- Global Voices - http://globalvoicesonline.org -

Bangladeshi Women Join Shahbag Protests in Remarkable Numbers

Written by পান্থ রহমান রেজা (Pantha) · Translated by Rezwan On 11 February 2013 @ 13:30 pm | 12 Comments

In Bangla, Bangladesh, Citizen Media, Feature, History, Human Rights, Photos, Protest, Weblog, Women & Gender, Youth

It is not only Bangladeshi men who are occupying the capital city Dhaka's Shahbag [1] intersection demanding capital punishment for war criminals [2].

The protests have seen extraordinary participation by women. Students, working professionals, and mothers accompanied by their young children have all lent their voice to the Shahbag protests, a movement spearheaded by bloggers and online activists which is seeking the death penalty for those who committed crimes against humanity during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 [3].

An estimated 200,000 to 3 million people [4] were killed by the Pakistani army and approximately 250,000 women were raped during the war. Local political and religious militia groups such as Razakar [5]Al Badr [6], and Al-Shams [7], many of whom were also members of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami, aided Pakistani soldiers in killing, particularly targeting Hindus.

The International Crimes Tribunal [8] was formed 42 years after the war to bring perpetrators of these terrible wartime crimes to justice. The tribunal's first verdicts were handed down against Abul Kalam Azad, known as “Bachchu Razakar”, who was sentenced to death [9] late last month, and Abdul Quader Mollah [10], known as “Butcher” to the Bengalis in the outskirts of Dhaka, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder, rape, torture, and other crimes.

People have taken to the streets demanding that Mollah and other war criminals be put to death, fearing that if they are imprisoned, they may be released after a regime change.

The engagement of women and children in these protests is remarkable. Mahabub Bhuiyan [11] [bn] wrote on Somewherein blog:

মায়ের কোলে কিংবা বাবার হাত ধরে চলে আসছে শিশুরাও। গৃহবধূরাও আজ রাজপথে নেমে গেছেন। বৃদ্ধ-বৃদ্ধারা এই তারুণ্যেও মিছিলে পা ফেলছেন যৌবনের বীর্যে বলীয়ান হয়ে।

Children came in their mother's lap or holding the hand of their father. Many housewives are seen on the streets. Senior citizens also walked with youth for the cause.

Pavel Mohitul Alam [12] [bn] wrote on Facebook about how some female college students have shown solidarity with the protests:

ভিকারুননিসার একদল মেয়ে এসেছিলো আজ সংহতি প্রকাশ করতে। তাদের মধ্যে কারো কারো আবার পরীক্ষা। পরীক্ষার পড়ার জন্য আন্দোলন কিংবা আন্দোলনের জন্য পড়া– কোনোটাই বাদ দেয়নি তারা। প্রজন্ম চত্বরেই তারা বসে পড়ে বই-খাতা নিয়ে। চলে পড়াশোনা, সেই সংগে চলে শ্লোগানও।

Some students of Viqarunnisa College came to show solidarity. Some of them had exams imminent. They did not let any one go, they engaged in sit-in protest and opened their book to study. They studied and shouted slogans intermittently.

Writer and journalist Abu Hasan Shahriar [13] [bn] shared in a Facebook status his experience visiting the Shahbag protests on the second day:

রাত তখন দেড়টার বেশি। এক কিশোরীকে দেখলাম, মায়ের হাত ধরে প্রজন্ম চত্বরের দিকে এগিয়ে আসছে। মাইক থেকে ‘কাদের মোল্লার ফাঁসি চাই’ স্লোগান ভেসে আসতেই কিশোরীটি সমবেত জনতার সঙ্গে গলা মিলিয়ে বলছে– ‘ফাঁসি চাই ফাঁসি চাই’।

It was 1:30 at night. I saw a young girl walking towards the square holding her mother's hand. There were slogans from the speaker, “We want capital punishment for Kader Mollah”, and the girl would join in, “we want.. we want..”

Below are some photographs of women and children who joined the protests. The images are from International Crime Strategy Forum's album “‘Shahbag Square’ Uprising: Justice for the Victims of '71 [14]” and have been used with permission.

