When the Shahbag protest started, the spirit of the movement and the unity with which people gathered made me feel something extraordinary. I personally do not support death penalty, but like many, I was disappointed when the Kader Mollah aka the Butcher of Mirpur did not get the supreme punishment according to the law – fasi (death sentence). Many human rights activists who have worked with international processes of human rights would not openly support the death penalty. Research studies have shown that the death penalty does not prove to be a deterrent to rape or murder. However, if Kader Mollah were to be hanged, I do not think the activists would start a movement against it.
We must recognize the other dimensions of the Shahbag movement, the dimension other than the demand of capital punishment. Although Shahbag is not the first protest I went to, it is in a way extraordinary. Because it is for the first time in the last four decades, a huge number of apolitical people have come together to challenge something that did not feel right. This gave immense hope to people for change, for ending the culture of impunity and demanding accountability from the bodies that are responsible for implementing our laws. Continue reading