Movement demanding trial of war criminals (Bangladesh)

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Movement demanding trial of war criminals
Shahbag Projonmo Square Uprising Demanding Death Penalty of the War Criminals of 1971 in Bangladesh 32.jpg
Caused by
  • Civil conflict
  • Protest
  • Online protest

The movement demanding trial of war criminals is a protest movement in Bangladesh, from 1972 to present demanding trial of the perpetrators of 1971 Bangladesh genocide during the Bangladesh Liberation War from Pakistan.[4]


The Bangladesh Liberation War started on 26 March 1971 after Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight on 25 March.[5][6] During Operation Searchlight, Pakistan Army attacked East Pakistan Rifles, East Pakistan Ansar, and Rajarbagh police barracks.[5] The soldiers also attacked the University of Dhaka and Hindu majority neighborhoods in the city.[5] The Pakistan Army target civilians in their war effort.[5] These actions are collectively known as the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide.[5] From 14 to 16 December, Pakistan Army and local collaborators targeted and killed Bengali academics, writers, doctors and other intellectuals.[7][8] The two days are known as the 1971 killing of Bengali intellectuals.[9] The war lasted until 16 December when Pakistan surrendered to a joint forces of Indian military and Bangladeshi Mukti Bahini.[6]

After the Independence of Bangladesh, the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led government passed the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order, 1972 on 24 January for the trial of war criminals and collaborators of Pakistan Army.[10] On 20 July 1973, the government passed the separate International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 for the trial of Pakistani soldiers accused of war crimes.[10] On 30 November 1973, the government of Bangladesh issued a pardon for collaborators who were not charged with war crimes such as rape, murder, arson etc.[10] Total collaborators in custody was 37 thousand of whom 26 thousand were released after the amnesty.[10]

President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed in the 15 August 1975 Bangladeshi coup d'état and Awami League government overthrown.[11][12] Major General Ziaur Rahman repealed the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order, 1972 which paved the way for the release of all detained collaborators and war crime accused.[10][13]


In 1972, the spouses of martyred intellectuals started the peaceful protest. Wife of Zahir Raihan, who was killed in January 1972 by Bihari collaborators of Pakistan Army, took first step for this.[14] Zahir Raihan's brother, Shahidullah Kaiser, was a victim of enforced disappearance by local collaborators including Abdul Majid Majumder, office secretary of Dhaka District unit of Jamaat-e-Islami, identified by witnesses of the abduction.[15]


As the ruler of Bangladesh, President Ziaur Rahman (1975–1981) enacted several controversial measures, ostensibly to win the support of Islamic political parties and opponents of the Awami League.[16][17][18] In 1978, he revoked the ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami,[19] which was widely believed to have collaborated with the Pakistani army and members of which are alleged to have committed war crimes against civilians.[20][21]

Ghulam Azam, the exiled chief of the Jammat-e-Islami, was allowed to come back to Bangladesh in July 1978 with a Pakistani Passport.[22] In 1991 December Ghulam Azam, was elected the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islam. Subsequently, Jahanara Imam organized the Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee (Committee to exterminate the Killers and Collaborators).[23] The committee called for the trial of people who committed crimes against humanity in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War in collaboration with the Pakistani forces.[24] The Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee set up mock trials in Dhaka in March 1992 known as Gono Adalat (Court of the people) and 'sentenced' persons they accused of being war criminals.[25] Imam and others were charged with treason.[25] This charge was, however, dropped in 1996 after her death by the Chief Advisor Mohammed Habibur Rahman of the Caretaker government of that time.[26]


Human chain by the students of Govt. Bangla College

On 2007, at the regime of military backed Caretaker government, students of Govt. Bangla College took step for mass protest like human chain, symbolic hunger strike, rally, discussion, silence protest, flower placement demanding trial of war criminals of 1971 and to build monument for martyrs in Bangla College Killing Field.[27][28][29][30][31] Organizations based on Liberation war, cultural organization, political parties expressed deep support to this movement led and co-ordinated by general students.[32][33][34][35][36] Students played strong role in street from 2007 to 2010 and also continues activity in internet.[37][38][39][40]

Post Liberation Students Union for Better Bangladesh (PSUBD) held protests and demonstrations urging trial of war criminals. Students from most of the universities in Dhaka joined the protest, demonstrations and human chains organised by PSUBD.[41]


PSUBD continued to demand the trial of war criminals by holding protests, demonstrations, human chains and other activities to gain public support on the issue. Before the general election'08 PSUBD organised demonstration at TSC urging not to vote war criminals.[41] Sector Commanders Forum calls for protest.[42]


In 2010, the Awami League led Government of Bangladesh established the International Crimes Tribunal (Bangladesh) for the trial of war criminals from Bangladesh Liberation War under an amended version of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.[43][44]

2013 Shahbag protests[edit]

The 2013 Shahbag protests, associated with a central neighborhood of Dhaka, Bangladesh, began on February 5, 2013, and later spread to other parts of Bangladesh, as people demanded capital punishment for Abdul Quader Mollah, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, and for others convicted of war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal.[45][46] On that day, the International Crimes Tribunal had sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison after he was convicted on five of six counts of war crimes.[47][48] Later demands included banning the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party from politics and a boycott of institutions supporting (or affiliated with) the party.[46][49][50]


