10 facts about the Bangladesh political crisis
The Jamaat-e-Islami was a staunch opponent of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan and abetted, facilitated and collaborated with Pakistani forces in murdering, raping and torturing millions of people during the nine-month Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in the year 2010 set up a war crimes tribunal to restart the process of bringing war criminals to justice. The sentences carried out against Jamaat leaders by the tribunal have led to a nationwide political crisis in Bangladesh.
1. Since December 2012, Bangladeshis started a movement demanding death for war criminals and collaborators known as ‘razakars’ and calling for a ban on the Jamaat and its student wing the Islami Chhatra Shibir.
2. A war crimes tribunal on February 4, 2013 sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami, to life in prison, instead of the expected death sentence.
3. More than thousands of protesters from all walks of life, of all ages have thronged Dhaka’s Shahbag Square since February 5 demanding death penalty for war criminals and justice for 1971. The Shahbagh Square is also known as ‘Projonmo Chottor’ or (new uprising).
4. The Shahbag protesters staged a fiery demonstration when Ahmed Rajib Haider, a 35-year-old blogger of the movement, was slain in Dhaka on February 15, 2013 by Jamaat activists for being critical of the Islamists.
5. Delawar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat, was sentenced to death by the war crimes tribunal and was convicted on February 28,2013. Since the proclamation of his death sentence, the crisis has worsened and Jamaat terror has ravaged the country.
6. The main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, an ally of the Jamaat has staged hartals of its own in which 5 people have been killed and hundreds injured. Zia’s party has blamed the Awami League Government for the ongoing political crisis in Bangladesh.
7. Jamaat-Shibir activists attacked and destroyed at least 50 temples and set fire to several Hindu houses and business in Noakhali, Gaibandha, Chittagong, Rangpur, Sylhet, Chapainawabganj and Rajganj.
8. At least 98 people have been killed and more than 200 have been injured since February 5, 2013. 19 people alone were killed by Jamaat-Shibir activists on the day when war criminal Delawar Hossain Sayedee was convicted.
9. There have been 15 shutdowns in Bangladesh since the crisis began and the nation suffered losses worth $3 billion due to the frequent shutdowns.
10. The Bangladeshi Government will pursue banning the Jamaat-e-Islami party and will take the issue up in Parliament.
Niticentral Staff is a Guest Contributor at Niti Central.