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Sentencing Jamaat-e-Islami members & leaders for crimes committed during the 1971 independence war

TV cleric sentenced to death for murder of six Hindus and rape of Hindu women

A court in Bangladesh has sentenced a well-known Muslim cleric to death for crimes against humanity during the country's 1971 independence war.

Abul Kalam Azad's conviction is the first verdict handed down by the controversial tribunal.

The cleric, a presenter of Islamic programmes on television, shot dead six Hindus and raped Hindu women during the war, prosecutors said.

He is thought to be in Pakistan and was found guilty in absentia.

BBC Bengali editor Sabir Mustafa says the verdict is being seen as a triumph for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has made prosecuting war crimes a key goal of her government.
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Mr Azad was a junior leader in the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in 1971 and a member of the Razakar Bahini, an auxiliary force set up to help the Pakistani army by rooting out local resistance.

The Razakars were notorious for their operations targeting Hindus as well as civilians suspected of being sympathetic towards Bengali nationalists.

The International Crimes Tribunal was set up by the Awami League-led government to try those Bangladeshis accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan (as Bangladesh was then) from becoming an independent country.

Those charged include a number of senior Jamaat leaders and a former minister from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

All of the people currently indicted by the tribunal deny the charges and opposition leaders accuse the government of carrying out a political vendetta.

Bangladesh government figures estimate more than three million people were killed during the independence war, although some researchers put the figure at between 300,000 and 500,000.

Court sentences senior Jamaat-e-Islami member to life in prison for crimes against humanity

Abdul Quader Molla, 64, the fourth highest ranked leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, is the first politician to be found guilty by the International Crimes Tribunal, a much-criticised domestic court based in Dhaka.

Molla cried “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) and said all the charges were false after the presiding judge Obaidul Hassan delivered the verdict in a crowded court, blanketed with heavy security.

The judgement sparked protests by Jamaat, the country’s largest Islamic party which enforced a nationwide strike Tuesday in anticipation of the conviction. It warned it would resist “at any cost a government blueprint” to execute its leaders.

“He deserved death sentence because of the gravity of the crimes. But the judge gave him life imprisonment,” Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said, adding Molla “had directly participated” in the killing of more than 350 people near Dhaka.

The verdict is the second to have been handed down by the tribunal. On January 21 a top TV preacher, an ex-Jamaat official, was sentenced to death in absentia for murder and genocide.

The judge in Molla’s case refused a prosecution bid to try him for genocide.

Molla’s lawyer Nazim Momen said they would appeal the verdict as it was “politically motivated”.

Ten other opposition figures — including the entire leadership of Jamaat and two from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) — stand accused of war crimes...

Violence after sentences giving out for crimes committed during the 1971 Independence war

Violence erupts after senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader sentenced to death on charges including murder, torture and rape

A tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to death for crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence.

The Jamaat-e-Islami chief was found guilty of charges including murder, torture and rape. He is the most senior figure convicted so far.

The verdict was cheered by his opponents but set off protests in which at least 30 people were killed.

Critics said the charges were politically motivated.

Lawyers for Sayeedi say they plan to appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party rejects the tribunal and staged a strike on Thursday in protest. After the verdict was announced it called a further two-day stoppage for Sunday and Monday.

Thousands of police have been deployed in Dhaka to maintain security.

As well as the 30 killed, at least 300 people were injured in clashes between police and Jamaat supporters across the country, police told the Reuters news agency.

Jamaat was opposed to Bangladeshi independence but denies any role in war crimes committed by pro-Pakistan militias.

Official estimates say more than three million people were killed in the war.
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The verdict is the third issued by the controversial tribunal, which is trying a total of nine Jamaat leaders and two members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Sayeedi was accused of working with the Al-Badr group during the independence struggle and carrying out numerous atrocities, including forcibly converting Hindus to Islam.

His critics say that during the war he formed a small group to loot and seize the property of Bengali Hindus and those who supported independence.

The tribunal found Sayeedi guilty of eight out of the 20 charges levelled against him. These were murder, torture, rape and forcibly converting Hindus to Islam.

State prosecutor Syed Haider Ali described the verdict as a "victory for the people", AFP reports. But in court Mr Sayeedi protested, blaming the judgement on the influence of bloggers and pro-government forces.

Earlier this month another Jamaat leader, Abdul Kader Mullah, was sentenced to life for crimes against humanity. Huge crowds have been demanding he be executed.

