A day after senior Islamist party leader, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was sentenced to death, clashes have erupted in Bangladesh between protesters and the security personnel.
Right after the tribunal declared Sayeedi’s verdict clashes went off between the police and Jamaat workers who also enforced a nationwide strike on Thursday leaving Bangladesh paralyzed. On Friday, fresh riots erupted between the governing party Awami League activists and the pro- Islamists in the district of Gaibandha.
Sayeedi is (now) a firebrand cleric who belongs to Jamaat-e-Islami , a social conservative Islamist political party of Bangladesh. He was sentenced to death by a special war crimes tribunal on Thursaday over charges of rape, murder and torture. Delawar Hossain Sayeedi is the third to be convicted ever since the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the case.
Abdul Kalam Azad was the first cleric to be sentence to death over eight charges of crimes against humanity and another cleric Abdul Kader Mullah was sent to prison for life earlier in February. The verdict against these three leaders has caused violent nationwide protests in Bangladesh by Jamaat-e-Islami supporters who think that the decision is biased and has nothing to do with justice.
The government rejected all accusations saying that the trial is important for the whole nation ‘to heal the wounds of the war’ that killed over three million people. The special court was set up in 2010 to investigate who was involved with Pakistani forces in 1971 to stop former East Pakistan from becoming an independent country.
But during the past few weeks, several demonstrations held by anti-Jamaat protesters were also witnessed, demanding death sentence for all the Islamist leaders who were involved in war crimes during the Bangladesh Independence War. An anti-Islamist blogger, Rajib Haider was killed on 15th February due to his key involvement in the Shahbag Protests.
The Shahbag Protests began on February 5, 2013 in Dhaka. It was initiated by anti-Islamist protesters, who demanded capital punishment for Abdul Kader Mullah and all others charged by the International Crimes Tribunal of committing crimes during the liberation war, boycott of all Jamaat institutions and permanent ban on the party itself in the country.
The recent convict, Delawar Hossain Sayeedi has been criticized for his alleged involvement, during the war of independence, with al-Badr which is a Jammu-Kashmir based Islamist militant group. Sayeedi’s critics say that he forced pro- independence Bangladeshi Hindus to convert to Islam and took away their land and property.
Right after the tribunal declared Sayeedi’s verdict clashes went off between the police and Jamaat workers who also enforced a nationwide strike on Thursday leaving Bangladesh paralyzed. On Friday, fresh riots erupted between the governing party Awami League activists and Jamaat-e-Islami in the district of Gaibandha.
Jamaat-e-Islami is notorious for its war crimes and conspiring with then West Pakistan to stop the independence which was yearned by a majority of Bengali Hindus and some Muslims. Now that the trials are being conducted, anti-Islamist Bangladeshis want all responsible people to be sentenced to death while pro-Islamists want the opposite. The difference in political opinion has lead to these clashes which have now claimed almost 52 lives.