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Didn’t See ’71, But This Is Our War, Students Say in Bangladesh
By Ataur Rahman
Bangladesh Correspondent
Students protest in Bangladesh.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The youth and student of Bangladesh -led Shahbagh agitation, demanding death penalty for convicted war criminals, is passing seven consecutive day today with attracting more people at the square. The agitators pledged not to leave the street until their demands were met. More people from different strata, including members of parliament, different political parties and officials of different private companies, expressed their solidarity with the protesters, mostly youth and students. The metropolitan city police today has set up thirty-two close- circuit cameras at the Shahbagh square to ensure the security of the sit-in programme.

The crowd is spreading out as huge number of people mostly students from different schools and colleges are taking part in the sit-in programme. Meanwhile, police has arrested 10 persons from the gathering when they tried to participate at the sit-in programme under the banner of Ahmadia Muslim Jamaat. Later, the Shahbagh thana police released them after interrogating for a while.

Dhaka city Awami League joint general secretary and Hazi Mohammad Selim, MP, and youth camp director of the then Agartala conspiracy case Saidur Rahman, among others, expressed their solidarity with the sit-in programme at Shahbagh square. An Internet activist body, Blogger and Online Activist Forum, rejected the verdict of the second International Crimes Tribunal that sentenced life imprisonment to Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Molla and the protests begin following the verdict on February 5.

The non-violent protests spilled to the country's most parts, where the agitators demanded execution of the war criminals through different programmes. Students in the capital want to be a part of the making of new history of Bangladesh by joining the ongoing movement at Shahbagh in demand of death penalty for all war criminals. They rush to join the crowds after classes every day, raising voices along with thousands of people there and chanting slogans demanding justice. Apart from thousands others from various walks of life, these students have been joining the demonstrations since the movement began last Tuesday demanding capital punishment for Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary General and war criminal Abdul Quader Molla, who was awarded life imprisonment for committing crimes against humanity during the War of Independence in 1971.

The school and college students were seen at Shahbagh in their uniforms, sitting on the road in circles and chanting slogans. Generally, these students visit the venue in first part of the day, but their number is increasing now with each passing day. As in the last six days, a large number of people gathered at the Shahbagh intersection since Monday morning, with the students also joining them. More and more students of various schools and colleges were seen headed for the venue in small and large groups. Fariha Tabassum, a student of Engineering University School and College, said she came to Shahbagh along with some of her friends. “I won’t be in peace if the Razakars don’t get death sentence. That’s why I came here.” At least 30 students of BAF Shahin College were seen sitting in a circle and chanting slogans on the street leading to TSC from Shahbagh in front of the florists’ shops there. They said they took ‘leave’ from the classes to join the movement. Dhanmondi Ideal College student Adnan Sakib said, “We did not see 1971. This is like the second War of Independence to us. I feel lucky to be a part of this war.” Also, students of Motijheel Ideal School and College, Habibullah Bahar College, Dhaka College, Dhaka Commerce College and many other educational institutions are also joined the demonstrators at the Shahbagh intersection since Monday morning. he protesters at Shahbagh have called upon the nation to stand up for three minutes at 4pm Tuesday to push for the execution of all war criminals. The announcement came from the "Rejuvenation Platform", the main stage of protest that turned seven-day-old on Monday.

“No matter where you are, please stand up for three minutes at 4pm on Tuesday. This is to ask for death for the war criminals,” one of the main organiser of the protest, Blogger Imran H Sarker, said.

Thousands of demonstrators welcomed the unique gesture of solidarity with a thunderous applause

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Mr. Ataur Rahman serves as Bangladesh Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He earned his Master of Commerce degree from Dhaka University in 1985. Mr. Rahman has vast journalistic experience including his stints at "The Daily Janata" and "The Dainik Bangla."






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