Leaders

Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina Wazed
শেখ হাসিনা ওয়াজেদ
Sheikh Hasina in London 2011.jpg
 
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 January 2009
President Iajuddin Ahmed
Zillur Rahman
Abdul Hamid
Preceded by Fakhruddin Ahmed (Acting)
In office
23 June 1996 – 15 July 2001
President Abdur Rahman Biswas
Shahabuddin Ahmed
Preceded by Muhammad Habibur Rahman (Acting)
Succeeded by Latifur Rahman (Acting)
Leader of the Opposition
In office
10 October 2001 – 29 October 2006
Preceded by Khaleda Zia
Succeeded by Khaleda Zia
In office
20 March 1991 – 30 March 1996
Preceded by Abdur Rab
Succeeded by Khaleda Zia
In office
7 May 1986 – 3 March 1988
Preceded by Asaduzzaman Khan (1982)
Succeeded by Abdur Rab
Leader of the Awami League
Incumbent
Assumed office
16 February 1981
Preceded by Abdul Malek Ukil
 
Personal details
Born (1947-09-28) 28 September 1947 
Tungipara, East Pakistan
(now Bangladesh)
Political party Awami League
Other political
affiliations
Grand Alliance (2008–present)
Spouse(s) Wazed Miah (m. 1968; d. 2009)
Relations See Sheikh-Wazed family
Children
  • Saima
  • Sajeeb
Parents Mujibur Rahman (Father)
Fazilatunnesa Mujib (Mother)
Alma mater Eden Mohila College
University of Dhaka
Signature

Sheikh Hasina Wazed (Bengali: শেখ হাসিনা ওয়াজেদ; English: /ˈʃk həˈsnə/, SHAYK hə-SEE-nə; ) is the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in office since January 2009.

Hasina’s political career has spanned more than four decades. She previously served as opposition leader from 1986 to 1990 and from 1991 to 1995, as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001, and has been leading the Bangladesh Awami League since 1981 In 2008, she returned as Prime Minister with a landslide victory. In January 2014, she became Prime Minister for a third term in an unopposed election, violating the key rules of the Constitution.

Hasina is one of the most powerful women in the world, ranking 36th on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2016. Hasina is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers. In 2017 Hasina has been featured distinctively in a book named Women Presidents and Prime Ministers as one of the 18 current women national leaders of the world.

Two of the most outstanding achievements of Sheikh Hasina are her leadership-roles behind the trials of Bangabandhu killers and the persons who committed crimes against humanity in 1971.

Hasina’s second term (2009 to 2013) as Prime Minister is overshadowed by quite a few scandalous incidents. These include: Padma Bridge Scandal, Hallmark-Sonali Bank Scam, Share market Scandal, Rana Plaza collapse, and Railway Ministry bribery scandal.

For the better part of the last two decades, Hasina’s chief rival has been BNP leader Khaleda Zia, and their rivalry is popularly known as the “Battle of Begums”. The two women have alternated as non-interim Prime Ministers since 1991.

Early life

Sheikh Hasina was born in Tungipara, East Bengal on 28 September 1947. She is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, first president of Bangladesh, and Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib. As she said in many interviews that she had grown up in fear due to her father’s political works. During the peak of violence of the 1970 Elections in Pakistan as well as her father’s arrest she had lived in refuge with her grandmother. Saying “I was not allowed to go to the school. Because I had to cross the canal by a wooden bridge, she was very much afraid that if I fall from this wooden bridge I will fall in the river”. She was active in the student politics of Dhaka University. Hasina was not in Bangladesh when her father was assassinated on 15 August 1975. She was not allowed to return to the country until after she was elected to lead the Awami League Party in 16 February 1981 and arrived on 17 May 1981.

Early political career

Chairperson of Bangladesh Awami League

Movement against General Ershad’s presidency

While living in self-exile in India after her father and family’s assassination in 1975 (only she and a sister survived as they were in West Germany), Hasina was elected President of the Bangladesh Awami League in 1981. The Awami League has been described as a “left-of-center” party.

Hasina was in and out of detention throughout the 1980s. In 1984, Hasina was put under house arrest in February and again in November. In March 1985, she was put under house arrest for three months. Her party, along with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Ziaur Rahman’s widow Khaleda Zia, continued to work to restore democratically elected government, which they achieved by the democratic election in 1991, won by the BNP.

