Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bangladesh: Celebration at Projonmo Chattar
The Shahbagh demonstrators shouted ecstatically as they celebrated the death penalty of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee Thursday afternoon. The International Crimes Tribunal-1, dealing with the wartime crimes against Jamaat nayeb-e-ameer or vice-president Sayedee, handed down the verdict in a jam-packed courtroom. The 73-year-old Jamaat leader was handed down the penalty for eight wartime criminal offences as his party enforced a hartal threatening anarchy across the country assuming that “an unjust judgement would be awarded to Sayedee”. People regardless of their age, sex and class were seen showing V-sing as they were demonstrating for the last 24 days demanding death penalty to war criminals. They were also shouting with cheerfully, chanting historical slogan "Joy Bangla" as the news of Sayedee death penalty spread at the Shahbagh intersection, popularly known as Projonmo Chattar. Immediately after the proclamation of the verdict, Imran H Sarker, convener of Blogger and Online Activist Network, said, "This verdict is for the people." Dedicating the verdict to the martyrs who laid down their lives during the country's Liberation War in 1971, Imran urged people to came out into the streets and celebrate the judgement peacefully. "Hand over Jamaat-Shibir men to law enforcers. Don't take law in your hands," he said. Earlier in the morning, thousands of people joined a procession brought out from the capital's Shahbagh intersection on Thursday defying the dawn-to-dusk hartal enforced by Jamaat-e-Islami. Around 10,000 people from all walks of life under the banner of Gonojagoron Mancha took part in the procession, which started from Projonmo Chattar around 10:50am. Marching through Matsya Bhaban, Bijoynagar intersection, Kakrail, Malibagh, Mouchak, Moghbazar and Banglamotor, the procession returned to Shahbagh around 12:15pm. While parading the city streets, the demonstrators were chanting different anti-hartal slogans like "Oboidha hartal, mani na, manbo na" (we do not and will not accept illegal hartal). On Wednesday, Jamaat called the countrywide daylong hartal assuming that "an unjust punishment" would be awarded to its leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee hours after a tribunal fixed today (Thursday) for delivering the verdict of a war crimes case filed against Sayedee. People regardless of religion, cast and creed imbued with the spirit of '71 were seen started converging at the Shahbagh intersection since Thursday morning to voice against the hartal and demanding capital punishment to all war crimes accused. Many others were seen joining the procession from different points to express their solidarity with the demonstrators, who are continuing their movement for the 24th consecutive day demanding capital punishment to all war crimes accused. Meanwhile, the mass signature campaign, which began on February 22, continued Thursday. On Wednesday, the demonstrators held a grand rally at Shapla Chattar in the capital's Motijheel and vowed not to fall asleep till the verdict in the war crimes case against Sayedee is delivered today. They called upon people to resist Thursday's hartal and continue their routine activities as they had done on the three previous shutdowns called by Jamaat and its allies. The movement began on February 5, hours after Jamaat assistant secretary general Abdul Quader Mollah was sentenced to life in prison for rape, killing and genocide in 1971 during country's Liberation War. It was the verdict of a life sentence given to Jamaat leader Quader Mollah that brought the youths to the streets. They demand nothing but the death sentence to war criminals for their atrocious crimes against humanity in 1971. As the country awaits another verdict today, all eyes are towards Shahbagh and the court. On February 21, the organisers wrapped up the nonstop protests and announced a series of countrywide programmes, including grand rallies at different points in and outside Dhaka. They also declared that protesters would return to the intersection 24 hours before a war crimes verdict. Ever since the protest began, the otherwise busy Shahbagh throbbed with the spirit of resistance amid swelling public anger at the impunity the war criminals and Jamaat-Shibir enjoyed over the last 42 years.

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