Friday, March 1, 2013

Bangladesh Protesters Seek Death Penalty
Jack Zimmermann
Bangladesh Protesters Seek Death Penalty

This article concerns an ongoing story currently occurring in Bangladesh. Protesters of various backgrounds and political backgrounds are congregating at rallies pushing for the death penalty to old Bangladeshi war criminals. The Bangladeshi genocide, which occurred in 1971, led to the death of up to 3 million (numbers vary) people. The grievous crimes committed in this nine-month war went unpunished for years before the International Crimes Tribunal was established. The life-long prison sentences that have been imposed as punishment thus far do not satisfy the masses; nothing short of the death penalty will appease the masses at the rallies. What is interesting to me in this situation is that the majority, or at the very least the leaders, of these rallies are led by a younger generation spreading their words and beliefs through social media. These leaders of Shahbagh, who had either not been born or were very young during the genocide, seek a change in the image of the nation in addition to the death penalty for the war criminals. I like that this movement has opened up the discussion to a variety of topics that they feel they need changed in the country. But now that these topics have been opened up and are not taboo to discuss, I feel as if Shahbagh should now take this into a political battle. As the article states, “Shahbagh is the silent majority.” If they can unite in winning political elections and earning a say in the government then they will be able to start talking about these topics in a place of importance instead of out on the streets at rallies. I also believe that if these rallies continue, violence will arise between the Shahbagh and the Jamaat protestors or they will simply get out of hand and lead to police retaliation. With the swelling numbers, it has the potential to become out of control very easily. I believe that the proposed amendment to the International Crimes Tribunal, although proposed to fix the issue, will only make the ICT’s rulings obsolete and a new system will be have to be put in place to ensure that people are tried fairly. Taking the political path is the best option that the Shahbagh now have in order to follow up their success at these rallies and across social media with actual changes in the inner workings and beliefs of the country as a whole. Without a more civilized manner to discuss these topics, I fear that the rallies will break down into skirmishes and violence will become a reoccurring thing. 

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