Friday, January 13, 2012

Islamist rampage in Bangladesh capital protesting jailing of war crimes suspect

SALEEM SAMAD

Islamists on January 12 in Bangladesh rampage in the capital’s downtown and clashed with riot police protesting imprisonment of the high profile war crimes suspect and also demanded abolition of war crimes trial.

A day after the Jamaat-e-Islami linchpin Ghulam Azam was send behind bars, the activist’s organized series of street protests in the capital and elsewhere in the upcountry. The International Crimes Tribunal, set up to try war crimes suspects has rejected Azam’s bail plea on Wednesday.

Jamaat-e-Islami linchpin Ghulam Azam has been indicted on 62 counts of crimes against humanity during the war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

The Islamist activists clashed with riot police in bullet-proof jackets in the city center. The irate activists vandalized a police vehicle, attacked police officers and snatched police weapons.

Police to quell the violence lobbed tear-gas shells and baton charged the activists. Several arrests were made.

Police officer Anwar Hossain told journalists that the situation is under control in the evening and confirmed that the pistol loaded with bullets has not been recovered.

The Islamist party a strategic partner of main opposition has demanded to scrap the war crimes trial, which they say is witch-hunting the opposition leaders who are arch political rivals of the ruling party. The government always denied such accusation of the opposition and explained that it was longstanding electoral promise to try war criminals committed 40 years ago.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com