WORLDPOST

Tahrir Square in Dhaka

02/20/2013 06:20 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2013

Something extraordinary has happened in the last few days in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Young men and women, from all walks of life, are occupying a major square in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. They are protesting the political compromise reflected in the verdict of one of the war criminals whose participation and guilt in the genocide of Bangalees in 1971 was proven beyond a shadow of doubt.

It is amazing with so many organized political parties, the leadership of the movement, at this point, belongs not to any political group or organization. This grassroots movement is tired of the political shenanigans and has a dream of a more just and truly democratic Bangladesh.
People have been spontaneously out on the streets since the afternoon of February 5. Some have taken charge of directing and managing the crowd. Others chant slogans demanding capital punishment to war criminals. One student said:

"Many of us who are working together right now on the ground had never met each other before. In fact, I knew many of my comrades only by their pen names on blogs, not by their real names or identities."

They are no longer narrowly focused on the death penalty. They have declared a six-point demand echoing the historic six points of the Bangladesh liberation struggle. These include amending the International Crimes (tribunals) Act 1973 to ensure fair trial; banning Jamaat as a clerical-fascist political group in Bangladesh; and making the war crimes tribunals permanent until justice is done. Though they fall short of broader political demands, this step shows quick political learning is taking place.

In spite of many weaknesses that are inevitable in a spontaneous mass movement, people are learning from their own experience. Like the young people in Tahrir Square, they are part of a global movement for winning and deepening democracy. They know, instinctively, the old world can not fulfill their yearnings for a good life, and a new, better world can not be born without the active self-organizing movements of people from below. There is much to learn from these courageous young people.