Leader of the opposition, 1986-87

Hasina and the Awami League participated in the 1986 parliamentary elections held under President Ershad. She served as the leader of the opposition in 1986–1987. Hasina’s decision to take part in the election had been criticised by her opponents, since the election was held under the martial law, and the other main opposition group, led by Khaleda Zia, boycotted the poll. However, her supporters maintained that she used the platform effectively to challenge Ershad’s rule. Ershad dissolved the parliament in December 1987 when Hasina and her Awami League resigned from the parliament in an attempt to call for a fresh general election to be held under a neutral government. During November and December in 1987, mass uprising happened in Dhaka, several people were killed including Noor Hossain, a Hasina supporter.

1991 election

After several years of autocratic rule, widespread protests and strikes created so much unrest that the economy was not functioning. A huge mass protest in December 1990 ousted General Ershad from the power, who resigned in favour of his Vice President Justice Shahabuddin. The caretaker government, headed by Shahabuddin Ahmed, the Chief Justice of the Bangladesh Supreme Court, administered a general election for the parliament. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Khaleda Zia won a general majority, and Hasina’s Awami League emerged as the largest opposition party. Among 3 constituencies Hasina fought, she lost in two and won in one. Accepting election defeat, Hasina offered resignation as the party president but stayed on at the request of party leaders.

1991–1996

Politics in Bangladesh took a decisive turn in 1994, after Magura by-elections. This election was held after the death of the MP for that constituency, a member of Hasina’s party. The Awami League expected to win back the seat. But the BNP candidate won through rigging and manipulation, as per the neutral observer who came to witness the election.

1996 elections

The Awami League, with other opposition parties, demanded that the next general elections be held under a neutral caretaker government, and that provision for caretaker governments to manage elections be incorporated in the constitution. The ruling BNP refused to act on these demands.

Opposition parties launched an unprecedented campaign, calling strikes for weeks on end. The government accused them of destroying the economy while the opposition countered that BNP could solve this problem by acceding to their demands. In late 1995, the MPs of the Awami League and other parties resigned from the parliament. Parliament completed its term and a general election was held on 15 February 1996. The election was boycotted by all major parties except the ruling BNP. Hasina described the election as a farce.

The new parliament, composed mostly of BNP members, amended the constitution to create provisions for a caretaker government (CTG). The next parliamentary elections on 30 June 1996 were held under a neutral caretaker government headed by retired chief Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman.

First term as Prime Minister, 1996-2001

Hasina with US President Bill Clinton at the Prime Minister's Office in Dhaka, 2000.
Hasina with US President Bill Clinton at the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka, 2000.

Sheik Hasina Wazed served her first term as prime minister of Bangladesh from 1996-2001.She became the first Bangladeshi Prime Minister since its independence to complete the entire term. She signed the 30 year water sharing treaty of the Ganges with India. Her administration repealed the Indemnity Act, which protected the killers of Sheikh Muijib, her father and the first president of Bangladesh. Her government opened the telecom industry to the private sector which till then was limited to government owned companies. In 1999 the government started the New Industrial Policy (NIP) which aimed to strengthen the private industry and encourage growth.

Bangladesh joined two multilateral bodies, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and D-8 (D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation). The NIP allowed foreign companies to open 100 percent owned subsidiaries.

2001 election

In the 2001 election, although winning 40% of the popular vote (slightly less than the BNP’s 41%), the Awami League won just 62 seats in the Parliament, while the ‘Four Party Alliance’ led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party won 234 seats, giving them a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Hasina herself ran in three constituencies, and was defeated in a constituency in Rangpur, which included her husband’s home town, but won in two other seats. Hasina and the Awami League rejected the results, claiming that the election was rigged with the help of the President and the caretaker government. The international community was largely satisfied with the elections, and the ‘Four Party Alliance’ went on to form the government.

Opposition period, 2001-2008

The Awami League MPs were irregular in attending the Parliament during the following period. In late 2003, the Awami League started its first major anti-government movement, culminating in the declaration by party general secretary Abdul Jolil that the government would fall before 30 April 2004. This failed to happen and was seen as a blow to the party and Hasina, who had implicitly supported Jalil.

2004 assassination attempt

In June 2005, A.B.M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury, an incumbent of the Awami League, won the important mayoral election in Chittagong, the port city and second-largest city in Bangladesh. This election was seen as a showdown between the opposition and the ruling party.

