Just walked into the #Shahbagh Square; people from all walks of life have gathered here since the past three days to stage their protest.
I was absolutely flabbergasted, overwhelmed and shocked by the huge crowd that lay ahead of me. Within a minute after I had entered, I was looking at virtually thousands of faces; faces emanating a jubilant feature you normally associate with patriotism and a vision for a better world.
Yet in those faces which had come from all sorts of diverse social backgrounds—-I saw a welcome to anyone willing to join them in this fight to serve the history. I had a momentary glimpse into the future of all ordinary, middle-class, patriotic Bangladeshis like me. I saw an insight into the glorious future that awaited my country, and the huge role that I can play in order to become a part of its history.
What a crowd! #Shahbagh, the Tahrir of Dhaka
Trust me when I say this: never before in my life have I felt a love for my country so subtle yet so overwhelming. At that point in time, even if someone had told me that my country required me to jump in the deepest crevices of the Atlantic Ocean, I would have taken the leap valiantly. It was a feeling that transcends almost all other subtleties in the universe. It was a discovery. A new discovery of patriotism.
Wherever I look, I find hope. Hope for a country where its nascent generations are as patriotic as the one that liberated it from the hyenas who once upon a time enslaved the masses.
For forty 42 years our land has waited; waited patiently for a blood and passion.
In 1971, in one of the bloodiest civil wars in history, Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan at a cost of 30 million lives and the rape of around 2 million women (In fact, the war is described as one of the few in history where the Pakistani army used rape of Bengali women as a powerful tactic to not only intimidate the people, but also to subsequently create a society filled with bitter truths.). During the war, a group of Bengalis and Biharis (immigrants from Pakistan into Bangladesh), in an attempt to please their Pakistani masters, collaborated with the Pakistani Army and participated in the mass genocide and rape undertaken by the military regime. The main Bangladeshi political party that betrayed their own people to form a paramilitary group with the army was the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Shibir.
For forty years, none of those collaborators at the top had been handed down a death sentence. And moreover, they are now occupying powerful and wealthy positions in our society. How ironic for a nation! #Shahbagh
But today after all these 42 years, the soil of our land has once again cried the cry of freedom and justice. And it only took one verdict.
On 5th February, 2013 when Kader Mollah———infamously known as Mirpurer Koshai (the Butcher of Mirpur) for mass-slaughtering around 400 unarmed, innocent Bangladeshis and raping many young women in his area during the war; some with his own hands and others by direct orders to his disciples—-came out of the International Criminal Tribunal with a verdict of guilty and a lifetime imprisonment, the general public became more enraged than ever before to see the criminal’s smiling face and victory sign flashing out of all media outlets.
For 400 murders, a person gets a life sentence? Really?
And so the online community of Bangladesh, extremely angered with the judge not giving a death sentence to the accused, called for peaceful protests and demonstrations in the gigantic crossroads of Shahbagh, a bustling part of Dhaka which is almost always clogged with speedy traffic.
Although initially led by the Bangladeshi Blogger and Facebook Activists’ Group, the protest was soon joined in by thousands of ordinary people from all walks of life who were discontented with the tribunal’s verdict.
It took barely a night for Shahbagh to become the center of the people’s revolution, and to represent a new call for justice and rule of law. Traffic was halted for at least a kilometer all around Shahbagh and security was tightened throughout the area.
But the most important part about the protests was the people’s unity. Students, teachers, clerics, liberals, leftists, right-wings, people regardless of their political and religious affiliations appeared hand in hand to lead a new uprising against the traitors, mass-murderers and rapists of 1971. Everyone promised to keep political speech out of everything, and asserted that the sole purpose of occupying Shahbagh was to ignite the spirit of 1971 into all the people of the country.
It’s 2013. And our generation has now engulfed into a new war of liberation: ensuring justice for the souls who were murdered, raped and betrayed by these war criminals.
2013, 42 years after 1971, brought on a new war. A war that we, the new generation are entitled to fight.
On the third successive day of the protest, when I joined the crowd and chanted “Ekattorer haatiyaar gorje uthhuk arrekbar” (Let the weapons of 1971 be loaded once again this year) at the top of my voice, I knew that for the first time in my life, our land and our generation had a glorious future.
And I felt confident that this was where I wanted to be. That this was the city, this land of the 160 million and this vibrant vicinity was where I wanted to write the golden pages of my autobiography.
And after that day, time and again, I have strolled all the way from my home in Green Road to Shahbagh Square, recently renamed Projonmo Square (the Generation’s Square) in light of the recent events, simply to chant slogans and be a part of the crowd. I will do it tomorrow again, the day after as well, and also the day after that as long as the revolution exists and our demands for a death sentence for the mass murderers of 1971 are not met.
I will be there as long as the blood underneath my body is hot and flowing through my veins. As long as my people, my nation does not get the justice it deserves.
I will chant ‘Joy Bangla’ (Long Live Bangladesh!) with my sore throat and never get exhausted because I have a feeling that this was what I always wanted to be a part of.
I will not stop, the blood of 30 million people that courses through me will not cease because I know that we are all united as a nation regardless of our religious or political divisions.
In 2013, although I am not in a battle-field, I am the freedom fighter. The new freedom fighter vying for the long-lost justice.
I might just be a speck of light in the huge crowd of #Shahbagh, but I know I am contributing towards sth far greater than any of us can ever dream about: towards building our great nation….
- Quest for Justice, 40 years after Independence (calltohumanity.wordpress.com)
- Int’l Media Presenting Shahbag Movement in A Wrong Aspect (aisjournal.com)
- 100,000 demand ban on Bangladesh Islamic party (dailystar.com.lb)
- Bangladesh Protest Calls for Death for War Crimes (abcnews.go.com)
- Thousands in Bangladesh war crimes protest (aljazeera.com)
- Bangla Spring? (sayou.wordpress.com)
- Bangladesh to amend war crimes law amid protest (dawn.com)
- We want war criminal KADER MOLLA to be hanged till death ! (ireport.cnn.com)