Protests as Bangladesh executes Islamist leader

The Bangladesh government on Dec. 12 executed Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary general of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party. Mollah was convicted by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICTB) for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and sentenced to life in prison; however, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in September sentenced Mollah to death without appeal. Mullah’s execution has sparked widespread protests throughout the country, with opposition groups calling for a countrywide strike on Dec. 15.

The war crimes tribunal has led to increased unrest and clashes between protestors and security forces throughout the nation. Last week, two UN human rights experts on urged the Bangladesh government to halt the execution of Mollah, stressing that the right of appeal is particularly important in death penalty cases, separating “possibly permitted” capital punishment from summary execution, “which by definition violates human rights standards.”

In August Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report documenting brutality by Bangladeshi security forces in responding to street protests, resulting in the death of at least 150 protesters and the injury of at least 2,000 since February. HRW issued an appeal to JI in March to end violent protests and clashes with police, which resulted in at least 46 deaths that month alone. Appeals to members of JI to respect the rule of law and engage in peaceful exchange have been made particularly difficult by an August ruling by a Bangladeshi high court declaring the organization an illegal political party.

From Jurist, Dec. 13. Used with permission.