  1. ^ "Shahbagh grand rally demands ban on Jamaat". The Daily Star. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Cry for Jamaat ban". 8 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Vow to boycott Jamaat institutions". The Daily Star. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Search for the last signs of 1971 genocide goes on". 2022-12-16. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Genocide, 1971 - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  6. ^ a b "War of Liberation, The - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  7. ^ Hoque, Mofidul (2018-12-14). "Why were they targeted?". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  8. ^ Hoque, Mofidul (2017-12-14). "Pakistani Viewpoint: Killing of Bengali Intellectuals". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  9. ^ "Massacre of the Bengali intellectuals in 1971". Dhaka Tribune. 2019-12-14. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  10. ^ a b c d e Staff Correspondent (2007-10-28). "War criminals were not pardoned". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  11. ^ Times, William Borders Special to The New York (1975-08-15). "Mu jib Reported Overthrown and Killed In a Coup by the Bangladesh Military". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  12. ^ "BANGLADESH COUP: A DAY OF KILLINGS". The New York Times. 1975-08-23. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  13. ^ Momen, Dr Abdul (2008-03-19). "War criminals of 1971: Time to take action". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  14. ^ Daily Desh, 26 February 1972
  15. ^ "Shahidullah Kaiser". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  16. ^ "Ziaur Rahman (Shaheed General Zia) - President of Bangladesh, Islam and nationalism, Gram Sarkar, multi-party - biography of Muslim and Bengali". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  17. ^ Franda, Marcus (1981). "Ziaur Rahman and Bangladeshi Nationalism". Economic and Political Weekly. 16 (10/12): 357–380. ISSN 0012-9976.
  18. ^ "The BNP's choice of indemnity". 2022-09-13. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  19. ^ "Jamaat was BNP's biggest mistake". 2022-09-30. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  20. ^ "Why Bangladesh is executing Jamaat-e-Islami leaders. A short history". The Indian Express. 2016-05-12. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  21. ^ Tusher, Hasan Jahid; Khan, Ashfaq Wares (2007-10-27). "What Jamaat leaders said in '71". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  22. ^ Adhikary, Tuhin Shubhra; Khan, Mahbubur Rahman (2014-10-24). "Ghulam Azam dies in prison". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  23. ^ "Imam, Jahanara - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  24. ^ "Nirmul Committee - Archives Hub". Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  25. ^ a b sun, daily. "Death Anniversary of Jahanara Imam and a Note on Gono Adalot | Daily Sun |". daily sun. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  26. ^ "Gono Adalot 1992". International Crimes Research Foundation. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  27. ^ "2008 (E) Khabar 2 March". 2 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  28. ^ "2008 (G) Bhorer Kagoj 2 March". 2 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  29. ^ "2008 (D) Jai Jai Din 2 March". 2 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  30. ^ "2008 (F) Shamakal 2 March". 2 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  31. ^ "2008 (C) daily STAR 2 March". 2 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  32. ^ "2007 (A) Shamokal 1 Dec". December 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  33. ^ "Students join hands to salvage history". The Daily Star. 12 December 2007.
  34. ^ "2007 (C) Bhorer Kagog 13 Dec". 13 December 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  35. ^ "2007 (D) Shamakal 14 Dec". 14 December 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  36. ^ Daily Shamakal, 1 February 2008
  37. ^ "2009 (D) Primary Achievement 31 January Jugantor". February 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  38. ^ "2009 (E) Jugantor Campus 28 February". 28 February 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  39. ^ "Restore killing field at Mirpur Bangla College". The Daily Star. 26 March 2008.
  40. ^ "Human Chain of Sector Commanders Forum on 10 July 2010 in front of Engineer's Institution at 11 am. Students and Ex-students of Bangla College attended on the program with SCF and others..." 10 July 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  41. ^ a b "Vote down war criminals". The Daily Star. 28 December 2008.
  42. ^ "Bangladesh commanders demand war crime trial". Reuters. 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  43. ^ Tan, Yudan (2020), Lee, Seokwoo; Lee, Hee Eun (eds.), "Prosecuting Crimes against Humanity before International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh: A Nexus with an Armed Conflict", Asian Yearbook of International Law, Volume 24 (2018), Brill, pp. 294–322, doi:10.1163/j.ctv1sr6j7f.12, ISBN 978-90-04-43777-7, retrieved 2022-12-16
  44. ^ Manik, Julfikar Ali; Tusher, Hasan Jahid (2010-03-26). "Stage set for war trial". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2022-12-16.
  45. ^ "The International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  46. ^ a b "Protesters demand death for Bangladesh war crimes Islamist". Reuters. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  47. ^ "Summary of verdict in Quader Mollah case". The Daily Star. 6 February 2013.
  48. ^ Rabbi, Saimul Islam (16 February 2013). "Bangladesh 1971: War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity". Archived from the original on 2013-10-13.
  49. ^ Rahman, Mashiur (28 February 2013). "Analysis: Calls grow for banning Jamaat-e-Islami in BD". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  50. ^ "Thousands in Bangladesh war crimes protest". Al Jazeera. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013.

External links[edit]

  • containing information and photos of protest by Bangla College students
  • containing information and photos of protest in Shahbag