Four killed in Bangladesh clashes after Islamist leader executed

DHAKA Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:04am EST

1 of 2. Police officers stand guard in front of the central jail in Dhaka December 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Biraj

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DHAKA (Reuters) - At least four people were killed in Bangladesh on Friday when supporters of Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah vented their fury at his execution for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

The decision to hang Mollah, a senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party that is a key part of the opposition coalition, drew widespread condemnation from political allies and international human rights groups.

But many citizens celebrated the first ever execution of a Bangladesh war criminal, which took place late on Thursday at the Dhaka Central Jail in the capital.

"It is a great gift to me as person, and it is consistent with the spirit of our liberation war," Selina Hossain, a writer whose family was tortured during the conflict, told Reuters.

"It is also a symbolic honour to the souls of three million martyred people."

Mollah, dubbed the "Butcher of Mirpur" in Bangladesh for his part in hundreds of killings 42 years ago, was buried in the early hours of Friday in his home village in the southern district of Faridpur.

In the latest violence, Jamaat supporters set fire to vehicles and houses, looted shops, set off crude bombs and blocked roads in several parts of the country.

Police said two Awami League activists were hacked to death in Satkhira, in the southwest, early on Friday.

One person died in clashes between police and Jamaat supporters in the southern district of Noakhali and a driver was killed after Jamaat protesters chased him down.

Mollah's execution has worsened tensions that were already running high, threatening to cripple Bangladesh's economy, notably its $22-billion garment industry.

There has been almost daily unrest in the impoverished nation of 160 million people since last month's announcement of parliamentary elections on January 5.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League are determined to go ahead with the vote, but the opposition, led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) head Begum Khaleda Zia, says it will not participate unless an interim government is installed and Hasina steps down.

Senior leaders from the Awami League and BNP-led opposition were expected to meet later on Friday for a third round of talks to break the political deadlock.

(Additional reporting and writing by Mike Collett-White)

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Comments (2)
mmmd wrote:
I’m one of the thousands of Bangladeshis watching the situation, virtually without say, afraid for the safety of us and our loved ones in a country where speaking the truth is often dangerous. We are not affiliated with any party. We believe in basic human decency and justice for all, across every social and political strata. You cannot understand Bangladesh if you do not understand us.

We believe in justice for the people wrongfully killed during the 1971 Liberation War. We seek justice for Momena, whose family was murdered during those tumultuous times. We believe that their killers should be brought to court.

We also stand for justice for opposition leaders like Abdul Qader Molla, who we believe did not receive a free and fair trial. International leaders, human rights organizations and foreign reporters alike have raised concerns about the proceedings of the tribunal, which denied the defendant the right to discredit prosecution witnesses, limited defendant witnesses to only five, and denied the chance to appeal, and employed judges whose political motivations were questionable.It served only to advance the political agenda of a select few and did not stand up to either objective analysis or international standards.

This kind of kangaroo court is not in line with the spirit of 1971, which was, after all, a struggle to eliminate social and economic injustice. We believe unfair and questionable trials will not bring about the closure that we seek, but will continue to spawn further cycles of injustice, and hamper us as a people as we try move forward.

Dec 13, 2013 8:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
BanglaFirst wrote:
Let us hope this crisis blows itself out as our garment sector, peoples lives and properties are being destroyed daily because of our vindictive dictatorial style politics of Hasina which needs to change. So we need change urgently and we cannot afford to have these two ladies ruin our lives any-more.

Dec 13, 2013 1:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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