Bangladesh Executes Opposition Leader For War Crimes

Despite objections from human rights activists, Abdul Quader Mollah was executed for war crimes after protests calling for his death.

Bangladesh Executes Opposition Leader For War Crimes
Wikimedia Commons / Mehdi Hasan Khan

Bangladesh executed a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party Thursday for war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war for independence.

Abdul Quader Mollah is the first person to be put to death based on convictions from the war, during which anywhere from 1-3 million people were killed by Pakistani soldiers. He was hung at a jail in the capital, Dhaka.

"He was known as the 'Butcher of Mirpur' for atrocities he was linked to during the country's war for independence in 1971 ... including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians." (Via CNN)

Mollah and his party were against independence from Pakistan. According to International Business Times, he was accused of aiding in "the abduction and killing of more than 200 Bengali intellectuals in the fading days of the war."

In February, Mollah was sentenced to life in prison by the International Crimes Tribunal, a council set up by the Bangladeshi government in 2010 to investigate the killings. That sentence proved controversial for many Bangladeshi citizens. (Via The Daily Star)

Thousands of young protesters flooded the streets of the capital in opposition of the ruling and called for his execution instead. 

Then in September, the Supreme Court ordered a death sentence, resulting in strikes and violent clashes between Mollah's party and the Bangladesh Nationalist ruling party.

Bangladeshi officials are now preparing for expected backlash. According to The Guardian, "Security forces are preparing for violence on Friday and at the weekend. [Jamaat] officials have called a nationwide strike for Sunday."

United Nations activists have said they're concerned about the fairness of the tribunal, which lacks an appeal process. U.N. officials had urged a stay of execution for Mollah and other defendants whose executions are upcoming.