DHAKA – Bangladesh on Thursday hanged a senior Islamist leader known as the “Butcher of Mirpur”, making him the first person to be put to death for massacres committed during the country’s bloody 1971 war of independence.
“The execution has been carried out,” deputy law minister Quamrul Islam told AFP, adding that Abdul Quader Mollah, 65, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at 10.01 pm (1601 GMT) in a jail in the capital Dhaka.
The hanging took place just hours after the country’s Supreme Court dismissed Mollah’s appeal for a final review of his death sentence, removing the last legal option against his execution.
The wife and children of Mollah met the Jamaat-e-Islami leader at a jail in Dhaka for one last time hours before the execution, and found him to be “calm”. “He has told us that he is proud to be a martyr for the cause of Islamic movement in the country,” Mollah’s son Hasan Jamil told AFP after meeting his father.
Security has also been tightened outside the jail gate and in the capital Dhaka, with the authorities deploying paramilitary border guards in key flashpoints.
Islamists and opposition protesters armed with crude bombs and rocks clashed with police in riots in several cities across the country after the Supreme Court announced the brief verdict paving the way for the execution.
Mollah was originally set to be hanged on Tuesday night after he refused to seek presidential clemency. But in a night of high drama a judge stayed the hanging just 90 minutes before the scheduled execution, amid international concern over the fairness of the war crime trials of mainly opposition leaders.
Mollah was found to have been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia which fought against the country’s independence and killed some of Bangladesh’s top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.
A key opposition official, he was convicted of rape, murder and mass murder, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians. Prosecutors described him as the “Butcher of Mirpur”, a Dhaka suburb where he committed most of the atrocities. Hundreds of secular protesters erupted in celebration hearing the news of the execution.
They have been camping at Shahbagh square in Dhaka since Tuesday night, shouting slogans including: “Hang Quader Mollah, hang war criminals”.
The Jamaat-e-Islami stood against the independence of Bangladesh and opposed the break-up of Pakistan. It collaborated with the Pakistani Army in its operations against Bengali nationalists and Hindus.
Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Acting Chief Reaction on The Incident:
The incumbent barbarous government has inhumanly murdered the Assistant Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami, in a preplanned way denying and defying the call and request of local and international community at 10.01 pm this night. (Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun). I am condemning this planned murder of the government and expressing my deep resentment over the heinous incident. By killing unlawfully, the government has invited its own doom. Each drop of his sacred blood will bring curse for all who were involved with this murder. Their collapse and ultimate ruin is inevitable. The nation will witness their downfall soon.
Last words of Abdul Quader Molla for his family:
I was your guardian. If this government would kill me unlawfully, that will be a death of martyrdom. Following my martyrdom, Almighty Allah will be your guardian. HE is better guardian. So you have nothing to be worried.
I am absolutely innocent. I am being murdered as I am involved with the Islamic movement. The death in martyrdom is not bestowed in everyone’s fate. If Almighty Allah blesses me with martyrdom, I would consider myself as the luckiest. The martyrdom will be the best achievement of my life. My every single blood will mobilize the Islamic movement and will bring the doom of the autocrats. I am not worried for myself. I am worried about the fate of this nation and the Islamic movement. To my knowledge, I have not committed any mistakes or offences. I have sacrificed my entire life for the Islamic movement. I have never bow down my head before irregularities, will never do by the grace of Almighty Allah. No question is raised of seeking mercy or life before any worldly authority. Allah is the only deciding authority of life and death.