Caretaker government and military intervention, October 2006–2008

The months preceding the planned 22 January 2007 elections were filled with political unrest and controversy. Following the end of Khaleda Zia’s government in late October 2006, there were protests and strikes, during which 40 people were killed in the following month, over uncertainty about who would head the caretaker government. The caretaker government had difficulty bringing the all parties to the table. Awami League and its allies protested and alleged that the caretaker government favored the BNP.

The interim period was marked by violence and strikes. Presidential Advisor Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury negotiated with Hasina and Khaleda Zia and brought all the parties to the planned 22 January 2007 parliamentary elections. Later Hussain Muhammad Ershad’s nomination was cancelled; as a result, the Grand Alliance withdrew its candidates en masse on the last day possible. They demanded to have voters’ lists published.

Later in the month, the president Iajuddin Ahmed was compelled to impose a state of emergency and thus Lt General Moeen Uddin Ahmed took over the government.Political activity was prohibited. Fakhruddin Ahmed became the chief advisor with the support of Bangladesh army.

July 2007 arrest

On 16 July 2007, Hasina was arrested by state police at her home and taken before a local court in Dhaka. She was accused of extortion and denied bail, and was held in a building converted into a jail on the premises of the National Parliament. The Awami League said the arrest was politically motivated. On 17 July 2007, the Anti-Corruption Commission sent notices to both Hasina and Khaleda Zia, instructing them to provide details of their assets to the Commission within one week. Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy was out of the country, and said he would try to organise worldwide protest. These arrests of the political leaders were widely seen as a move by the military-backed interim government to force Hasina and Zia out of the country and into political exile. United Kingdom MPs condemned the arrest.

On 30 July 2007, the Dhaka High Court suspended Hasina’s extortion trial and ordered her release on bail. On 2 September 2007, an additional case was filed against Hasina by the Anti-Corruption Commission regarding the awarding of a contract for the construction of a power plant in 1997, for which she allegedly took a bribe of 30 million takas and kept the contract from going to the lowest bidder. Six others were also accused of involvement. A graft case was filed against Zia on the same day. On 13 January 2008, Hasina was indicted on extortion charges by a special court along with two of her relatives, her sister Sheikh Rehana and her cousin Sheikh Selim. On 6 February, the High Court stopped the trial, ruling that she could not be prosecuted under emergency laws for crimes alleged to have been committed prior to the imposition of the state of emergency.

On 11 June 2008, Hasina was released on parole for medical reasons. The next day she flew to the United States to be treated for hearing impairment, eye problems and high blood pressure. Prof. Syed Modasser Ali, her personal physician, threatened to sue the caretaker government over negligence regarding Hasina’s treatment during her detention The caretaker government held mayoral elections in which Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won 12 out of 13 mayoral elections. The caretaker government extended her two-month medical parole by one more month.

2008 election and return to power

Hasina with David Cameron in London (January 2011)
Hasina with David Cameron in London (January 2011)

On 6 November 2008, Hasina returned to Bangladesh to attend the Ninth National Parliamentary Elections 2008 scheduled for 29 December 2008 and decided to participate in the parliamentary election under the name of “Grand Alliance” with the Jatiya Party led by Hussain Muhammad Ershad as its main partner. On 11 December 2008, Hasina formally announced her party’s election manifesto during a news conference & vowed to build a “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021.

Her Bangladesh Awami League and its Grand Alliance (a total of 14 parties) won the general election held on 29 December 2008 with a two-thirds majority numerically the party controls 230 seats out of 299. But Khaleda Zia leader of BNP-led coalition (4-Party Alliance) rejected the results of the election by questioning the Chief Election Commissioner “for stage-managing the parliamentary election”. Finally Hasina was sworn into office as the Prime Minister for the second time on 6 January 2009.

After being Prime Minister, Hasina reneged on her agreement with Jatiya Party to make Hussain Muhammad Ershad as President.

Second term as Prime Minister, 2009-2014

Hasina removed many of her party politicians who supported reforms forced by the previous caretaker government. She had to confront a major national crisis in the form of the 2009 Bangladesh Rifles revolt. In 2012, she maintained a hardline stance and refused to allow entry to Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar during the 2012 Rakhine State riots. On 27 June 2013, a case against Hasina and 24 other Bangladeshi ministers and security personnel was lodged at the International Criminal Court. She has been “credited internationally” for the achievement of some of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. In 2012 a coup attempt against her by mid ranking army officers was stopped, with Bangladesh army being tipped off by Indian intelligence agency

In 2011, Hasina helped establish Asian University for Women (AUW).

