a vow to thwart the Jamaat-e-Islami’s countrywide shutdown for
Earlier the day, the protesters announced seven-hour protest
rallies every day from Friday’s ‘Jagaran Samabesh’, or the Uprising
However, several organisations campaigning for execution of war
crimes perpetrators rejected the seven-hour protest plan saying it was a
‘betrayal’ of the spirit of the movement.
They declared to press ahead
until the demands were met.
The organisations that took the staunch stand
are Shahid Janani Jahanara Imam Squad, Tirandaz, Slogan 71 and Theatre Art Unit,
Dhaka University Shikkharthhi Odhikar Mancha, Natyabed, Mubiana Film Society,
Chhobir Haat and Shahbagh Cyber Judda.
Even many of the bloggers behind
the movement said they will not leave the streets just about now.
the factors fuelling that determination is the widespread belief that things
have simply gone too far to turn back now.
Around 10pm, a procession by
youths circled Shahbagh and the surrounding areas chanting slogans that urged
everyone to continue demonstration until Jamaat was banned from
The news of Haider’s murder stirred the demonstrators who
pledged to persist with their demonstrations.
Sarker then came on stage
and announced round-the-clock demonstration instead of daily seven-hour
The demonstrators observed a minute’s silence in the memory
of the deceased internet activist.
The breathless developments came after
11 days of round-the-clock demonstrations since Feb 5, when the International
Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Jamaat leader Abdur Quader Molla to life in prison
for crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971.
‘lenient’ sentence of Molla has energised the liberal and secular Bengalees
after decades of divisions and uncertainty while 1971 collaborators rose to
dominate the political landscape.
But the backlash has been further
fuelled by broader public anger over the legacy of violence Jamaat committed in
the recent past.
Meanwhile, around 100 students studying in Sweden’s Lund
University and Malmo University paraded the streets expressing solidarity with
the Shahbagh movement.
They took out a nearly two-and a-half-hour long
procession around 3pm local time in the Malmö city braving freezing cold. They
also held a candlelight vigil on Thursday.