Conviction of war criminals could be fuelling killing spree in Bangladesh

Police say those opposed to the prosecution of 1971 war criminals could be behind the targeted killings of activists and academics

Conviction of war criminals could be fuelling killing spree in Bangladesh

Those opposed to the war crimes trial in Bangladesh are funding the current wave of attacks on secular activist, foreigners, religious and sexual minorities, police said in Dhaka on Monday.

"Whenever we are executing verdicts of the war tribunals, then only such incidents occur, Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman, Dhaka Range, Deputy Inspector General was quoted as saying by the Daily Star.

The senior police officer said the targeted killings of the activists and academics could be a back lash to the sentencing of those sentenced for crimes committed during the country's struggle for independence in 1971.

"Financiers of these groups are those who don't want the war crimes trials to take place, the same people who opposed Bangladesh's Liberation in 1971, Nuruzzman said.

Bangladesh has so far executed five Islamist leaders after the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) found them guilty of genocide, rape and other crimes.

Officials say the pro-Pakistani militia al-Badr which was opposed to secession of  Bangladesh-then known as East Pakistan from West Pakistan- had sided with the Pakistani army to quell the Bengali movement for independence.

Government records show some three million people were killed, thousands of women were raped and some 10 million refugees fled the country during the bloody War of Liberation in 1971.

Dhaka's Shahbag Square had witnessed a spontaneous sit in by university students, bloggers, writers and activists after the ICT handed over a life sentence to Abdul Qader Mollah in February 2013.

The Jamat-e-Islami leader was accused of beheading a poet, killing 344 people and raping a 11 year old during the country's nine month long struggle for independence.

The ant-Islamist protest which came to be known as Shahbagh Movement had mounted a sustained campaign demanding death penalty for all the 11 accused of perpetrating war crimes.

The campaign have provoked revenge attacks from radical Islamists since 2013. Several of those involved in the Shahbagh protests have been killed in attacks mostly claimed by affiliates of Al qaeda or Islamic State.

At least 29 people, including bloggers, publishers, academics, secular activists have been killed since 2013, the Dhaka based Daily Star said in a report on Monday. The trial of only one person involvement in the targeted attacks is underway.

Even though, organisations linked to Al Qaeda or the Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack, the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continues to be in a state of denial. It still maintains that the murders were carried out by home grown extremists.

The soft line adopted by the government has emboldened the extremists, and the killing spree continues in Bangladesh.
Infographic courtesy : Daily Star