- Posted February 12, 2013 by
Bangladeshi students at UIUC echoed the demand of capital punishment for war criminals
On February 9, 2013, the Bangladeshi students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), together with the people of the Bangladeshi community living in the Urbana- Champaign area, expressed their solidarity with the ongoing “Shahbag Movement”. This is a mass people’s movement that is going on in Bangladesh demanding capital punishment for war criminals of the Bangladesh liberation war. The event was organized by the students of UIUC, which was attended by about 50 protesters, who gathered at the UIUC campus holding placards and banners that said – “No mercy for war crime. Be afraid, it’s time!”, “We want capital punishment for all war criminals”, “We support the ‘Shahbag Movement’”, and similar slogans. A statement of solidarity with the “Shahbag Movement” was then read in front of the crowd by two students. The event also included recitation of Bengali poems written by the students highlighting the atrocities committed by the war criminals during 1971, and demanding capital punishment of all the convicted war criminals. Another statement of solidarity with the ongoing movement was also read, recounting a short history of the genocide of 1971, and the role that these war criminals played in that massacre.
1971, the birth year of Bangladesh, is the most memorable year for every Bangladeshi. It is also the year of horror, torture, courage and sacrifice. All of it started abruptly with “Operation Searchlight” on March 25, 1971, when the Pakistani Army launched a cold-blooded, gruesome attack on Bangladeshi people to repress the Bangladeshi nationalist movement. Due to the sheer atrocities and rampant killings of innocent people, the death toll resulted in one of the largest genocides since the ethnic cleansing during the Second World War. More than 3 million people were killed; nearly a quarter of a million women were raped; children were abducted and tortured. Many of those crimes were committed by a group of Bangladeshi collaborators assisting the Pakistani Army, who are known as Razakar, Al-Shams and Al-Badr. The Bangladeshi people resisted valiantly and fought back with unwavering spirit. Sensing defeat, the Pakistani Army systematically executed at least one thousand Bangladeshi pro-liberation intellectuals on the night of December 14, 1971 with the help of those local collaborators; one last attempt to cripple the about to be born nation. Finally, the Pakistani Army unconditionally surrendered to the allied forces of Bangladesh and India on December 16, 1971, after a horrifying ordeal of 9-month long blood bath.
After that, four crucial decades have passed; during this period Bangladesh has seen the unfortunate event of the rehabilitation of war collaborators under the veil of religion-based political parties. Despite this long tantalizing agony, the young generation of Bangladesh hasn’t given up. Due to the continuous pressure created by the general people, the Bangladeshi Government finally formed an International Crime Tribunal (ICT) in 2010; and the trials of major war collaborators have been going on since then. On February 5, 2013, the ICT convicted one of the most infamous war criminals Abdul Quader Molla, also known as Butcher Quader, for taking part in one of the worst genocides in the history. The general consensus was that only capital punishment is the answer to these heinous crimes. However, to everyone’s shock, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for only 23 years. This verdict instantaneously embittered the 41 year old wound of the nation and sparked the movement to demand capital punishment for Abdul Quader Molla and all the other captured war criminals. Now, the country demands justice. Bangladeshis from every corner of the world are showing their solidarity with the movement and demanding justice remembering the souls sacrificed in the Liberation War of 1971.
Videos and photos of these events have been uploaded on YouTube and on a Facebook event page for public viewing and sharing.