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The oath

Imran H Sarker, convener of the Bloggers and Online Activists Network, in his speech yesterday afternoon conducted the following oath at Shahbagh:
"We swear an oath that the leadership of mass people from the Gonojagaran Mancha will continue the movement from Teknaf to Tetulia until capital punishment is handed down on those Razakar and Al-Badr members who committed crimes against humanity like mass killing and rape in 1971.
"We take the oath that we will remain vocal both on the streets and online until politics of war criminal Jamaat-Shibir is not banned and nationality of their members not cancelled.
"We further take the oath that we will continue demonstration demanding trial under a special tribunal of those Razakars and Al-Badr activists who were convicted and under trial but freed after 1975.
"We swear that we will boycott the war criminals' business entities -- Islami Bank, Ibn Sina, Focus, Retina and different other coaching centres. We know through these they collect money to continue with anti-liberation activities.
"We will also boycott the academic and cultural organisations through which they are spreading anti-liberation sentiments among the children. In brief, we will work for banning all the business, social and cultural organisations belonging to Razakars and Al-Badr activists.
"We swear that we will continue with our demand of stringent punishment to Jamaat and Shibir, who have committed crimes of sedation by threatening with a civil war, after making their immediate arrest by recognising them through video footages and newspaper pictures.
"We swear that we will boycott war criminals' mass media like Diganta TV, daily Naya Diganta, daily Amardesh, daily Sangram, Sonar Bangla Blog, etc.
“We will not subscribe to newspapers of war criminals at any office or house. At the same time, we will request the pro-liberation mass media to boycott war criminals and their accomplices."

Demand for victims' right to appeal

The capital's Shahbagh took a different look yesterday. The surrounding buildings, billboards, lampposts, trees on central reservations and even the tarmac became the means of expressing people's demands.
“Rights to appeal. Why victim's rights to be denied?” a group of youths wrote on the street in white paint and flowers. The simple two sentences were enough to share their agony with the mass.
Banners, placards, graffiti and paintings demonstrated other popular demands that were also chanted by tens of thousands of protesters at the square for the last four days.

Their grievances were against the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, which kept very little right for the victims to appeal against a verdict of the tribunal as well as against the government. It was not amended to ensure this right for the war crime victims of 1971.
As per section 21 (1) of the act, “A person convicted of any crime specified in section 3 and sentenced by a tribunal shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh against such conviction and sentence.”

But section 21 (2) of the act says, “The government [which represents the victims in the war crimes trial] shall have the right of appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh against an order of acquittal.”
Hasib Nomanee, an independent filmmaker and a member of the group, said, “It's unfair and injustice.”
The victim should have equal rights to appeal against any verdict of the tribunal, said Nomanee and demanded that the government amends the act to give equal rights by incorporating the words “or inadequacy of sentence” in section 21 (2) in the ongoing session.
"We were the victims in 1971 as our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters were killed. Now we are again becoming the victim… of inadequate laws," he said.
A festoon hanging from a tree on the central reservation was demanding the legal rights to try Jamaat-e-Islami at the tribunal as a party as the party as whole was involved in crimes against humanity and genocide.

“Trial of Jamaat to be held as a war criminal organisation -- Jamaat is Nazi of Bangla,” a poster read.
Currently, there is no provision under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, to try any organisation or party at the tribunal.
The tribunal in its recently delivered verdict against Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah said, "The act of 1973 remains silent as regards responsibility of any 'organisation' for the atrocities committed in the territory of Bangladesh in 1971 war of liberation.”
Hafiz Asad Ankon, a freelance photographer, said Jamaat must be tried as a war criminal organisation for committing crimes during the Liberation War.

