Bangladesh news February 10, 2013

Top cricketers visit Dhaka protest rally

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Bangladesh's top cricketers and officials, led by the captain Mushfiqur Rahim and board president Nazmul Hassan, visited the scene of a high-profile protest movement in central Dhaka on Sunday following public calls for their participation. Others who were present at the show of solidarity included Mashrafe Mortaza and Mohammad Ashraful.

The protesters are demanding severe punishment for war criminals who had collaborated with Pakistani forces during the war for independence in 1971. An International Crimes Tribunal had been set up in 2010 to try these collaborators, many of whom are politicians.

On February 5, the Tribunal sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, a convicted war criminal, to life imprisonment in two of the five cases filed against him. Hours after the judgment, five people took to Shahbagh, an intersection near Dhaka University, to demand stricter punishment to those who had been charged (directly and indirectly) with sedition, murder, rape and overall collaboration during the war in 1971. Since then it has attracted tremendous response from the rest of the country as more than a million people have joined the protests in six days.

After a grand rally on Friday attended by nearly a million people, there were calls for the cricketers' participation in the protest. After a discussion with the BCB, the players decided to come under the official banner of the national cricket team in solidarity with the protesters. The team walked in from the eastern side of the Shahbagh intersection, now known as the Projonmo Chottor, and were led towards a truck from where many of the protesters - mainly students, bloggers, professionals and members of the general public - voice their opinion and demands.

Mushfiqur, Mashrafe, Ashraful, Nasir Hossain, Abdur Razzak and former captain Habibul Bashar got up on the truck along with the board president and several BCB members. Others like former captain Akram Khan, former cricketer Jahangir Shah Badshah and current players Nazmul Hossain, Elias Sunny, Mominul Haque and Sohag Gazi soaked in the atmosphere. Some were seen walking around the square, and speaking to people and even gave autographs to school and college students. None of the players officially spoke and remained at the protest scene for around 20 minutes, before walking back towards the bus, accompanied by thousands of people.

Later Hassan, the BCB chief, said that the team had decided to visit to lend "solidarity" to the protests.

"Their presence here is very exciting," said Miraj, a college student who has been coming to Shahbagh for the past few days. "To see our national heroes here would mean a lot. I know they are not politically involved, so it is more inspiring to see them here."

Although some of the ministers and political leaders have visited the protests and there have been similar demonstrations all over Bangladesh and around the world among expatriate Bangladeshis, the visit of the cricket team has been the most high-profile yet.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Cricketers are not out of the civil society. It is nothing political there, rather 100% moral and ethical issue. On this day, in 2003, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga heroically stood up and mourned the 'death of democracy' in Zimbabwe (ttp://es.pn/Y1t99m) - that was not merely "political". SA were suspended from international cricket for a long time by ICC - that was not merely "political". Finally, we say "International cricket" - a Nation is a socio-political unit - nothing outside of the society and politics. Salute to the BD cricketers and BCB for the heroic move, thanks to M Isam for the nice article.

  • POSTED BY allapey on | February 12, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Sinhabadu war ctriminals are at large even after 19th May 2009 but state sponsored

  • POSTED BY on | February 12, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Our cricketers play for our country and they have the soil of the land in their hearts when they play.Why wont they participate when the whole country has raised for punishing all those war criminals?

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | February 12, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    I think Pakistanis will not be part of BPL for a little longer period than I anticipated.Already Duronto Rajshahi owner promised he will never hire a Pakistani player for his team.

  • POSTED BY Sinhabahu on | February 11, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Kudos to the team for the public show of support.

    @allapey, don't worry, my friend. All the other Asian war criminals were fully brought to book on May 18th 2009. Hope justice is meted out to the ones in Bangladesh as well.

  • POSTED BY zalmaypk on | February 11, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    ICC should notice it as there is no politics in the sports.its due to the current Bangla Desh govt,they also destroy the cricket relations with Pakistan,,,may be the players were pressurized by the board.. i think the players should avoid these things,,

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    There should NEVER be a NEED to demonstrate against war crimes in any country. It should be a given that those responsible pay for it. Taking sides in a war can be justified - War crimes can never be. Hope those responsible are thoroughly investigated and brought to justice!

  • POSTED BY cricanalyserbd on | February 11, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    not only cricketers, all people of society are raising there voice against war criminal.. so there is no political matter any how... Roar Tigers!!

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    I'm very happy see that the team had visited to Shahabug for showing love of our country.

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Thanx Mohammad Isam.................... For sharing the nice post.................

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Cricketers are not out of the civil society. It is nothing political there, rather 100% moral and ethical issue. On this day, in 2003, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga heroically stood up and mourned the 'death of democracy' in Zimbabwe (ttp://es.pn/Y1t99m) - that was not merely "political". SA were suspended from international cricket for a long time by ICC - that was not merely "political". Finally, we say "International cricket" - a Nation is a socio-political unit - nothing outside of the society and politics. Salute to the BD cricketers and BCB for the heroic move, thanks to M Isam for the nice article.