Writer and Blogger Monika Rashid [20] [bn] had never shouted a protest slogan until the Shahbag protests. She wrote about the experience in a Facebook status:

আমি কখনো মিছিলে গিয়ে স্লোগান দিয়েছি বলে মনে পড়ে না! কিন্তু শাহবাগ চত্তরের এই উত্তাল সময়ে চীৎকার করে স্লোগান দিতে কী যে অসাধারণ আনন্দ, তা বুঝিয়ে বলার ক্ষমতা রাখিনা। আজ আবার যাবো, স্লোগানও দেব

I don't remember shouting a slogan, ever. But I cannot express what fun it is in this crucial moment in Shahbag. I will come again today and shout slogans.

Blogger Lina Fardows [21] [bn] also wanted to come to Shahbag to join the candlelight procession:

আজ রাত ১০টার পর শাহবাগ থাকবো। :) মোমের আলোয় পুড়িয়ে ফেলতে চাই ব্যর্থ প্রাণের আবর্জনা…

Tonight I will come to Shahbag after 10PM. :) I want to burn away all of life's ills with a candle flame.

Banker and blogger Nazmus Nupur [22] [bn] came to Shahbag in the hopes of creating a Bangladesh free of the religious militia Razakar for her child. She also raised her voice and wrote on Facebook:

সারাদিন গলা ফাটিয়ে শ্লোগান দেয়ার সময় একবারো গলা কাঁপেনি, মনে হয়নি জীবনে প্রথম গলা ফাটাচ্ছি। ৭১-এ বাপ মা পথে নেমেছে, আজ আমরা নামলাম, জয় আমাদের হবেই। আমার সন্তানকে আমি রাজাকার মুক্ত বাংলাদেশ দিতে চাই। জয় বাংলা।

Shouting slogans all day didn't crack my voice. It did not seem like I am doing it for the first time. In 1971, my parents came to the streets, today we came, victory will be ours. I want to give my child a Razakar-free Bangladesh. Joy Bangla.

Facebook user Zeenat Zoardar Ripa [23] [bn] wrote:

কোন এক সময়ে, নিজের সন্তানকে নিয়ে শাহবাগের রাস্তা দিয়ে যখন যাব তখন বলতে পারব- এই পথে নেমেছিলো তোর মা। রাজাকারের ফাঁসির দাবিতে।

One day I will come with my child to Shahbag and will tell him or her – this is the street where your mother protested, demanding capital punishment for Razakars.

In Shahbag, many girls have led youth protests, one of them being Lucky Akter. Her powerful slogans have mesmerized the crowd, but cohorts of the Islamist party Jamaat-Shibir, to which the war criminals belong, are spreading ill things about her on Facebook. She wrote in a Facebook [24] [bn] status:

যারা আমাদের নামে কুৎসা রটনা করেছেন। তাদের উদ্দেশ্যে বলছি, দেখুন আমরা যারা রাজপথে নেমেছি তারা কোন ধর্মের বিপক্ষে নই। তাই মাদ্রাসার ছাত্ররাও এই আন্দোলনে অংশ নিচ্ছে। ধর্ম যার যার, রাষ্ট্র সবার। জামাত শিবিরের ধর্ম ব্যাবসার রাজনীতি আইন করে বন্ধ করতে হবে।

Those who are speaking ill about me, please listen. We have taken the street not to protest against any religion. Even Madrassa students are joining the protests. Religions are for individuals, but the state is for everybody. We have to shut down Jamaat-Shibir's politics of religion.

