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Sheikh Hasina: Legend in politics, ‘Mother of Humanity’

Rz Prince || shiningbd

Published: 13:33, 28 September 2020   Update: 13:40, 28 September 2020
Sheikh Hasina: Legend in politics, ‘Mother of Humanity’

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. File Photo

Sheikh Hasina the eldest child of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Founding Father of Bangladesh and the first president of Bangladesh, and Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was born at Tungipara in Gopalganj on September 28 in 1947. She has passed her whole child living in the village of Gopalganj. 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. She says, “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 great father was assassinated barbarically on 15 August 1975. She was not allowed to return to the country until after she was elected to lead the Awami League on 16 February 1981 and returned to Bangladesh on 17 May 1981.

 “If Rabi Thakur is the poet of  reflection and thoughts, if  Bangabandhu is the poet of politics,  then Sheikh Hasina is the poet of development.”

“If Rabi Thakur is the poet of

reflection and thoughts, if

Bangabandhu is the poet of politics,

then Sheikh Hasina is the poet of development.”

Post liberation war politics and Sheikh Hasina

The Awami League has been described as a “left-of-center” political 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 in the Ershad regime. Ershad dissolved the parliament in December 1987. During November and December that year, a mass political uprising took place in Dhaka demanding a fresh general election under a neutral caretaker government. Several people were killed.


1st caretaker government

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 favor of selected 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. In 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.


2nd caretaker government

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. Sheikh Hasina served her first term as prime minister of Bangladesh from 1996-2001. She signed the 30 year water sharing treaty of the Ganges with India. Her administration repealed the Indemnity Act, which protected the killers of the country’s Founding Father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Muijibur Rahman, 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.


3rd caretaker government

During her second term as leader of the opposition, political unrest and violence increased. Ahsanullah Master, an MP, was killed in 2004. This was followed by a grenade attack on 21 August on an Awami League gathering in Dhaka, resulting in the death of 21 party supporters, including party women’s secretary Ivy Rahman. Shah M S Kibria, Hasina’s former finance minister, was also killed that year, in a grenade attack in Sylhet that year. Caretaker government and military intervention happened in 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. Later in the month, the president Tajuddin Ahmed imposed a state of emergency. Political activity was prohibited. Fakhruddin Ahmed became the chief advisor of the caretaker government. 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.

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 Begum 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.


9th national parliamentary elections, 2008 and digital Bangladesh by 2021

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. 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” comprising 14 political parties. On 11 December 2008, Hasina formally announced her party’s election manifesto during a news conference and vowed to build a “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021. Her Bangladesh Awami League and its Grand Alliance won the general election held on 29 December 2008 with a two-thirds majority, numerically the party controls 230 seats out of 299.


10th Parliamentary election in 2014

Throughout most of 2013, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its alliance of 18 opposition parties led by BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia called more than 85 days of nationwide general strikes and blockades that brought the entire country to a grinding halt. Despite thousands of objections and demands by the opposition parties aiming to throw the state in a vacuum of politics, the Sheikh Hasina's expertise in politics and leadership save the country as well as countrymen from a crisis of sovereignty. Since the ninth parliament's mandate expires on 24 January 2014, according to the constitution of Bangladesh's Article 123(2)(a) requires a general election to be held between the dates of 26 October 2013 and 24 January 2014 or rather within 90 days before the expiration of the Parliament.[9] On 25 November 2013, the Bangladesh Election Commission announced that the 10th general election would be held on 5 January 2014. But all the opposition except Ershad led Jatiya Party, boycotted the election. As a result of the boycott, the then incumbent Bangladesh Awami League won the election with a safe majority, winning 234 seats.


11th Parliamentary Election

The 11th parliamentary of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad was held on 30th December 2019. From the lesson of boycotting the previous election in 2014, the opposition BNP took the earlier decision to participate in the 11th election. Due to the constitutional obligation, the election commission, one of the independent agencies of the state, organized the election in the scheduled time. In the election, the people of Bangladesh expressed their comprehensive support to the Awami League, the party of Liberation war through the franchise. Under the tactical leadership of Shaikh Hasina, Awami League won the election in a huge margin of 258 seats out of 300.


Sheikh Hasina’s masterful politics

Sheikh Hasina can work which rings around all of us who consider themselves as politicians. In her work is so stark one can smell the effluvia of the salted herring, breathe in the clean, cool sea air, and sink into the homey chairs at the local inns. One can also feel her emotional pain. She not only changes lives, she changes history. She belongs to those women who, by refusing to play by the rules that society handed to them, forever have altered the course of history. Hers is a women’s history, sure, but it is also a critical piece of Bangladesh’s History. Her story demonstrates how women in history are overlooked. Her gift to humanity has to be recognized to honor her work. Imagine being so famous and important she has an era be named after her name. You would either have to be incredibly lucky or really good. Hasina is probably both. She has created the persona of Sheikh Hasina, a woman who says little and makes few strong alliances. She is masterful at keeping her enemies at bay.