In January, former party leader Abul Kalam Azad was found guilty in absentia of eight charges of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death...
Updates:
Violence continued unabated in Bangladesh on Friday as at least 46 people were killed in clashes that erupted after a top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was handed down death penalty for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 liberation war.
Scores of homes have been set on fire, women and girls have been assaulted, temples have been desecrated and statues of the goddess Kali have been destroyed...
Acts of violence, especially against Bangladesh's Hindu minority, and strikes (hartal) continue across the country as Jamaat-e-Islami supporters call for reunification with Pakistan, and the creation of a "pure" state, free of its non-Muslim population...
Muslim mobs still rampaging after sentencing of Jamaat-e-Islami leader, minority Hindu and Buddhist communities bore the brunt of the attacks as their houses and temples were vandalised and burnt down.
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Hindu community leaders allege that the attacks were co-ordinated and widespread. So far, they say, more than 50 temples have been damaged and more than 1,500 houses destroyed in the attacks, which took place in nearly 20 districts over the last few weeks...
85 dead, 700 Hindu homes and 47 temples destroyed as violence over Jamaat-e-Islami leader's sentencing continues
The imam of one of the holiest sites for Muslims, Mecca, has criticized the decision to hang Jamat-i-Islami leader for his role of killing and raping in 1971
In a fresh attack on Hindus in Bangladesh, at least 15 people, including a freedom fighter and three women were beaten up in a hate attack in in Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat on Friday night. In another incident, Islamists vandalised four idols by setting fire to a temple in Sadar upazila of Gazipur district on Friday...
Meanwhile, clashes between police and supporters of the country's biggest Islamic party left five dead on Friday during protests linked to ongoing war crimes trials, police and media said.
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With the latest deaths, 94 people have now been killed in clashes linked to the trials since the war crimes court handed down the first of its verdicts in January over atrocities during Bangladesh's independence struggle from Pakistan...
At least four policemen were injured, one critically, and a firearms and a walky-talky were snatched from them when Islami Chhatra Shibir men clashed with law enforcers in Rajshahi city Monday morning.

One of the injured, Jahangir Alam, in-charge of Upashahar police camp, sustained critical injuries as Shibir men thrashed his head with bricks and hurled homemade bombs, said SM Moniruzzaman, commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP).

The 30-minute clash ensued around 10:30am when Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, brought out a procession from Shalbagan area and faced police resistance.

More than 300 Shibir men divided into two groups carried out the attack on police, leaving the four injured, said the RMP commissioner.

The three other injured constables are: Shafiqul Islam, Latifur Haider and Jakir Hossain. All the injured are the members of riot police...
Shibir men attack cops in Rajshahi again
The Daily Star, April 01, 2013
Thirty-four people including the local Union Parishad Chairman were arrested in raids through Chittagong's Fatickchharhi Upazila until Friday morning over the clashes that took place in the area.

Three people had died and at least 50 received injuries in the clashes on Thursday afternoon when a local mosque - in Bhujpur area's Kazir Haat area of the Upazila - broadcast calls for attack on an anti-shutdown procession of the ruling Awami League.
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The Islami Chhatra Shibir, student affiliate of the Jamaat-e-Islami, had called the Thursday's shutdown demanding release of their central President Delwar Hussen.
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At least 15 motorcycles and two jeeps were set ablaze at scene, police said.

Two people were killed on the spot and at least 50 others, including policemen, were injured. Another succumbed to injuries at the CMCH.
Fatickchharhi violence: 34 held
BD News 24, April 12, 2013
The delegation from the WCC, a church grouping representing more than 500 million Christians, heard how minorities fear for their survival.

"[Religious minorities] are the main target of endangering Bangladesh to become a 'zero minority country' in future at the behest of the extremist groups," they were quoted as saying in a WCC report.

Thus far, Buddhists and Hindus have been hit the hardest by the new wave of violence; nearly 90 Buddhist and Hindu places of worship have been attacked.

However, Rev. David Anirudh Dass, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Bangladesh, said Christians still face a particular danger.

"Although Christians in the country have been spared from attacks this time," he told the WCC, "they are still more vulnerable than Hindus or Buddhists for being the only microscopic minority likely to face stark eventualities."...

Crackdown on "blasphemous" atheist bloggers widens after threats by Muslims

Bangladesh has widened a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by Islamists to march to the capital demanding the prosecution of atheist bloggers, an official said Wednesday.

The telecommunications regulator ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan.

"These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The two sites -- Somewhereinblog.net and Amarblog.com -- have removed most of the posts," Khan said.

Update:

Tens of thousands of Islamic activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of 'atheist bloggers who insulted Islam' and to pass laws punishing those who 'insulted Islam in the parliament'.

They have announced plans to 'lay siege' to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met.

They include the restoration of the phrase 'absolute trust and faith upon Almighty Allah' in basic principles of the constitution; passing laws to punish atheists; holding of national elections under an impartial government; ensuring good governance and justice, uprooting terrorism and corruption; and establishing Islamic rule for a prosperous and welfare state.

