Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Students in war crime trial protest

Bangladeshis demand death to Islamic political party leaders on trial for alleged war crimes during the country's 1971 independence war (AP/Pavel Rahman)

Thousands of students attended a rally in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on Saturday demanding death for Islamic political party leaders who are on trial for alleged war crimes during the country's 1971 independence war.

Eight leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party, are being tried on charges of mass killings, rapes and arson allegedly committed during Bangladesh's nine-month war of separation from Pakistan.

Earlier this month, a tribunal convicted party leader Abdul Quader Mollah of mass killings during the war and sentenced him to life in prison, a sentence many Bangladeshis considered lenient.

On Saturday around 5,000 students shouted "death to the killers" during the protest.

The government will appeal against Mollah's sentence in the Supreme Court this week, asking for the death penalty for the 65-year-old.

Saturday's rally came a day after activists from Jamaat and an alliance of 12 other Islamic parties clashed with police across the country, leaving four people dead and around 200 injured.

After Friday's violence, the Islamic party alliance called a nationwide general strike for today, accusing the police of foiling their protests and alleging the government is planning to ban religion-based political parties.

The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, said it would back the strike.

Sunday is a working day in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where strikes are common opposition tactics to highlight demands.

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