“The government should amend the law, if necessary, to bring Jamaat under trail as a party,” he added.
According to documents, at the historic Nuremberg Tribunal in Germany, which was formed for trying Nazi war criminals of World War II, trials of seven Nazi organisations were held alongside 21 individuals.
A festoon at the rally demanded ban on Jamaat-e-Islami after trying the party at the tribunal.
A six-year-old girl had a placard hung from her neck which read, “I don't want to grow up in a society with Razakars.”
A group of youths were carrying a coffin and chanting, “The coffin is ready… [we] want the body. Hang the Razakars.”
Vice-Chancellor Prof Anwar Hossain of Jahangirnagar University at the rally said the parliament needs to pass a law that ensures the right of the victims of atrocities committed in 1971 to appeal. He said it seemed to him that the suspects were enjoying the right which the victims did not have.
A festoon at the rally read, “We don't want tax-payers' money spent on keeping razakars in jail.”

Youths rekindle spirit of '71

Tens of thousands of people raise voice against religion-based politics, demand capital punishment to war criminals, vow to boycott Jamaat-Shibir 

Shahbagh intersection made history yesterday where the nation witnessed its recent memory's biggest crowd that gathered to demand capital punishment to all the war criminals, including Quader Mollah.
There were men and women, boys and girls, young and old -- tens of thousands of them -- from all walks of life who turned the few square kilometres area into a human sea.
Since early morning, people started flocking the intersection first in their hundreds then in thousands, carrying national flags, banners and placards for the 3:00pm mass rally. By then, the crowd stretched as far as the eye can see.
From Matsya Bhaban in the south to Kataban intersection in the north and from Hotel Ruposhi Bangla intersection in the east to TSC in the west, the crowd spilled everywhere. The participation of young generation was overwhelming.
Through various slogans, they made their demand for death sentence to all the war criminals loud and clear registered their determination to resist Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir.
It was the fourth day of the non-stop protest, which began just hours after a war crimes tribunal on Tuesday sentenced Jamaat leader Quader Mollah to life term in prison for his crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 Liberation War.
The movement was launched by Bloggers and Online Activist Network, but it soon transformed into a mass movement.
Demonstrators have been saying a life term for Mollah was too lenient; they demand death sentence for him.
Protestors have kept the interaction under their occupation since Tuesday afternoon, with several hundreds of them staying overnights without sleep.
From yesterday's rally, people took an oath to continue the movement until their demand is met. In addition to capital punishment to all the war criminals, the demonstrators called for banning Jamaat and its student wing Shibir.
They also pledged to boycott all businesses, banks, media outlets and social and cultural organisations owned by Jamaat leaders.
“We pledge to keep on demanding trial under a special tribunal of those Razakars and Al-Badrs who were convicted and were under trial but freed after 1975," said Imran H Sarkar, administering the oath from a makeshift stage erected atop a truck at the intersection.
Imran, convenor of Bloggers and Online Activist Network, is one of the initiators of the movement.
"We pledge that we will continue our movement from Teknaf to Tetulia under the leadership of general people until highest punishment is given to Razakars-Al-Badrs who committed crimes against humanity like genocide and rape in 1971," protestors read after Imran.
The mass rally began with the recitation of a poem and rendering of the National Anthem.
"This is another 1971," said Mili Rahman, widow of Birshrestha Matiur Rahman.
"Today we are united in our single demand. We freed the country in 1971 and today you will free it once again from Razakars and Jamaat-Shibir…. None can hold us back," she said.
Noted writer Prof Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said, "I am here to offer my apology to you. I wrote in newspapers that the new generation only hits 'like' on Facebook and writes on blogs, but does not take to the streets. You have proved me wrong, and I thank you all for this."
"The year 2013 has turned into 1971 and those of you who did not see 1971 are now witnessing '71 in the year of 2013," he added.
"Study when it's time to study, write poems when it's time to write poems, listen to music when it's time to listen to music … and take to the streets when you need to. It is the happiest day of my life. All the martyrs and the country people are thankful to you," he said.
Journalist Kamal Lohani said the entire country heard the roars of the mass people. "The only punishment to the war criminals, not only Quader but to all, is capital punishment. Besides, their politics will also have to be banned."


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