Bangladeshis hold demo to demand release of jailed Bangla Jamaat leaders
By Rizwan Khatik - Tue Feb 05, 3:25 pm
Thousands of Bangladeshis have taken to the streets in the capital Dhaka to demand the release of six jailed leaders of the country’s Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party.
The rally took place on Monday in the city’s principal business district, Motijheel where thousands of Jamaat leaders and activists reportedly participated in the demonstration.
Following the rally, a senior leader of the party, Selim Uddin issued a statement saying that “There is no scope to give verdict from a controversial tribunal to save the country from the civil war… Don’t push the country towards a civil war by creating discord.”
On January 31, a similar protest was held in the capital where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. The leaders, who are on trial before Dhaka’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), are accused of playing roles in atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan.
Opponents call the charges false and accuse the ruling Awami League government of using the ICT, created in 2010 to try war crimes suspects, as a political tool to target the opposition.
Human rights groups have also expressed concern over the fairness of the trials, demanding that they be held according to international laws.
In January, a Muslim cleric was sentenced to death in absentia in the first ICT ruling, while verdicts against two Jamaat leaders are expected in early February.