Report on the situation in Bangladesh

-Tamzid Ahmed

After relentless pressure from the masses, the bourgeois courts were finally compelled to pass the death sentence on accused war criminal Sayedee . After the passage of the sentence, the people were in a celebratory mood, and Shahbag movement welcomed the verdict which was hailed as being a people’s verdict. Against this the forces of reaction led by Jamaat i Islami unleashed their wave of assaults. They claimed that Saydee was innocent and the trial was fabricated. In opposition to the verdict the party called a nationwide ‘hartal’ for two days . During that period a wave of retributive violence was unleashed against minorities and internet activists from the Shahbag movement. The violence was politically motivated and targeted the perceived support base for the present shahbag movement. The bulk of the violence took place in Shatkhira, Shirajgonj, Coxsbazar, Chitattagong shatkania, neelphamari and in the rural reaches near these cities. Nearly a hundred people were killed by the reactionary militias and in crossfire by the police.

The Jamaat is stronger in the countryside than it is in the cities where it’s base consists mostly of petty bourgeois and lumpen elements. In the countryside it has some following among poor and illiterate peasants who are more easily drawn to the islamist ideology. Soon after the trial some sections of the rural population were brainwashed into thinking that Sayedee was seen in the moon! Ironically, many believed this rumour after seeing photo shopped pictures ofSayedee on the moon and started to think of him as a godman! However, the majority of the country was against the Jamaat’s destructive actions, and there were many cases as was seen in Sylhet of villagers defending the property of hindu and buddhist minorities against the islami foes. Popular defenses here were more consistent than the state forces in securing the lives of the minorities under threat from the jamaatis. Opposition to the Jamaat’s actions included some religiousclerics/mullahs who declared Jamaat shibir to be unislamic.

The Awami league of course has shown both cowardice and inconsistency in dealing with fascistic forces in Bangladesh, and are no doubt soft on these criminal parties. But the Shahbag movement and the popular defense against violence thereafter, have shown how to deal with these forces. A very strong ground is being made in the present scenario which can lead to the abolition of islam as a state religion and the adoption of a secular constitution which was present in Bangladesh before 1975. The expulsion of the islami parties which have acted as an extension of the US-Saudi imperialist matrix has begun !

Shahbag Mass Awakening

– *( The following report has been written by our contact from Bangladesh Tamzid Ahmed )

The ongoing protests began on 5th of February . The people were out demanding death sentence for all war criminals . The war criminals were those charged with crimes against humanity during the revolutionary liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, they are popularly called ‘Rajakars’ who betrayed their motherland and sided with the US aided Pakistan army in suppressing the fight for freedom. Their methods were vile and brutal! They engaged in wanton killings of the civilian population, they would depopulate entire villages, and brutalize their victims. One very popular tactic employed by this army of reaction was to dump dead bodies in rivers to block transport of guerrilla troops through rivers. Till now, many are reported missing whose bodies have not yet been recovered. The Rajakars revelled in the rape of women and used this vile form of sexual oppression as a weapon of psychological warfare, minorities would be singled out for rape and genocide. In the course of the liberation struggle it is believed that almost 3 million were killed .

For 42 years the anger and indignation of the people of bangladesh remain dormant, but now they have risen! The present round of protests started with the judgment of Kader mollah *( popularly known as the butcher of Mirpur) which reduced his award from that of death penalty to life imprisonment. Kader Mollah was found guilty of killing 352 people in mirpur ,raping women and in three other charges .Despite the weight of his crimes, he was still given the relatively light sentence of life imprisonment. It was then that the people of Bangladesh came to the street to demand justice! At first the protests were small drawing only a few people. But as the protests continued more than hundreds of thousand of people came in and now the protests are going on a daily basis. The protestors have occupied the area of Shahbag and refuse to go to home at night. The protestors are committed to see justice achieved and won’t leave Shahbag till every last war criminal is hanged !

Some of the popular slogans at the protest rallies are : “JOY BANGLA!” (Victory to Bengal!) “AGUN JALO ” (Light the fire!) ” KADER MOLLAH TULE NEBO TOR KOLLAH ” Jamaat e islam made in pakistan “. Today is the 5th day they are protesting in the streets .. and theres no sign of their going home ! There is no one political party or organization leading this rally and from all appearances it seems to be a spontaneous rally led by the youth of Bangladesh. It is a fantastic time we are witnessing with the next generation of Bengalis are beginning to finish the revolution left unfinished by their fathers.