These discussions are relevant today. A significant amount of historical narrative is still being written by those with the most power. If you walk into any of the world’s most powerful institutions (government, academic or corporate) you will also identify that the group that are shaping history are Bangladesh’s women. No woman is known in the history of Bangladesh’s reactions and responses to the foreign power better than Sheikh Hasina.

She not only changes lives, she changes history. She belongs to those women who, by refusing to play by the rules that society handed to them, forever have altered the course of history.


Sheikh Hasina is like a rock

Sheikh Hasina is like a rock. If you strike a woman, you strike a rock. She is not a woman but a world. A strong, visionary, spirited woman whose transcendental life, or whose legendary stories, have elevated mankind with their mystique, incomparable ethereal beauty, wisdom, wit, virtue, grace, talent, kindness or exceptional courage. Start your “Extraordinary Heroines” genealogical journey, experience past worlds, stroll through the annals of world history to meet the remarkable ancestors upon whose stalwart shoulders we stand today. She personifies outstanding attributes of her times to help you capture the spirit of the times, and the mood of the moment. We will encounter the influence and persuasiveness of her power through the ages. Be awed by the transcendental qualities of the breathtaking, bold, brave women of the sacred Scriptures, and the powerful women icons of ancient, classical and civilizations. Admire the zealous, valiant, spirited, pioneering, wise women of the middle ages who paved the way for the passionate, creative, revolutionary, luminary Renaissance Thinkers.


Her ideas and experience are interesting and valuable

When you are sitting with her ... she makes you feel like your ideas and your experience are interesting and valuable. She emboldens lots of young women who are often at the bottom of the totem poll ... to feel confident enough about themselves that they have gone on to be on television or to change governments. She has made general people feel happy and cheerful.

She is a very courageous woman…She is a politician the country has ever produced! She is loyal to her country and knows exactly what it stands for. To me, a hero or a heroine is someone who is respected and does not care what others think. A hero or a heroine is someone who has done things that have made a difference, thinks for themselves, and of course, has a sense of style. The one person who matches every one of these traits is a Bengali of Bangladesh. However, this is not what she has to be remembered for. Sheikh Hasina has to be remembered for being herself. She represents her strong-mindedness and her wise decision-making ability.


Her flawless political endeavors

She has been throwing and catching several objects simultaneously in her political pursuits with her political roles and activism and intertwining all her various endeavors flawlessly. Gender disparities still exist. Such disparities undermine not only women’s capacity to participate in and benefit from development, but also the effectiveness of development as a whole. This is the reason for the PM Hasina’s insistence that illiteracy must be eliminated within a short period of time. She also feels that the general public still doesn’t view women as fully credible within the political spectrum. She has been trying to implement programs promoting the contributions and capacities of women to help sway the general public away from archaic male-biased ideologies. In everything she does, Hasina is devoted to promoting the advancement of women. She uses her various political pursuits, her political prominence, her Bangladesh’s and international connections, as well as her passionate grass-roots approach -- towards supporting female empowerment in public policies, education, science, technology, public service, culture, and within society as a whole.


A woman who does not hand out aid

She is a woman who does not hand out aid. She has been creating innovative new ways for women – and men – to lift themselves out of poverty. What is a hero? Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a hero as, “A Myth. Legend. A man (or woman) of great strength or courage…” Whom do you think of? Some might think of Superman or Gandalf. Others would say firefighters or policemen - anyone who risks their life to save someone else. My definition of a hero is someone who, even in the face of opposition, perseveres in the job people have laid out for them, continuing to trust in them. One of the people I most admire is Sheikh Hasina. Throughout all her life, she has done things for other people and not for herself. When I hear the word “hero” I instantly think of the three H’s: someone who is honorable, hardworking, and happy. When I think more about this word I picture someone who has accomplished good things for people and tries to do the right thing. Hasina is one person whom I find to be very heroic.

She seems proper and serious, even stern at times, but inside her, there seems to be a completely different person; a caring lady who is interested in other people’s lives.


Sheikh Hasina believes in the future welfare of Bangladesh

Sheikh Hasina believes that the future welfare of Bangladesh is in great part also dependent on the economic development and success of its citizens, and likewise, they are also working to improve economic conditions for the less fortunate. Her works have not gone unnoticed by the world either. In fact, she has received a number of awards and commendations for her works. She merges the roles of wife, mother, philanthropist, activist, and of course, she, seamlessly, with all facets of her life given equal dedication. As a crusader for the rights of women and children, an advocate of advancements in education, technology, and healthcare, a promoter of entrepreneurship and microfinance, and a forerunner in the battle to eradicate poverty and to bridge educational and other divides, it is clear why so many consider Sheikh Hasina to be a role model, not only for people in the South Asia, but for people everywhere. She is incredibly passionate about her work, which is what I think inspires many people to get involved and support her work.

