Happy Birthday | HPM Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina born 28 September 1947 also known by her married name Sheikh Hasina Wazed (Bengali: শেখ হাসিনা ওয়াজেদ), is a Bangladeshi politician who has been serving as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh since January 2009. She previously served as prime minister from June 1996 to July 2001. She is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Bangladesh, having served for a combined total of over 17 years.
The longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina turns 74 on Tuesday. On her birthday, here are few pictures of her struggles and achievements.
HPM Sheikh Hasina has been considered one of the most powerful women in the world, ranking 39th on Forbes Magazine’s list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2020, 26th in 2018, and 30th in 2017. She has also made a list of “top 100 Global Thinkers” of the present decade. Hasina is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former female presidents and prime ministers. Sheikh Hasina was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World of 2018. Reporters Without Borders in 2021 characterized Sheikh Hasina as a predator for curbing press freedom in Bangladesh since 2014.
Sheikh Hasina was born in Tungipara, East Pakistan, on 28 September 1947. Her father was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nations and the first President of Bangladesh. Her mother was Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib. She has said in many interviews that she had grown up in fear due to her father’s political works. She married physicist M. A. Wazed Miah in 1968, who was chosen for her by her father. During the peak of violence during the 1970 Pakistani general election, as well as her father’s arrest, she had lived in refuge with her grandmother. She was active in the student politics of the University of Dhaka & also in the university hall.
Early political career
Hasina was not in Bangladesh when her father, and most of her family, were assassinated on 15 August 1975 during a military coup d’état by renegade officers of the Bangladesh Army. She was in West Germany with her husband, M. A. Wazed Miah, who was working as a nuclear physicist. She moved to New Delhi in late 1975 having been granted asylum by India. Her son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, studied at Indian boarding schools. During her time in India, Hasina was not involved in politics but became close friends with Suvra Mukherjee, wife of the future Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Hasina was barred from returning to Bangladesh until after she was elected to lead the Awami League on 16 February 1981, and arrived home on 17 May 1981. She is the aunt of British MP Tulip Siddiq.
1981–1991: Movement against military rule
While living in exile in India, Hasina was elected President of the Awami League (AL) in 1981. The AL has been described as a “left-of-center” party.
Under martial law, Hasina was in and out of detention throughout the 1980s. In 1984, she was put under house arrest in February and again in November. In March 1985, she was put under house arrest for another three months. Her party, along with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) under Khaleda Zia, continued to work to restore a democratically elected government, which they achieved by the democratic election in 1991, won by the BNP.
1996–2001: First premiership
The Awami League (AL), 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 Bangladesh Nationalist Party (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 the BNP could resolve the issue by acceding to their demands. In late 1995, the MPs of the AL and other parties resigned en masse from parliament. Parliament completed its five-year term and the February 1996 general election was held. The election was boycotted by all major parties except the ruling BNP, who won all the seats in the parliament as a result. Hasina described the election as a farce.
The new Parliament, composed almost entirely of BNP members, amended the constitution to create provisions for a caretaker government (CTG). The June 1996 general election was held under a neutral caretaker government headed by retired Chief Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman. The AL won 146 seats, a plurality, but fell short of a simple majority. Khaleda Zia, leader of the BNP who won 104 seats, denounced the results and alleged vote-rigging. This was in contrast with the neutral observers who said that the election was free and fair.
Hasina served her first term as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001. She became the first Bangladeshi prime minister since independence to complete an entire five-year term.
2001–2008: Opposition period
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 Jalil 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 (Dhaka grenade attack)
During her second term as leader of the opposition, political unrest and violence increased. MP Ahsanullah Master died after he was shot in May 2004. This was followed by a grenade attack on 21 August at an Awami League gathering in Dhaka, resulting in the death of 24 party supporters, including Ivy Rahman, party women’s secretary. In October 2018, a special court gave verdicts in two cases filed over the incident; the court ruled that it was a well-orchestrated plan, executed through abuse of state power, and all the accused, including BNP Senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman (in absentia) and former top intelligence officials, were found guilty. The court prescribed various punishments. Shah A M S Kibria, Hasina’s former finance minister, was also killed that year (2004) in a grenade attack in Sylhet.
2006–2008: Detention during the caretaker government and military intervention
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 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 all parties to the table. The AL and its allies protested and alleged that the caretaker government favored the BNP.
The interim period was marred with 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 the nomination of Hussain Muhammad Ershad was canceled. As a result, the Grand Alliance withdrew its candidates en masse on the last day possible. They demanded that a voters’ roll be published.
Later in the month, President Iajuddin Ahmed was compelled to declare a state of emergency. Consequently, Lt General Moeen Uddin Ahmed took control of the Government. Political activity was prohibited. Fakhruddin Ahmed became the chief advisor with the support of the Bangladesh Army.
In April 2007, Hasina was charged with graft and extortion by the military-backed Caretaker Government during the 2006–2008 political crisis. She was accused of having forced businessman Tajul Islam Farooq to pay bribes in 1998 before his company could build a power plant. Farooq said that he paid Hasina for approving his project. Hasina fled the country. First to the United States, and then to the United Kingdom.
On 18 April 2007, the Government barred Hasina from returning, stating that she had made provocative statements and that her return could cause the disorder. This was described as a temporary measure. The Caretaker Government 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 was dropped. After spending 51 days in the United States and the United Kingdom, 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.
On 16 July 2007, Hasina was arrested by 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 jail on the premises of the National Parliament. The AL 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 within one week. Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy was out of the country and said he would try to organize a 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 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 AL and rival party activists. Hasina was visiting the United States at the time.
On 30 July 2007, the 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. 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 the AL won 12 out of 13 mayoral elections. The caretaker government extended her two-month medical parole by one more month.
New York, September 24, 2021 (BSS): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today addressed the 7th session of the UN General Assembly. Following in the footsteps of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he delivered speeches in Bengali as in previous years.
She gave the nation a new vision – Vision 2021, transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country. She gave Bangladeshis the dream of Digital Bangladesh- an IT-based country. Four decades into independence, she has brought solace for 3 million martyrs and their families by initiating the much-awaited war crimes trial.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the country to witness the economy growing at a record pace. Her prudent leadership ensured the primary school enrolment rate reaching the highest it has ever been. Her visionary approaches to women empowerment earned her global acclamation. During her first tenure, she made the peace treaty – ending the decades-long conflict in CHT. Most importantly, she is the custodian of the spirit of the 1971-Liberation War of Bangladesh.