According to www.thedailystar.net, the party's Amir Mufti Syed Muhammad Rezaul Karimalso told the rally: 'The incumbent and previous governments have nurtured corruption, violence, nepotism and other different evil practices during last few decades.

'Islami Andolan Bangladesh should be voted to power to get rid of this situation.'...
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today pledged stern action against people found guilty of defaming Islam using the internet as right-wing Islamic parties threatened to wage an intensified street campaign against "atheist bloggers".

"You (Islamic parties) do not need to go for any movement. As a Muslim, I have the responsibility to take action," Hasina said at a party meeting of her ruling Awami League, this evening.

She added, "We have already decided what action to be taken against those responsible for (internet posts and blogs) hurting people's religious sentiments."

The premier's comments came days after newly-emerged Hefazat-e-Islam announced a long march towards the capital Dhaka on April 6 to protest against "atheist internet bloggers"...
Three atheist bloggers in Bangladesh were today arrested here on charges of defaming Islam, as the government set up the country's first cyber crime tribunal to prevent exploitation of religion on the Internet.

The crackdown as well as the announcement came two days after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged stern action against people found guilty of defaming Islam using the Internet.

"We are amending both the Right to Information Act and the Penal Code toughening punitive measures for hurting the people's religious sentiments," Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed told a press conference also joined by Home Minister Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir and two state ministers.
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The trio, who were paraded in hand-cuffs at today's press conference, could face 10 years in jail if convicted under the country's cyber laws, which outlaw "defaming" a religion, deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Molla Nazrul Islam said...
Thousands of Islamist protesters marched the streets of Bangladesh’s capital, calling for the death penalty for bloggers who insult Islam. The city ground to a halt as demonstrators demanded the government change the law to punish blasphemers.

The activists gathered in their thousands at Dhaka’s commercial hub on Friday night in protest over blasphemous bloggers who offend Islamist sensibilities on social networks. In a demonstration that lasted well into Saturday, they urged the government to introduce a new law with the provision of the death penalty for those who defame Islam.

As the protesters advanced they chanted: "God is great, hang the atheist bloggers!”
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Dhaka police put the number of demonstrators at around 100,000, while the event’s organizers said the protests drew more than half a million Muslims. The so-called ‘long march’ brought people from remote villages to participate...
A few lakh Islamists gathered at Motijheel in the capital yesterday and gave the government three weeks’ time to meet their demands, which include a law allowing for the death penalty for maligning Islam and stern punishment to those they call atheist bloggers.

Otherwise, they threatened, they would lay siege to the capital on May 5.

Assembled under the banner of Hefajat-e Islam, the Islamists also called a daylong hartal for tomorrow in protest at the “government efforts” to obstruct their long march.
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Hefajat-e Islam Demands

1. Reinstate the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy

2. Enact a law providing for capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and smear campaigns against Muslims

3. Stop all propaganda and “derogatory comments” about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by the “atheist leaders” of the Shahbagh movement, bloggers and other anti-Islamists; arrest them and ensure stern punishment to them

4. Stop attacking, shooting, killing and persecuting the Prophet-loving Islamic scholars, madrasa students and people united by belief in Allah

5. Release all arrested Islamic scholars and madrasa students6. Lift restrictions on mosques and remove obstacles to the holding of religious programmes

7. Declare “Qadianis” non-Muslim and call a halt to their publicity and conspiracies

8. Stop foreign cultural intrusions including free-mingling of men and women and candlelit vigils, and put an end to adultery, injustice, shamelessness, etc. in the name of freedom of expression and conscience

9. Stop turning Dhaka, the city of mosques, into a city of idols, and stop setting up sculptures at intersections, colleges and universities

10. Scrap anti-Islam women policy and education policy and make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels

11. Stop threatening and intimidating teachers and students of Qawmi madrasas, Islamic scholars, imams and khatibs

12. Stop propagating hatred among the younger generation of Muslims by misrepresentation of Islamic culture in the media

13. Stop anti-Islam activities by NGOs, evil attempts by Qadianis and conversions by Christian missionaries in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in the country
Govt given three weeks
Daily Star, April 7, 2013
As part of their push for a change in the law, the Hefajat-e-Islam group on Monday forced the closure of schools and businesses and barricaded inter-city motorways and railways across the country in a general strike.

Police said at least 30 people were injured in clashes between pro-government activists and Islamists, already infuriated by the recent convictions of leading opposition figures for war crimes.

But Sheikh Hasina, who has been leading a secular government in the Muslim-majority country since 2009, said existing laws were adequate to prosecute anyone accused of insulting a religion.

“Actually, we don’t have any plan to (bring in a new law). We don’t need it,” Hasina told the BBC in an interview broadcast Monday.

“They should know that existing laws are enough,” she added, before stressing that “this country is a secular democracy”...