Ekramul Haque Emon [25] saluted the women protesters in Shahbag:

শাহবাগে সপরিবারে যারা যোগ দিয়েছেন তাদের লক্ষ কোটি স্যালুট, স্যালুট ওইসব অবুঝ শিশুদের যারা ভালভাবে ‘মা’ উচ্চারণ শেখার আগেই ‘তুই রাজাকার তুই রাজাকার‘ কিংবা ‘ফাঁসী চাই, ফাঁসী চাই’ গর্জনে নিজের কান তাতাল দিয়ে গেঁথে নিচ্ছে। স্যালুট সেইসব নারীদের, যারা দিনভর অফিসের কাজ ও সাংসারিক ঝামেলা মিটিয়ে রাতে যোগ দিচ্ছেন। আপনাদের প্রাণবন্ত উপস্থিতি ও চিৎকার আমাদের শক্তি ও সাহস তরান্বিত করছে প্রতিনিয়ত।

Those who joined in the Shahbag protests, I salute them a thousand times. I salute those children who are shouting slogans with their mother. I salute those women who are working in the office all day and going to the protests in the evening after taking care of the family. Your presence and eloquence have increased our strength and courage.


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/02/11/bangladeshi-women-join-shahbag-protests-in-remarkable-numbers/

URLs in this post:

[1] Shahbag: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahbag

[2] demanding capital punishment for war criminals: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/02/07/bangladesh-protesters-demand-capital-punishment-for-1971-war-criminals/

[3] Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_Liberation_War

[4] 200,000 to 3 million people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh_genocide

[5] Razakar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razakars_(Bangladesh)

[6] Al Badr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Badr_(East_Pakistan)

[7] Al-Shams: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shams_(Bangladesh)

[8] The International Crimes Tribunal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Crimes_Tribunal_(Bangladesh)

[9] sentenced to death: http://www.banglanews24.com/English/detailsnews.php?nssl=59396f7414f89991d14c6fa956924bc1&nttl=2013012162452

[10] Abdul Quader Mollah: http://bd71.blogspot.com/2007/12/abdul-kader-mollah.html

[11] Mahabub Bhuiyan: http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/mabblogging/29764987

[12] Pavel Mohitul Alam: http://www.facebook.com/pavel.hottogoal

[13] Abu Hasan Shahriar: http://www.facebook.com/abu.h.shahriar/posts/10151267668302742

[14] ‘Shahbag Square’ Uprising: Justice for the Victims of '71: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.485212154869703.113646.108286975895558&type=3

[15] Image: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=485433371514248&set=a.485212154869703.113646.108286975895558&type=3&src=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-ash3%2F843918_485433371514248_749239387_o.jpg&smallsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fsphot

[16] Child sitting on her father's shoulders. Photo by Kamrul Hasan: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=485481221509463&set=a.485212154869703.113646.108286975895558&type=3&src=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-b.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-ash3%2F841270_485481221509463_679766905_o.jpg&smallsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-b.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-ash3%2F163331_485481221509463_679766905_n.jpg&size=2048%2C1375

[17] Protesting in Shahbag. Photo by Mehedi Hasan Khan: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=486249001432685&set=a.485212154869703.113646.108286975895558&type=3&src=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn1%2F857120_486249001432685_2001142771_o.jpg&smallsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-a.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-snc6%2F223447_486249001432685_2001142771_n.jpg&size=1500%2C1000

[18] Signatures demanding capital punishment. Photo by Mehedi Hasan Khan: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=486270728097179&set=a.485212154869703.113646.108286975895558&type=3&src=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn1%2F859444_486270728097179_1181795607_o.jpg&smallsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fsphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ak-snc7%2F600807_486270728097179_1181795607_n.jpg&size=1500%2C992

[19] Shahbag's fiery leader Lucky Akter. Sketch by Artist Sujan Chowdhury: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=416387158447377&set=a.414995411919885.98426.414969041922522&type=1&relevant_count=1

[20] Monika Rashid: http://www.facebook.com/monikarashid

[21] Lina Fardows: http://www.facebook.com/lina.fardows

[22] Nazmus Nupur: http://www.facebook.com/nazmush.nupur

[23] Zeenat Zoardar Ripa: http://www.facebook.com/zeenatripa7

[24] wrote in a Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/luckyakterbristy/posts/410211249073319

[25] Ekramul Haque Emon: http://www.facebook.com/OneNonlyemon

Licensed Creative Commons Attribution, 2008 Global Voices Online. See attribution policy for details: http://globalvoicesonline.org/about/global-voices-attribution-policy