News / Asia

Condemned Islamist Leader Wins 11th Hour Reprieve in Bangladesh

People chant slogans as they attend a sit-in protest at Shahbagh intersection demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami senior leader Abdul Quader Mollah after he won a dramatic stay of execution before he was due to be hanged in Dhaka
People chant slogans as they attend a sit-in protest at Shahbagh intersection demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami senior leader Abdul Quader Mollah after he won a dramatic stay of execution before he was due to be hanged in Dhaka
Reuters
An Islamist opposition leader in Bangladesh won a dramatic stay of execution on Tuesday hours before he was due to be hanged, according to his lawyers, allaying fears for now of a violent backlash less than a month before elections are due.

Abdul Quader Mollah, who was found guilty in February of war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan, was due to be hanged at one minute past midnight [1801 GMT] at Dhaka Central Jail.

Mollah's lawyers rushed to petition a judge, however, who agreed to delay the execution pending a hearing at 10.30 a.m.

Ending widespread confusion and conflicting reports, Additional Attorney General M. K. Rahman finally confirmed the two sides in the case would meet at the Supreme Court. He said there was no legal provision for the execution to be reviewed, because the trial had been held by a special war crimes tribunal and thus under separate law.

Mollah is assistant secretary general of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which is barred from contesting elections, but plays a key role in the opposition movement alongside the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Critics say Prime Minister Sheik Hasina, whose bitter rivalry with BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia has dominated politics for more than two decades, has used the tribunal to target Jamaat and weaken the opposition.

Human rights groups say the International Crimes Tribunal [ICT] procedures fall short of international standards.

Previous rulings by the ICT, set up in 2010 to investigate atrocities during the 1971 conflict, sparked deadly clashes across the impoverished nation of 160 million people.

Sporadic violence broke out on Tuesday, including in the southern district of Feni where one person was killed in clashes between police and Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of Jamaat, police said.

Jamaat activists also torched vehicles and exploded crude bombs in Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong.

In Dhaka, hundreds of people who supported the tribunal angrily chanted for Mollah's execution to be carried out.

Election row

The latest bone of contention between Khaleda and Hasina is the election, which has been set for January 5, 2014.

The BNP wants to postpone the vote until after the formation of a caretaker cabinet that would remove Hasina from power, a demand the prime minister has so far resisted.

The announcement of plans for Mollah's execution initially dashed hopes the two sides could be edging toward a compromise.

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, United Nations assistant secretary general for political affairs, has been in Bangladesh for the last four days seeking to break the deadlock.

Bangladesh has been racked by violent protests sparked by the tribunal's rulings, disagreements over the election, and anger among garment workers over low pay and poor conditions.

Nearly 200 people have been killed and thousands wounded in running street battles between protesters and police across Bangladesh, and many roads and railways remain blocked.

The unrest threatens the $22-billion garment export industry, the country's economic mainstay that employs some 4 million people, most of them women.

The industry, which supplies many Western brands, came under scrutiny when a building housing factories collapsed in April, killing more than 1,130 people.

Bangladesh was part of Pakistan when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned at the end of British rule in 1947; but it broke away from Pakistan in 1971 after a nine-month war.

Some factions in Bangladesh, including Jamaat, opposed the break with Pakistan, but the party denies accusations that its leaders committed murder, rape and torture.

About 3 million people were killed, according to official figures, and thousands of women were raped.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid