Bangladesh Student Association members demanded justice, and it’s being served.
Nineteen students and community members gathered in front of the Student Center and then the
Communications building Sunday to demonstrate solidarity for the ongoing Shahbag Protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The goal of the mass movement in Bangladesh is for 10 accused 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War criminals to receive capital punishment. The war lasted nine months and resulted in 3 million deaths as well as 200,000
raped women and children. Abdul Quader Mollah, a Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, was sentenced Feb. 5 to life in prison.
Thousands began to protest the same day, citing the verdict was too lenient. Jamaat supporters also resisted Mollah’s verdict, though, and fought with police, which resulted in
at least four deaths. As of Monday, Bangladesh’s cabinet approved changes to war crime laws so those on trial can be executed if convicted. The change was made after pressure from the week- long mass protest.
At the demonstration Sunday, Mahbubul Khan, a graduate student in computer science and vice president
of the Bangladesh Student Association, said proper justice has not been served to the war criminals.
“As long as the government is not going to give them capital punishment and not bringing them in proper trial, the movement will be continued,” he said.
Khan said the war criminals were traitors who helped with mass killings and the execution of some Bangladesh intellectuals such as university teachers during the war against the Pakistani army.
Farhan Shahnewaz, a graduate student in computer science and general secretary of the Bangladesh Student Association, said the trial has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been deserving this for 42 years,” Shahnewaz said.
At the demonstration Sunday, attendees held up signs that stated, “It’s not over until we say it’s over” and “Shahbag we are with you.”
Lipika Arif, an SIU alumna, attended the demonstration with her husband. She said the reason it took 42 years for a trial was because of outside countries’ political pressures not to punish the war criminals.
“We are angry and not satisfied with that issue,” Arif said. “We want the right punishment.”
Shahnewaz said the university’s Bangladesh Student Association has written blogs, songs, poems and more to support the movement.
“If any people at SIU want to support this thing, it can happen,” he said. “It’s a human issue.”