Sheikh Hasina with G7 Leaders and Guest Invitees at Shima Kanko Hotel in Japan
Sheikh Hasina with G7 Leaders and Guest Invitees at Shima Kanko Hotel in Japan

Third term as Prime Minister, 2014-present

Hasina became the prime minister for the third time after winning the general election in January 2014 which was boycotted by the main opposition BNP led alliance. The election have been called “an electoral farce”.

In March 2017, Bangladesh’s first two submarines commissioned. In September, her government give temporary shelter and aid to Rohingya refugees and urge Myanmar to end violence against Rohingya Muslim.

Hasina is a Patron of Asian University for Women, led by Chancellor, Mrs. Cherie Blair, and including the First Lady of Japan, HE Akie Abe, as well as Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO.

Controversies

Padma Bridge Graft Scandal

Padma Bridge Scandal is the largest political scandal in Bangladesh that involved the ruling Bangladesh Awami League’s government who allegedly sought a large amount money from the Canadian construction company SNC-Lavalin in exchange for awarding them the construction contract.

As a result of this scandal, The World Bank has pulled out of a project to build Bangladesh’s largest bridge, citing corruption concerns, cancelling a $1.2bn (£764m) credit for the 6 km-long (four miles) road-rail bridge over the Padma River.

Even after the alleged bribery plot, Sheikh Hasina took three months to remove the communication minister Syed Abul Hossain from the office.

On 11 July 2012, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that Awami League government should make the letter sent by the World Bank to be public where the World Bank brought graft charges against Sheikh Hasina and three more figures.

On 16 May 2013, Canadian television channel CBC broadcast an interview with Sheikh Hasina conducted by the CBC correspondent Terence McKenna. In the interview, McKenna pointed out that Sheikh hasina was once accused by ACC of raising money through Sheikh Rehana (her younger sister), and Syed Abul Hossain was playing the role of the cashier of the party.

On 17 January 2016, Sheikh Hasina demanded that an MD of a bank from the USA provoked the WB to cancel the loan.

On 24 January 2017, in her speech in the parliament, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina blamed Muhammad Yunus for the World Bank’s pulling out of the project. According to her, Yunus lobbied with the former secretary of state of the USA Hillary Clinton to persuade the World Bank to terminate the loan.

On February 10, 2017, an Ontario (Canada) Superior court justice dismissed the bribery-conspiracy case for lack of any proof.

Criminal charges

In April 2007, Hasina was charged with graft and extortion by military backed government. She was accused of having forced Bangladeshi businessman Tajul Islam Farooq to pay bribes in 1998 before his company could build a power plant. Farooq said that he paid Hasina BDT 30 million (US$441,000, or €383,211) to get his project approved by the government.

On 11 April 2007, the police filed murder charges against Hasina, alleging that she masterminded the killing in October 2006 of four supporters of a rival political party. The four alleged victims were beaten to death during clashes between the Awami League and rival party activists. Deputy police commissioner, Shahidul Haq Bhuiyan, said “detective branch police submitted the charge-sheet of the case to a Dhaka court today after carrying out investigations and taking evidence”. Hasina was visiting the United States at the time.

On 18 April 2007, the government barred Hasina from returning, saying that she had made provocative statements and that her return could cause disorder. This was described as a temporary measure. The CTG had also been trying to get Khaleda Zia to leave the country. Hasina vowed to return home, and on 22 April 2007, a warrant was issued for her arrest for murder. Describing the case against her as “totally false and fake”, Hasina said that she wanted to defend herself against the charges in court. On 23 April 2007, the arrest warrant was suspended, and on 25 April 2007, the ban on Hasina’s entry into the country was dropped. After spending 51 days in the United States and the UK, on 7 May 2007 Hasina returned to Dhaka, where she was greeted by a crowd of several thousand. She told reporters that the government should not have delayed her return.

Personal life

Hasina married Dr. M. A. Wazed Miah in 1968. Her husband died on 9 May 2009. She has one son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, and one daughter, Saima Wazed Hossain Putul. Joy lives in the United States, and Putul lives in Canada. Putul’s father-in-law is Former minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and present minister of LGRD, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain. Hasina’s only living sibling is Sheikh Rehana who lives in the UK.