  • POSTED BY allapey on | February 12, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Sinhabadu war ctriminals are at large even after 19th May 2009 but state sponsored

  • POSTED BY on | February 12, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Our cricketers play for our country and they have the soil of the land in their hearts when they play.Why wont they participate when the whole country has raised for punishing all those war criminals?

  • POSTED BY British_North_America on | February 12, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    I think Pakistanis will not be part of BPL for a little longer period than I anticipated.Already Duronto Rajshahi owner promised he will never hire a Pakistani player for his team.

  • POSTED BY Sinhabahu on | February 11, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Kudos to the team for the public show of support.

    @allapey, don't worry, my friend. All the other Asian war criminals were fully brought to book on May 18th 2009. Hope justice is meted out to the ones in Bangladesh as well.

  • POSTED BY zalmaypk on | February 11, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    ICC should notice it as there is no politics in the sports.its due to the current Bangla Desh govt,they also destroy the cricket relations with Pakistan,,,may be the players were pressurized by the board.. i think the players should avoid these things,,

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    There should NEVER be a NEED to demonstrate against war crimes in any country. It should be a given that those responsible pay for it. Taking sides in a war can be justified - War crimes can never be. Hope those responsible are thoroughly investigated and brought to justice!

  • POSTED BY cricanalyserbd on | February 11, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    not only cricketers, all people of society are raising there voice against war criminal.. so there is no political matter any how... Roar Tigers!!

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    I'm very happy see that the team had visited to Shahabug for showing love of our country.

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Thanx Mohammad Isam.................... For sharing the nice post.................

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    i think it not good to come and participate on such occassion under the official board. Sports should remain away from political

  • POSTED BY Lenin.Noman on | February 11, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Thanks Islam for sharing a nice post! These cricketers are only showing love for their country and nothing else. They are proud Bengali!!

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | February 11, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    While I appreciate the fact that the cricketers stood up for the cause, Should have done it earlier . The war criminals are probably in their 60's or 70's and they are soon gonna kick th bucket anyways!

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Thank you so much Bangladesh National cricket Team jion with us.

  • POSTED BY smadilbd on | February 11, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    Thanx Islam for sharing a nice post!!!!!!!Thanx tiger,we love our land!

  • POSTED BY allapey on | February 11, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    I hope other war criminals in other Asian countries will be broght to Book

  • POSTED BY on | February 11, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    its not the dirty politics....this is a war against traitors......dont mix up politics with this...Judge this from your mind......

  • POSTED BY i_amVIVA on | February 10, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Keep sports and politics separate, please.

  • POSTED BY bharath74 on | February 10, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    These cricketers are only showing love for their country and nothing else. They are proud Bengalis!!

  • POSTED BY Papa_Tango on | February 10, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    This story is incomplete. From the BBC coverage: characterized as a witch hunt since these 'convicts' were part of the Jamaat Islami, part of the opposition to the current government, Human rights groups have also said the tribunal falls short of international standards. So if you want to write about the reasons for the protest, in the interest of balance, when you characterize the tribunal as International, please do elobarate that this is a self styled International tribunal with no international backing, otherwise it is misleading. You also need to present information on the protests by the those who beleive that the verdicts were wrong. Not all Bangladeshis agree with this verdict - this story presents it as otherwise.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    The cricketers of Bangladesh are citizens of Bangladesh, first and foremost. Their solidarity with this movement is a sign of their patriotism and love for the country. Go ahead Tigers! We are always with you!

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    Impossible to beat Pak? Man, SA just thrashed your side blue.

    At least when we went down recently, we gave your team a good scare.

    I hope BD returns the favor in the next Asia cup.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    no politics here......its love for the motherland........

  • POSTED BY Palsudipto_BD on | February 10, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Thanks Bengal tigers,you are our pride.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    This is not a political activity. This is a public activity for all people who loves bangladesh. So anyone can join in this.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    Bangladeshi Cricketers are Bangladeshi first and it is their right to protest and act on their beliefs, political or apolitical. DrNaveed or Sir_Freddie_Flintoff (who I am guessing are not Bangladeshis do not have to concern themselves with the beliefs of these individuals).

    Additionally, like it or not, politics is a part of life. What is happening in my country politically affects me more than whether my country wins a game of cricket or football. So, politics will always be entrenched in Cricket. Be it between India-Pakistan or England-Argentina.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    I think players have participated because they know if they dont, what will going to happened with them. I think they should not be there with BCB protocol. This is wrong.

