- Posted February 10, 2013 by
Rochester, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Bangladeshi students at Rochester Demand Highest Punishment for 1971 War Criminals
Bangladesh earned its liberation from Pakistan in 1971 at the cost of 3 million lives. This genocide was one of the worst genocides in 20th century. To put it in perspective, the Holocaust took the lives of 6 million Jews over 6 years. In Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), the Pakistani army and their local collaborators killed 3 million people in just 9 months.
This genocide went unpunished for four decades. Any and every attempt to bring the war criminals to justice was thwarted by domestic and international politics. During this time, the collaborators were systematically rehabilitated in politics to the point that they became part of the ruling coalition during 2001-2006.
But, justice was not denied. After necessary preparations, a tribunal was formed in 2010 and some of the leading war criminals were arrested. The first verdict was announced on January 21, 2013, sentencing Abul Kalam Azad (“Bachchu Razakar,” Bachchu the Traitor) to death, in absentia. The second verdict was announced on February 4, 2013, sentencing Quader Mollah (“Koshai Quader,” Butcher Quader)for life despite finding him guilty of more than 344 murders and other crimes during 1971.
The verdict of Kader Mollah came as a shock to the general masses, and they took to peaceful street protests at a center-city square called Shahbag. Tens of thousands have been camping there, protesting day and night, and demanding maximum punishment for the convicted collaborator and all the other war criminals. The protest started as a spontaneous gathering of some bloggers and online activists, but promptly grew manifold.
The activists and protesters called for a mass gathering on Friday, February 8, at 3pm local time. Thousands of people from Dhaka city and across the country gathered there in demand for capital punishment for all the war criminals. At 3pm the program started with the national anthem sung by the several thousand present there, thousands more sitting in front of the television sets across the country and across the globe joined them which was the most amazing thing a person could ever imagine to experience once in a lifetime. The movement started from a facebook event page, later the number of people joining spontaneously continued to grow, and finally the number of people who attended especially on February 8, made a history. It was most unprecedented in history, people coming on their own in solidarity with the movement demanding capital punishment for all the war criminals, giving slogans tirelessly day and night. The movement is on, and the protesters vow not to go home until all the war criminals are punished. Similar kinds of protests are going on all over the country.
Bangladeshis across the globe are expressing their solidarity with this movement; they are having protests, rallies and organizing other programs to express their solidarity. All are most amazingly united for a single cause of justice. They are active in blogs, facebook and other media to have their say, to connect with all that are involved with similar kinds of activities- sharing with each other, collecting information, exchanging views, enriching each other and contributing in any way possible.Everyone is doing their bits to contribute to this movement, be it in the form of lighting a candle, waving a flag alone; posting and sharing on facebook, blogs, twitter and other online forums; saying I demand justice and saying that I am with the people at Shahbag!Our minds are at Shahbag now.
We share similar views:
a) The war criminals should be handed exemplary punishment.
b) Any political foul play to delay/deny justice will not be tolerated.
We, the Bangladeshi students at University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology organized an event to express our solidarity with the Shahbag movement. We gathered at the two institutions and spent some time together to talk about the latest updates of the movement, to express our feelings of love for the country, our strong sense of unity and our demand for highest punishment for the War Criminals of the 1971 Liberation War. We are with the people of the country, we are a part of the movement, we want justice. And this time we won't go home without justice being done.
We sang the national anthem together. It is a time of an unearthly feeling of love for the country and of being proud Bangladeshis! We know how to be united against injustices. We know we will win over all odds. It is unimaginably great to be singing our national anthem together in a foreign land, to sing other patriotic songs, to make posters demanding highest punishment for all the war criminals. The Bangladeshis across the world are doing things expressing their solidarity. We all are awake, we will keep vigil to make sure that justice prevails and all the war criminals get what they deserve for killing millions, for committing one of the worst genocides in the history of human kinds, for torturing people most brutally ever.