Honours

  • Planet 50-50 champion by UN-Women.
  • Agent of Change Award by Global Partnership Forum.
  • 59th place on Forbes list of 100 most powerful women in the world.
  • Degree of Doctor of Law by the Boston University on 6 February 1997.
  • Honorary Doctor of Law by the Waseda University of Japan on 4 July 1997.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Liberal Arts by the University of Abertay Dundee on 25 October 1997.
  • The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize by the UNESCO for 1998.
  • Mother Teresa Award by the All India Peace Council in 1998.
  • M.K. Gandhi Award for 1998 by the Mahatma M K Gandhi Foundation of Oslo, Norway.
  • Awarded Medal of Distinction in 1996-97 and 1998–99 and Head of State Medal in 1996-97 by the Lions Clubs International.
  • Honorary Degree of ‘Desikottama’ (Doctor of Literature, honoris causa) by the Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal, India on 28 January 1999.
  • The Ceres Medal by the Food and Agriculture Organization for 1999.
  • Doctor of Law (honoris causa), by the Australian National University on 20 October 1999.
  • Honorary Doctor of Law by the University of Dhaka on 18 December 1999.
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by University of Bridgeport on 5 September 2000.
  • The Pearl S. Buck Award by the Randolph College on 9 April 2000.
  • Named Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation.
  • Indira Gandhi Prize for 2009.
  • Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) by the Tripura University in January 2012.
  • UNESCO Peace Tree award for her commitment to women’s empowerment and girl’s education in 2014.
  • UN environment prize for leadership on climate change.
  • Doctor of the University (Honorary) by the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University on 16 November 2015.

Sheikh Hasina Wazed

 Summary

Sheikh Hasina Wazed, byname Sheikh Hasina, Wazed also spelled Wajed (born Sept. 28, 1947, Tungipara, East Pakistan [now in Bangladesh]), Bengali politician and leader of the Awami League political party, who twice served as prime minister of Bangladesh (1996–2001; 2009– ).

Hasina was the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the principal orchestrator of Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan in 1971. In 1968 she married M.A. Wazed Miah, an eminent Bengali scientist. While at the University of Dhaka in the late 1960s, she was active in politics and served as her father’s political liaison during his imprisonment by the Pakistani government. Hasina and other members of her family also were detained, briefly in 1971 for their participation in an uprising during the war of liberation that ultimately led to Bangladesh’s independence.

On Aug. 15, 1975, Hasina’s father (who had just a few months earlier become president of Bangladesh), mother, and three brothers were assassinated in their home by several military officers. Hasina, who was out of the country when the killings occurred, subsequently spent six years in exile. During that time she was elected to the leadership of the Awami League, which had been founded by her father and had since become the largest political organization in Bangladesh.

On her return home in 1981, Hasina became a prominent and outspoken advocate of democracy, which resulted in her placement under house arrest on numerous occasions. She ultimately secured a seat as leader of the opposition in the parliament, where she condemned the violence of military rule and initiated measures to secure basic human rights for all citizens. In December 1990 the last military leader of Bangladesh, Lieut. Gen. Hussain Mohammad Ershad, resigned in response to an ultimatum issued by Hasina and broadly supported by the people of Bangladesh.

In 1991—in the first free general election to be held in Bangladesh in 16 years—Hasina failed to obtain a majority in the parliament, and governing power passed to her opponent Khaleda Zia, leader of the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Hasina and her followers accused the BNP of dishonesty during the election, and the Awami League, along with other opposition parties, boycotted the parliament. This act of defiant nonparticipation sparked violent demonstrations and plunged the country into a state of political turmoil. Although the BNP government denied all allegations of vote fraud, Khaleda succumbed to demands that she relinquish her office to a nonparty caretaker government that would oversee a new election. Hasina was elected prime minister in June 1996.

Following Khaleda’s return to power, Hasina continued her work with the Awami League in what remained a highly volatile political atmosphere. In 2004 she sustained minor injuries during a grenade attack at a political rally. In 2007—after a military-backed interim government had declared a state of emergency and canceled parliamentary elections—Hasina was arrested on charges of extortion, alleged to have taken place during her tenure as prime minister. Similarly, Khaleda was arrested on charges of corruption. Both were imprisoned. Hasina was released from jail in June 2008 and Khaleda in September. Later that year the state of emergency was lifted, and general elections were held on December 29. Running opposite Khaleda and the BNP, Hasina and the Awami League swept a solid majority into the parliament.

Hasina was sworn in as prime minister in January 2009. Four months later her husband died after a long illness. In January 2010 five former military officers who had been convicted of assassinating Hasina’s father in 1975 were executed in Dhaka, some 13 years after their trials had started during Hasina’s first term as prime minister. Later that year the government set up the first tribunal to begin trying war crimes cases stemming from the 1971 war of independence.

Main Source: Wikipedia

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