The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, Shahbag protests and political violence: a rather peculiar penal popularism, political vendetta or defence of national identity and democracy?

Since 2010 the Awarmi League Government has instituted War crimes Trials of alleged colloborators in the 1971 ‘War of Liberation’ that provided the constitutional moment and founding narrative of Blangadeshi national identity. Massive street protests broke out in February 2013 – the Shahbag movement – when Adbul Quarder Mollah was sentenced to life imprisonment demanding the death penality. The Shahbag movement was see as Bangladeshi’s paradox, liberals demanding death, and cause massive counter demonstrations. The verdicts have led to several executions of mainly Islamic opposition figures and resulting political violence resulted in the boycotting of the 2014 elections and the current constitutional ‘one party’ administration. How does one characterise this complex situation: penal popularism, political vendetta, or a sincere attempt to remedy the lack of accountability since Bangladesh’s founding moment?