Bangladesh has never been so positive, so neutral and so united. Yet, this is really sad and heart breaking to see that the recent major youth uprising in Bangladesh didn’t get any international media attention. Thus I am putting my points in my blog. Anyone can quote and share.
February 5, when it started. When the verdict against Quader Molla (an infamous war crimial who was proved guilty of killing 344 people in village Alubdi in 1971 with 4 more accusation of murder and rape proved) gone against public expectation. Even when the war criminal was proved guilty he received life-long imprisonment. Within an hour the young bloggers and online activists called out to the people of the country to unite and protest in Shahbag the University area. And within next few hours this has become the biggest youth movement in Bangladesh. This movement has a unique characteristic. There is no leader. The spontaneity is what driving the force. There is no violence, no vandalism and no extremism. Everyone stands in solidarity and in harmony.
Right now today is the 12th day of the movement, everyday thousands of people gather in Shahbag near Dhaka University in solidarity with the protestors, who demands capital punishment of all the war criminals. Now this is a people’s movement. This is a round the clock protest. People stays till late night, light up candles and sing national anthem, give slogans and share this brilliant momentum. The protestors are receiving food, water, funds to make posters, banners and other materials from all sectors of people. Yesterday blogger Rajiv Haider has been be-headed by terrorists Jamat E Islam cadres. This has given more force to the movement. Along with the main demand ‘capital punishment for all war criminals’, the protestors demanded to ban Jamat from politics, boycott all Jamat owned, supported organizations and accomplices. People at the movement says, Jamat Islam do not hold the pure essence of Islam. They are trading Islam for their own benefit.
The convener of the movement Dr. Imran Sarkar a young blogger and activist has requested the entire country to stand up and be silent for three minutes from 4:00pm till 4:03 pm to demand capital punishment for all war criminals on last Tuesday. Last Thursday millions of Bangladeshis lighted candles in solidarity. This is magnificent to find out the unity that has been formed centering this movement. People have gone beyond their political ideologies. Bangladeshi from all class, culture even beyond border stood up together. Entire nation stood together. Life came to a halt.
To many, capital punishment is unacceptable. I accept. But people who are defending capital punishment for these war criminals need to know the difference between genocide and simple murder. The non-negotiable issues in life requires stronger move. Self respect, national pride are that non-negotiable issues for us. Moreover we want the highest form of punishment that prevails in our country for the war criminals. In Bangladesh death sentence is the ultimate. So let it be. Since Rajiv’s murder this debate of weather or not to give death sentence becomes absolutely pointless.
This country won the independence from Pakistan in 1971 after three million people were killed and two hundred thousand female were raped. As my good friend Diya wrote on her Face book status: “While the concept of capital punishment in the 21st Century has been brought under scrutiny, it cannot be denied the likes of Quader Mollah and other war criminals committed heinous acts – not only against the sovereignty of a nation, but also the greater humankind. Killing and raping of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, who had little or no clue what was coming onto them and preying on the weak at the dead of the night is not collateral damage, it is cold-blooded murder. Anyone who commits such crimes deserves nothing less than a death sentence. It is not religion or politics – it is the right of the people of a democratic and free country to receive justice. Justice that comes liberated of agendas, elections, fundamentalism and partisan politics; justice for the common people.”
People have come out on roads and fighting back Jamat Shibir. They have come out on roads with whatever they have to fight back. This is extraordinary. Sheer brilliance. The youth has finally woken up. We have stood against Islamic extremism and for the Bangladeshi nationalism. Joy Bangla (Victory Bangla) is the magic word that has united all of the people here in Bangladesh. The movement has now gone nationwide. In every district many groups have formed unity and together they have participated in the movement. This is no longer only Dhaka based. It is now one of the biggest movements in Bangladesh since its independence.
It is extremely important to mention that Shahbag Movement is not against Islam. Patriotism is a mandate of Islam. Just as we are Muslims doesn’t mean we can visit other muslim counties without visa. Reason is country comes above all. That is what my faith Islam taught me. My faith Islam also taught me to have patience, to love. Taught me to stand beside my mother land. Jamat is anti liberation force. They killed Humayan Azad for not being an atheist but for criticizing Jamat and their motifs. The war is against Jamat! Do or die.
However how long this will continue only time can tell. But for the moment it is certain that these people are not leaving the ground with a verdict that goes for the public. Emotionally sprung movements often have no systematic conclusion. But the unity this movement formed, the courage it generated among the people, is what matters. We are much braver than what we were exactly a week back. Bangladesh has woken up.
We are Shahbag, we are Bangladesh. Hear us.