Bangladesh: Execution of Islamist Party Leader Prompts Violent Protests

Violent protests broke out in Bangladesh after Islamist party leader Motiur Rahman Nizami was hanged on war crime charges, including genocide, rape, and torture linked to the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Nizami, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was executed on Wednesday for orchestrating the massacre of intellectuals during the war, among the other mentioned war crime charges.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has withdrawn his country’s ambassador to Bangladesh following the hanging of Nizami, reports Reuters.

“International human rights groups say the procedures of the Bangladeshi tribunal that sentenced Nizami fell short of international standards,” notes the report. “The government rejects that, and the trials have been supported by many Bangladeshis. In Turkey, there have been a handful of protests against the execution in recent days.”

Although “hundreds” of Nizami supporters reportedly protested his execution, hundreds of people also gathered in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka to celebrate his hanging.

“There were 500 Jamaat activists who were protesting against the execution. We fired rubber bullets as they became violent,” Selim Badsah, police inspector for the northwestern city of Rajshahi, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), noting that an estimated 20 people were arrested.

“Hundreds of people gathered near his prison in the capital Dhaka to celebrate the hanging,” adds BBC. “Nizami was the fifth and highest-ranked opposition leader to be executed since December 2013 for war crimes.”

AFP learned from Masudul Hasan, the police chief for Chittagong, that about 2,500 people had attended a service for Nizami in the port city.

“Jamaat activists and supporters of the governing Awami League also clashed in Chittagong,” Hasan told AFP.

“Security was tight across the country, with checkpoints erected on main roads in Dhaka to deter violence and thousands of police patrolling the Bangladeshi capital,” reports Al Jazeera.

Government security forces had reportedly prevented Jamaat supporters from organizing protests in recent months.

Al Jazeera quoted Asaduzzaman Khan, Bangladesh’s home minister, as saying that Nizami “was hanged shortly after midnight on Wednesday in Dhaka central jail.”

“Earlier, the country’s supreme court rejected Nizami’s final appeal against the death sentence, imposed by a special tribunal,” reports Al Jazeera, later adding that “Nizami’s body was later handed over to his family for burial in the northwestern district of Pabna, his ancestral home.”

The Jamaat-e-Islami party and its leader Nizami were strongly opposed to breaking away from Pakistan.

CNN reports, “the party was banned shortly after Bangladesh gained independence,” adding that “the group then re-entered politics.”


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