Protesters at Shahbagh on Wednesday released balloons and tied with them letters they wrote to the martyrs of the War of Independence about the civil uprisings in Bangladesh 42 years on.
communication is to connect generations for reliving the spirit of the
Millions of people have responded to the novel gesture
like they did by observing three minutes of silence and lit candles to express
solidarity with the movement.
The balloons flew high at 4:13pm in a
gesture to announce that a new generation of freedom fighters has taken to the
streets to purge the country of 1971 war criminals. Balloons were left fly in
the districts at the same time.
That was the exact time when the Pakistan
army had surrendered on Dec 16, 1971, within a few kilometres of the place where
the Shahbagh protest is taking place.
The programme came as the protest
rolled to 16th straight day on Wednesday demanding capital punishment to all
convicted war criminals and a ban on politics of Jamaat-e-Islami involved in
‘crimes against humanity’ in 1971.
“Ek dabi, fanshi chai,” “Tomar Amar
Thikana, Padma Meghna Jamuna,” “Joy Bangla,” were the slogans the protesters,
mainly youth, chanted as they sent their letters to three million people who
died for the nation’s freedom.
Freedom fighter Mohammad Sekandar Ali was
holding an orange-colour balloon and a letter as the Shahbagh crowd began the
“The young generation has come down on the streets for war
crimes trial. The trial has to be completed on the soil of Bengal,” said Ali, a
He remembered his comrades ‘Khorshed’ and Ayub Ali who
were martyred in the war.
“Some Bengalis encouraged Pakistanis to kill
and rape women in 1971. They launched an assault on the honour of our mothers
and sisters. The honour cannot be protected until all the war criminals are
tried,” said another freedom fighter, Khairul Islam.
His demand for
trying war criminals resonated more clearly with Rashedul Hoque, a student of
business administration at Dhaka University.
“We want those who opposed
independence struggle hanged. That’s why we have come here.”
rally’ is slated for 3pm on Thursday, Feb 21, the day youths laid down their
lives in 1952 for the right to speak in their mother tongue Bengali in erstwhile
Pakistan, to press for the demand.
Shahbagh activists have asked for
singing national anthem at schools and colleges in support of the protest at the
Prior to the rally, floral wreaths will be placed at Shaheed Minar
by the protesters in early hours of Feb 21 in memory of the Language Movement
The movement took off after International Crimes Tribunal passed
on life sentence to Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla, infamous for his war
crimes and known as 'Butcher of Mirpur’.
The ‘lenient’ verdict angered
the people who waited for 42 long years to see the war crimes being
The movement forced the government to amend the ICT law, giving
victims the right to appeal and incorporating the provision of trying
organisations alongside individuals for war crimes.
The amendment paves
way for bringing Jamaat-e-Islami to justice for its anti-independence stance and
killing of hundreds of thousands of people including intellectuals to thwart the
The amendment also enables the prosecution to appeal
his life term given after five of the six war crimes charges were proved beyond
doubt against him.
Like the last 15 days, Wednesday began with protesters
singing the national anthem in chorus as the day broke. More people joined the
protest as the day wore on.
“Jamaat-Shibir Razakar, Ei muhurte Bangla
Chhar,” chanted the protesters repeatedly throughout the day.
They sat to
write the letter at 11am and it was announced from the Ganajagaran Mancha that
the best letter would be preserved.
Students of Viqarunnisa Noon School
& College arrive in a procession around 11:30am to a raucous
Several youths were seen posing as freedom fighters in front of
BIRDEM hospital holding guns carved out of bamboo.
“The youths will
complete the unfinished task of the Liberation War. Then, the martyrs will rest
in peace, and the nation will clean up,” said Md Shafiqul Alam Chunnu, a freedom