The Bangladesh government on Thursday executed Abdul Quader Mullah [JURIST news archive], Assistant Secretary General of the opposition Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [official website; Global Security backgrounder] party. Mollah was convicted by Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (ICTB) [official website] for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [Bangladesh News backgrounder] and sentenced to life in prison; however, in September the Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] sentenced Mollah to death [JURIST report] without appeal. Mullah's execution has sparked [Al Jazeera report] widespread protests throughout the country, with opposition groups calling for a countrywide strike on Sunday.
The war crimes tribunal has led to increased unrest and clashes between protestors and security forces throughout the nation. Earlier this week two UN human rights experts on urged [JURIST report] the Bangladesh government to halt the execution of Mullah, advocating that the right of appeal is particularly important in death penalty cases, separating "possibly permitted" capital punishment from summary execution, "which by definition violates human rights standards." In August Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] documenting brutality by Bangladeshi security forces in responding to street protests, resulting in the death of at least 150 protesters and the injury of at least 2,000 since February. HRW issued [JURIST report] an appeal to JI in March to end violent protests and clashes between the group's supporters and Bangladeshi police, which resulted in at least 46 deaths [BBC report] that month alone. Appeals to members of JI to respect the rule of law and engage in peaceful exchange have been made particularly difficult by an August ruling by a Bangladeshi high court declaring the organization an illegal political party [JURIST report].