The Shahbag Movement Turnouts

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Shahbag Movement

The entire nation is divided into three parts: Firstly the Pro-Shahbag regime, demanding the death penalty of all the war criminals, the boycott of all products and services owned by the war criminals and furthermore, closure of all of them followed by a ban of a political party. Secondly, we have the Anti-War Criminal cult who believes the Projonmo Chottor is a hoax, all the protest is a conspiracy to eradicate Islam from this country and fighting for the survival and their mere existence. Third and lastly, the neutral people who decide not take any side rather, point out everyone’s flaws and enjoy non-paid strike holidays. Well, no one can blame the neutral party however; a lot of the claims of the other two clans are flawed. Youthsparks have seen medias being biased over the last one month and have decided to draw up a bird’s eye view over the whole situation. We do not care whose sentiment we are hitting, these facts should just go out there and remain in the open.

 

5th February, 2013 saw one of the most controversial court verdicts of this country – Abdul Kader Mollah sentenced to a lifetime in prison. This was followed by the biggest protestation in this country’s history: Shahbag Square, where people from all walks of life gradually joined in and showed their support in demanding the death penalty of Kader Mollah [ONLY death penalty and no less]. The controversy started with the exchange of information from Former Chair of the tribunal and Justice Nizamul Hoque regarding the verdict with sources in Brussels and Oxford. Regardless of that, the verdict was given based on all the evidences heard in the court. What we need to understand is this: The eye witnesses have not solidly confirmed what they witnessed. In court, they have given accounts of what they saw, either from 500meters away, or read in a book, which do not account for solid testimony. Moreover, the fallacy of the verdict stretches to points where the Justices do not reason their verdict to the public which sprung out more confusion. But leaving all this behind, without proper evidence, can we just go about and protest a decision given by the “court”? The Court is higher above than the Government itself and whatever decision is given by it, a proper democracy should abide by it – therefore, losing on the first pillar of Democracy: Accountability. Arguments for the protestation go within the line of misuse of power; they believe that if the opposition party ever wins the throne, these war-hounds will be set free. So, we end up in a partial deadlock.

 

The aforementioned mockery of democracy was followed by a fallacy of huge proportions: A Changing of constitution. What needs to be understood here is that a constitution is not child’s play that you shall change it according to your needs. It also does not matter how much the people are shouting for it in the streets. A constitution is a sole flag-bearer of a country. The concept states that all the country’s rules and regulations are dictated by a constitution – Essentially a constitution IS the country itself. Even if there is a dire need of changing it, there should be a “public referendum”, through which everyone [in this case almost everyone will vote] will vote to make a choice. A public referendum would depict the REAL picture of what the people exactly want. As we know the nation is segregated, this is where the neutral people could cast in their opinion and make a difference. So, by this move we have been violating another major pillar of democracy: Participation.

Second in the list of fallacies is the Shahbag Square. Better known as Projonmo Chottor, the message propagated from the, now, center of the metropolitan is rather confusing. The mass protestation started out demanding the death penalty of Abdul Kader Mollah, who was given life sentence based on all the evidences presented in court, on 5th February, 2012; we still do not have a clear idea on the fairness of the trials as the reasons of the verdict were not explained to public. Regardless of that, the protestation continued, headed by Blogger and Online Activists Network [BOAN]. Throughout a month-long protest campaign, we have found:

  1. Addition in demands: The center-stage at Shahbag has been piling up their lists of demand from the Government like a nagging girlfriends’ shopping list. Firstly they wanted Kader Mollah to be hanged “at any cost”. Then they wanted the death penalty of all the war criminals convicted for war crimes – that was also fair enough. Then they added the boycott, and followed by complete ban and closure, of all the companies owned by the war criminals. They over-looked the numerous amounts of employees who are working in these companies who are in no way affiliated to the war criminals, well of course the only affiliation is the sign in their pay check may be. So, we ask, what will happen to these employees? Will the Government, who is already struggling to manage the economy and create better jobs, award them automatically with new jobs so that they can feed their families? This was further followed by chants to ban Jamaat-E-Islam, Bangladesh – a political party, who we now know, have quite a good number of supporters and hence, votes in the national election. A political party’s job in a democracy is to represent a particular cult/clan/group of people; through the party, these people will speak up. Such a demand is pointing the supporters of the party as minorities, thus disadvantaging them immediately. Moreover, it is killing the opportunity of an election to have fair and proper representation, violating the final pillar of democracy: Representation; killing democracy completely.
  2. Misrepresentation of ideas: The summits every Friday saw the leaders in the center stage trying to mock the Father of The Nation in their speeches and propagating a “unifying the nation” idea against the war criminals. We do not know where the problem occurred but it seems that from the stage to the people, there are certain gates that the message pass through and in some of the gates, the message turned totally violent and anti-Islamic which, in turn, spurred an out of control faith war. From a few sources, it has been propagated that “Jamaat-Shibir” want the “ALL” the war criminals tobe brought to proper justice but even still, why the faith war? It is justified if one revolts out in the name of saving a political party, in the name of saving his voice in deciding the country’s faith, but NOT in the name of religion. We all need to remember: This is NOT a war against a religion/faith/concrete set of believes!

 

As a result, we see the murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider – blogger who went to Shahbag once or twice but for illicit writings in his blogs, Shibir leader somewhere in NSU ordered 5 students to murder him. We also see how the police and the whole media silently agrees that he should be murdered for things he wrote on his blog, for the police inspector and even the media takes it to be an “execution” rather than a “murder” or a “crime” – such an idea is helping fanatics intensify the faith war as they now have the religious edge over people; people accept the punishment was due and it has calmed a lot of politically volatile, yet neutral mentalities. All of this also resulted into a further intensifying of vandalism, taking new forms and techniques on its’ way. Now, we have communal vandalism where people of other faith, their religious sanctuaries [mandirs and pagodas] are attacked violently. We also see people directly voicing out against secularism in this country, which in turn sends a message to the non-Islamic people of the country that this land is not theirs. Adding to that, newer techniques are being experimented by scraping off rail tracks in order to cut the chords with the metropolitan, and by using kids as human shields so that the police do not fire at them – new forms of violence. All of this adds to make two conclusions as of now:

  1. In fear of a decision other than death penalty might cause more chaos in the city, the Justice decides to sentence Delwar Hossain Sayeedee a death penalty in two of the charges pressed on him, but under suspicion. Under suspicion means that the verdict was given on evidences which were not clear yet can be conclusive enough to give a punishment. But, we are talking about life and death, innocent and guilty. If one is actually guilty, there should be solid proof in the court because nothing works without solid proof, only then you shall execute someone. We, in youthsparks, find that confusing.
  2. Using this issue as a reason, the wholesalers are hiking the prices of basic commodities which are making the daily products of need go out of reach for the lower income class. Moreover, the strikes have resulted in a shutdown of corporate offices and industries which is harming the economy by thousands of dollars daily – no wonder we cannot improve.

 

Even after all of this, why do I go back to Shahbag? [Surprising, eh?] Why did Sayeedee’s death sentence amuse me? – Because I still believe the heinous crimes cannot go unpunished. I know for a fact that these convicts have been proven guilty for accounts of rape and mass murder. There might not be solid evidences but there are evidences which account them as criminals and traitors. I cannot let the murderers of my brothers and rapists of my sisters walk free ever again. If they have been convicted and proven JUST once, I cannot give a chance for them to see the light of day, to lead a good life ever again. Let there be war! Let the blood flow, let people die because of bullets and bamboo sticks, but we have to fight for it! Shut down the industries, stop the schools, halt the busses, but do it right this time. Do it in the name of the martyrs, do it in the name of the living widows, and do it in the name of our country, for this is what we are fighting for: Bangladesh – the land of Gold! Our country has seen 9 months of horror, and this country will only be pure if we it sees the due punishment in order. We not only fight for this country, we fight for an identity, an identity that will always belong to us and it is our job, to make it right – just this time.

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