News / Asia

Bangladesh Opposition Leader Sentenced to Death for War Crimes

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior opposition leader, waves to the media after he arrives at the war crime tribunal, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 1, 2013.
Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior opposition leader, waves to the media after he arrives at the war crime tribunal, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 1, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anjana Pasricha
— A war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has handed the death penalty to a senior member and lawmaker from the main opposition party for his role in the country’s 1971 war of independence. It is the seventh verdict announced against opposition leaders by the controversial court and has raised fears of more political violence in the country.
 
Security was tight in the packed Dhaka courtroom where Bangladesh Nationalist party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury was handed the death penalty for genocide, abduction and torture, among other charges.
 
He is the first sitting member of parliament and the first leader of the main opposition BNP to be sentenced in connection with the mass killings and other crimes that took place in 1971, when the country broke free of Pakistan after a bloody struggle.

  • People shout slogans as they celebrate the death sentence of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Dhaka, Oct. 1, 2013.
  • Activists celebrate the death sentence of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Dhaka, Oct. 1, 2013.
  • Farhat Quader Chowdhury, the wife of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, speaks to the media after her husband was sentenced to death, Dhaka, Oct. 1, 2013.
  • Salaudin Quader Chowdhury waves on his way into court, Dhaka, Oct. 1, 2013. 
  • Police stand guard in front of the war crime tribunal as the court sentences Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Dhaka, Oct. 1, 2013.

After the sentence was read out, Chowdhury accused the government of orchestrating the verdict, saying “it came from the Law Ministry. It has been available on the Internet since yesterday.”

Ataur Rahman, a political professor at Dhaka University, said the 64-year-old Chowdhury is an influential leader from a well connected political family. “He has been a member of parliament for 37 years. He is popular and powerful, and popularity and power in Bangladesh go hand in hand.”

Troops deployed

Fearing violence, the government deployed troops in Chittagong, Chowdhury’s home district.

The government opened the inquiry against nine senior opposition leaders nearly 40 years after the country’s independence struggle, during which some local leaders were accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces. Seven are Islamists from the Jamaat-e-Islami. Two are from the BNP.  

Both parties denounce the trials as politically motivated and say they are an effort to decimate the opposition. The trials have triggered violent street protests since the tribunal began handing down the verdicts earlier this year. At least 100 people have been killed.

Analysts say the trials have deepened divisions in a country which is deeply politically polarized. They say both the BNP and the Jamaat-e -Islami are likely to join hands to create a new momentum against the government, which has to hold elections by January next year.
 
Political commentator Rahman said there also is a measure of public opposition to the trials. “Even the saner elements within the society think that this should be as [a] symbolic verdict. This capital punishment inspire a lot of negativity and also people are thinking that the government is trying to reap the political dividend out of this whole process of trial.”
 
The government says the trials will heal the wounds of the 1971 war. Human rights groups say the war crimes tribunal does not meet international standards.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rahi from: Toronto
October 03, 2013 7:40 PM
While the founder of the Bangladesh had released all Pakistani military officers (around 200) named to be trialed for war crimes after Shemla Agreement in 1972(Among Bangladesh, India and Pakistan). Now the real military personal were forgiven and after 40 yrs civilians are at target. This will creat alot of problems internally in Bangladeshi society and politics. Better to follow their founder, Sheikh Mubeebur Rahman`s policy who released all prisoners (96,000) at that time. God Bless Bangla Desh and its people.


by: Ased from: US
October 02, 2013 9:48 PM
Well, I have been following up on this War Tribunal in Bangladesh which seems to be designed to get rid of all opposition. The man concerned here was at that time in what was West Pakistan and 100s of affidavits from recognizable and esteemed individuals were rejected, 100s who were to come to testify were not allowed visa and 100s of defense witnesses were not allowed in. .. Its pathetic that the guilty verdict was already online (2 days in advance, minor calculating mistake) while the court was still in session.. That should be enough for anyone without bias to know what really is going on.


by: KARUNA from: COIMBATORE
October 01, 2013 10:41 AM
HEADING A VIOLENT GROUP PROTECT THE WAR-CRIMINALS AND ALSO MAKE THEM LAW MAKERS FOR DECADES WITHOUT LET UP. ONE CAN NOW UNDERSTAND THAT SINGAPORE-FOUNDER DECLARED TO THE WORLD THAT RAJABAKSHE A SINHALA TERRORIST AND HRNCE BUTCHERED THE MINORITIES NUMBERINGMORE THAN 1 LAC-ALL WOMEN,CHILDREN,AND THE OLD. THE UN HAD FAILED TO STOP SUCH LARGE KILLING AS REPORTED BY BAN-KI-MOON. NOWUN SHOULD FOLLOW THE FOOT STEPS OF BANGLADESH IN HANGING THE WAR CRIMINALS IN SRILANKA EARLY.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid