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    Posted February 8, 2013 by
    Dhaka, Bangladesh
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    Mixed Criticisms Surface after Grand Rally at Shahbag, Protest Continues


    This is a follow-up story to earlier iReport: The Spirit of '71 Rises at Shahbag Square: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-922072


    The revolutionary protest at Shahbag, Dhaka has rolled onto its fourth day and held a successful grand rally that saw as many as a million people’s participation. However, numerous criticisms have surfaced on the Internet following the speeches delivered on the event.


    Bloggers and Online Activists’ Network, the organizer of the demonstration, announced on Thursday that a Grand Rally would take place on Friday demanding death sentence for every war criminal. Inclusion of banners and placards with political party or foundation/organization’s name was prohibited to make sure that the grand rally was not politically-motivated.


    However, many attendees took to the Internet to express their anger at the fact that they had seen political leaders delivering speeches from the temporary stage at Shahbag square built on top of a pick-up truck.


    Saimum Shafayet Akash, a student of United International University, wrote on his Facebook, “Though it was announced that there will be no political involvement in today’s rally; that is what actually happened.” He further expressed his concern that after Friday’s grand rally, things may not go the expected way.


    Another blogger on popular community network Somewhere..in Blog wrote that the demonstration might have gone out of the bloggers’ hands who first started this protest on the day the ICT-2 verdict was delivered.


    “Our main goal was to make sure that all war criminals including Abdul Quader Mollah are hanged until death. But now, there are slogans and chanting at Shahbag square demanding ban on all sorts of religion-based politics.”


    At the beginning of the grand rally at around 3 in the afternoon, the crowd took an oath to boycott and remain on the streets until a permanent ban is imposed on Jamaat-e-Islami and religion-based politics along with their many businesses including Islami Bank, IBN Sina, several popular coaching centers including Focus and Retina, a daily newspaper and a satellite television channel.


    “But that’s not what the main goal of this demonstration was,” commented many people. “The first and foremost thing that we want is proper judgment for war criminals, not ban on religion-based politics or other business organizations. This is causing distraction to the very purpose of this whole thing,” they added.




    Despite these criticisms on the web, the actual spot was full of life with people from all spectrums of life. There were students, bloggers, teachers, and artists. Organizers estimate that the number of people joined the demonstration today could go as high as a million. They do not follow any particular party, they do not follow any particular religion, and they were all there for the same demand, "Hang the war criminals."


    Journalists on satellite TV channels have reported that this type of activity is rare in Bangladesh, considering the fact that the people joined the demonstration without any political motive.


    There are still thousands of people at Shahbag square, vowed not to move an inch until their demands are met, even though many returned home.


    On Tuesday, The International Crimes Tribunal-2 sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah to lifetime imprisonment in crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971. But Bloggers and Online Activists’ Network rejected the verdict and took to Shahbag square on the same day.


    Several thousands of people from all sphere of life joined the protest as the news was broadcast on Facebook, blogs and online media.


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