  • POSTED BY Fuad_bs on | February 10, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    For those of you who don't know anything about the incident, let me tell you that this is not any political activity. This protest has been organised by the people of Bangladesh via facebook fan page. In fact, people are throwing shoes on the political leaders if they are coming their to promote their political activity. And as Bangladeshi citizen cricketers are doing what Bangladeshis citizens should do. There is nothing to do with politics. All are fad up with injustice and people are no more willing to give a single chance to any injustice taken place in Bangladesh. So before you people comment, try knowing what is happening here at first!

  • POSTED BY bad_boy on | February 10, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    To take a stand on crimes against humanity is not a crime...

  • POSTED BY Andre2 on | February 10, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    I am surprised that this piece of news is published by Cricinfo - a web site about Cricket. The Bangla cricketers who participated at this rally went there because they are Bangladesh citizens, not because they are cricketers ! I have made the same comments regarding Imran Khan (Pak.), Tendulkar (India), Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) and plenty of others who have had a life in politics after cricket. We are mostly interested here by their performances as cricketers, not as politicians.

  • POSTED BY drnaveed on | February 10, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    i agree with Sir_Freddie_Flintoff. furthermore,seems the whole BD is awaken after 42 years after independence, were they sleeping before that ?????. sports and politics are two different things, and they should remain separated, and players should not involve themselves in the politics , yes they can join politics after their retirement. seems some one is there behind all this , and you know WHO, ???

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    The players are Bangladeshi first, than a player. They did good to go to the protest.

    As for taking action against Bangla board, please, politics is everywhere, in that case, maybe some other boards should have action taken against them too.

  • POSTED BY asiacricket1234 on | February 10, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @ Sir_Freddie_Flintoff: This is not a political activity. It was not held by any political party either. The people of Bangladesh want this and they are there as a Bangladeshi. Don't make comment about the fact you donno about.

  • POSTED BY TheRisingTeam on | February 10, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    I agree, don't mix sports with politics.

  • POSTED BY AJ_Tiger86 on | February 10, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    Players should not be involved in such political activities as a group. If they want to go individually, then fine. But ICC should consider taking action against Bangla board for this kind of political activity.

  • POSTED BY Prelude on | February 10, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Great initiative. It shows even players are not out of heart. They showed a great respect to the crowd, demanding the death sentences of war criminals. I salute them. Their participation is a great boost for the people.

  • POSTED BY Prelude on | February 10, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Great initiative. It shows even players are not out of heart. They showed a great respect to the crowd, demanding the death sentences of war criminals. I salute them. Their participation is a great boost for the people.

  • POSTED BY AJ_Tiger86 on | February 10, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    Players should not be involved in such political activities as a group. If they want to go individually, then fine. But ICC should consider taking action against Bangla board for this kind of political activity.

  • POSTED BY TheRisingTeam on | February 10, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    I agree, don't mix sports with politics.

  • POSTED BY asiacricket1234 on | February 10, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    @ Sir_Freddie_Flintoff: This is not a political activity. It was not held by any political party either. The people of Bangladesh want this and they are there as a Bangladeshi. Don't make comment about the fact you donno about.

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    The players are Bangladeshi first, than a player. They did good to go to the protest.

    As for taking action against Bangla board, please, politics is everywhere, in that case, maybe some other boards should have action taken against them too.

  • POSTED BY drnaveed on | February 10, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    i agree with Sir_Freddie_Flintoff. furthermore,seems the whole BD is awaken after 42 years after independence, were they sleeping before that ?????. sports and politics are two different things, and they should remain separated, and players should not involve themselves in the politics , yes they can join politics after their retirement. seems some one is there behind all this , and you know WHO, ???

  • POSTED BY Andre2 on | February 10, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    I am surprised that this piece of news is published by Cricinfo - a web site about Cricket. The Bangla cricketers who participated at this rally went there because they are Bangladesh citizens, not because they are cricketers ! I have made the same comments regarding Imran Khan (Pak.), Tendulkar (India), Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka) and plenty of others who have had a life in politics after cricket. We are mostly interested here by their performances as cricketers, not as politicians.

  • POSTED BY bad_boy on | February 10, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    To take a stand on crimes against humanity is not a crime...

  • POSTED BY Fuad_bs on | February 10, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    For those of you who don't know anything about the incident, let me tell you that this is not any political activity. This protest has been organised by the people of Bangladesh via facebook fan page. In fact, people are throwing shoes on the political leaders if they are coming their to promote their political activity. And as Bangladeshi citizen cricketers are doing what Bangladeshis citizens should do. There is nothing to do with politics. All are fad up with injustice and people are no more willing to give a single chance to any injustice taken place in Bangladesh. So before you people comment, try knowing what is happening here at first!

  • POSTED BY on | February 10, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    I think players have participated because they know if they dont, what will going to happened with them. I think they should not be there with BCB protocol. This is wrong.