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Abdul Quader Molla


Abdul Quader Molla  (born 14 August, 1948)[4] is a politician in Bangladesh, convicted of war crimes during 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh.[5] He is the assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the country.[5][6]He is the former executive editor of The Daily Sangram, and twice unsuccessfully stood for parliament in 1986 and 1996, contesting the seat Faridpur-4 for Jamaat-e-Islami.[7]He was convicted on five of six counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes at his trial at the International Crimes Tribunal, on 5 February 2013. A member of the Al-Badar militia during the liberation war, Mollah was convicted of killing 344 civilians and other crimes.[5][8] He was sentenced to life in prison.[9]
 
As a direct result of the sentence the 2013 Shahbag protests began with the protestors demanding capital punishment for all those on trial.[10] The protest spread from Dhaka to other parts of the country. Protesters called for those convicted of war crimes to be sentenced to capital punishment, and also to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.[11] Jamaat-e-Islmi started violent counter-protest in the country, demanding the release of its convicted and accused leaders.[12]On September 17, 2013, the Bangladesh Supreme Court found Molla guilty of murders and other war crimes and he was given capital punishment, converting his life sentence to death sentence

Early life

Abdul Quader Molla was born in the village of Amirabad, Faridpur in 1948. He attended school at Amirabad Fazlul Huq Institute. In 1966, while studying for a science degree at Rajendra College, Faridpur, he joined the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, then known as 'Islami Chatra Sangha' (ICS), and was elected as president. He graduated from Rajendra College in 1968, and the following year he enrolled in a Master's programme at Dhaka University. While studying there, he was elected president of the Shahidullah Hall unit of the Islami Chatra Sangha.[7][5]

Political career

In 1971 leaders of Jamaat opposed the independence movement in East Pakistan, as they believed it went against Islam to break up the Muslim state. As a member of Islaim Chatra Sangha, Quader Molla joined its paramilitary force, Al-Badar, during the liberation war.[5][14][12] But, Bangladesh achieved independence that year. Jamaat was banned from political participation under the new government. After assassination of the president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 and a military coup, the new government permitted Jamaat to participate in politics again. Quader Molla became active in the party. By 2010 he was assistant secretary general of the party.[12] He was elected to the Bangladesh National Press Club, in recognition of his status.[15]

War crimes trial

In the twenty-first century, the government of Bangladesh established an International Crimes Tribunal to prosecute war crimes that were committed in 1971 during the liberation war. A formal charge was filed by the Prosecution against Abdul Quader Molla on 18 December 2011 in the form of a petition, as required under Section 9(1) of the 1973 Act.[16]He was charged with abetting the Pakistani army and actively participating in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities: rape (including the rape of minors) and mass murder of Bangladeshis in the Mirpur area of Dhaka during the Bangladesh Liberation War. A member of the Rajakar militia during the war, Mollah was charged with killing 344 civilians.[5][8][17] As The Independent reported:
"Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant secretary-general of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, sparked protests when he emerged from Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on 4 February having been handed a life sentence for his role in the atrocities committed during the 1971 war for independence. He was clearly happy with the ruling – giving a victory sign to supporters outside the court. But critics of the so-called Butcher of Mirpur – who was convicted of of beheading a poet, raping an 11-year-old girl and shooting 344 people – have been left fuming over the sentence, and are calling for him to face the death sentence, like fellow accused Abul Kalam Azad."[12][18]

Verdict

Under section 20(3) of the Act of 1973, the International Crimes Tribunal announced a verdict and handed down a life sentence to Abdul Quader Molla on 5 February 2013, with an additional 15-year sentence to be served in addition to the time he has been imprisoned since his arrest.[19]

Reaction

Some activists protested and demonstrated, demanding the death penalty and an end to extremism in politics. A major protest started at the Shahbag intersection in central Dhaka.[20][21] Bloggers and online activists called for further mass demonstration at Shahbag intersection.[11][22] Thousands of people joined the protest and the demonstration culminated in the 2013 Shahbag protests.[23]Since the start of protests, tens of thousands of people have been holding day-and-night vigils at Shahbag, refusing to leave until all those convicted of war crimes are sentenced to capital punishment.[24] A counter protest against the trials and general strike was launched by Jamaat-e-Islami, as most of the accused have been Jamaat leaders.
 
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) had initially expressed support for Jamaat-e-Islami, a principal ally in their Four-Party Alliance in the 2000s.[25] The BNP has commented on the Shahbag Protest, warning that the government should not be allowed to draw political mileage from the movement that is demanding capital punishment for convicted war criminals.[26]Responding to the demand of the Shahbag activists, on 13 February 2013, the National Press Club of Bangladesh stripped Quader Molla of his membership.[15] On 17 February 2013, the Bangladeshi Parliament passed a bill amending the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act of 1973.[27]Jamaat members have also led protests against the trials, saying that the government is trying to suppress the opposition. It called for a general strike in Dhaka, shutting down activity in the city.

Death sentence

On September 17, 2013, Bangladesh Supreme Court found Molla guilty of murders and other war crimes and ordered his execution, converting his life sentence to death sentence.[13].[13]
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