Bangladesh: Two opposition leaders hanged for 1971 war crimes

Bangladesh hanged two top opposition leaders on Sunday for war crimes committed during the independence conflict and boostedSECURITY across the country over fears that the executions could spark fresh unrest. Soon after the execution, ambulances escorted by elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and armedPOLICE came out of the prison complex carrying the bodies. A second story narrated how minority Hindus had been brutally attacked and killed and their homes torched under Chowdhury’s leadership.

The foreign office, meanwhile, said it summoned Pakistani envoy here toREGISTER its protest over Pakistan’s unacceptable remarks over the executions.

Bangladesh was on high alert Monday against any violence in response to the hangings, with thousands ofSECURITY personnel patrolling the cities.

Although the immediate test will be to rein in protests, neutralising the growing force of the radicals will be a far more daunting task as even some prominent leaders in the Awami League, Hasina’s party, are averse to pursuing the agenda of a secular Bangladesh.

A special war crimes tribunal found Mr Chowdhury guilty of nine out of 23 charges including genocide, arson and persecuting people on religious and political grounds. But he would not say exactly when the executions would take place.

According to media reports, both were hanged in Dhaka jail on Sunday midnight after President Abdul Hamid rejected their clemency appeals.

The party openly campaigned against independence for Bangladesh during the war.

Chowdhury was a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is headed by ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

While the other three were members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Chowdhury was a senior figure in the main opposition BNP.

Both Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have described the legal proceedings as flawed and politically-motivated.

It was Pakistan that hasSYSTEMATICALLY failed in its obligation to bring to justice those of its nationals identified and held responsible for committing mass atrocity crimes in 1971, and Pakistan could not escape the historic obligation it owed to the people of Bangladesh as well as to the global community. Government of Pakistan must move forward to stand up for those who supported Pakistan in 1971 against a treason, the party has demanded.

Mujahid was sentenced to death in 2013.

Such extremist violence was once rare in Bangladesh, which is mostly Muslim but has a strong secular tradition.