And it’s clear the people who go through her work love her, too – they flock to her like a den mother! She is a great woman, who will forever be remembered for helping others. When someone thinks of a hero they usually think of someone who wears a mask, a cape or has superpowers, but I think a hero is someone who pushes you to be the best you can be, or to do what you want to do without caring about who you are, what you do, or how old you are.


Her motivation and direction to achieve larger goals

Whether they led a country, history’s best leaders understood the importance of providing the motivation and direction to achieve larger goals. Poor leaders lose the faith and trust of the people they lead, while great leaders seem to lead without effort. The character, actions and thoughts of a leader, good or bad, permeate an organization. Your goal should be to demonstrate the best qualities of a leader while encouraging the same from those who follow you. A political leader, or a politician, can be anyone who has taken up the responsibility of governing a tribe, city, state, region or even an entire nation. History has given us a plethora of political leaders, both good and bad, who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of their countries and the people living in the country. Political leaders are not just people who govern nations during peace times but also during times of crisis.

They are people who are responsible for making and implementing strategies and policies meant to better serve the interests of the country they govern. These leaders are chosen through various processes, some examples of which would be through elections, in a democratic nation, and through lineage or birthright, in case of a monarchy, or even dictatorships wherein one individual declares herself/ himself the head of state. A look at the political leader’s hall of fame would reveal names like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill.

Sheikh Hasina is one of the most famous names of Bangladesh’s politics who is loved by the masses. This great leader has risen to the ranks of becoming the prime minister of her country and has been serving in this position for a period of fourteen years. Her life is an excellent example of leadership that inspires people throughout the world. It is time for her to drag Bangladesh and its people and leaders into a new nation that reinvents itself, rediscovers its lost moral values, and gingered into the new global order.


The Mother of Humanity

The UK-based ‘Channel 4 News’ in September 2017 first débuted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the ‘Mother of Humanity’ after her valiant resolution to open Bangladesh-Myanmar borders for the fleeing persecuted Rohingya people from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Following this, the daughter of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina, has come to be known as the ‘Mother of Humanity’.

The persecution by the Myanmar security forces and local vigilantes on the Rohingya people in the Rakhine State has resulted in fleeing of over a million Rohingya people to Bangladesh. An estimated 738,805 Rohingya people arrived in Bangladesh within a few days since 25 August 2017 when the Myanmar military coordinated an operation, which the world came to term as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that “if my government can arrange food for over one hundred sixty million people of Bangladesh, we would also be able to feed one million people more”.

The persecution of the Rohingya people has generated a multi-dimensional and multi-layered crisis for Bangladesh ranging from economic, security, environmental, social, and political. The crisis has also severely impacted on Cox Bazar’s ecosystem, wildlife habitat, labor market, access to public services, law and order situation, etc.  Despite various challenges to the economy, ecology, and overall societal rubrics of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s decision to shelter the persecuted Rohingya people emanates from humanity alone.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes that humanitarian responses would help the forcibly displaced Rohingya people only temporarily. A durable solution of the problem is a must for the sake of humanity. Bangladesh government has engaged diplomatically with Myanmar to make sure that the Rohingya people are enabled to exercise their right to return to their own homeland.

Likewise, the world seen even in some developed parts of the world the policy of closed borders and push back of refugees, had Bangladesh followed the same script that would have resulted in the death of thousands of persecuted Rohingya people. But Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina saved the lives of thousands of Rohingya people by opening borders and providing them shelter and other humanitarian assistance, out of only her humanitarian compassion.


Honor, awards she was conferred

Her most recent role in extending humanitarian support to over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar, who have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar, drew accolade from global leaders, institutions and eminent personalities.

Asiatic Society of Kolkata honored Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious “Tagore Peace Award-2018” in recognition of her contribution to maintaining regional peace and prosperity.

President of Kolkata Asiatic Society Professor Isha Mohammed handed over the award to Sheikh Hasina at a function at Taj Mahal Hotel in the Indian capital on October 5, 2019.

She also received the prestigious ‘Vaccine Hero’ award given in recognition of Bangladesh’s outstanding success in vaccination. Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunizations (GAVI) handed over the award to the premier at a ceremony at the Conference Room of the UN Headquarters in New York during the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2019.

The premier was conferred with the award ‘Champion of Skill Development for Youth’ for Bangladesh’s great success in youth skill development. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conferred the award on the premier at a ceremony at Labouisse Hall of UNICEF House in the UN Plaza on September 26 in 2019.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore handed over the award to the prime minister amid thunderous clappings of the audience.

Sheikh Hasina also received the Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Awards-2019, introduced in memory of eminent scientist and former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.

The award was conferred upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in recognition of her commitment to a close and mutually satisfying India-Bangladesh relations, the welfare of her people, particularly women and children, and international peace and cooperation.

Chief Adviser of the Dr Kalam Smriti International Advisory Council Ambassador TP Sreenivasan handed over the accolade through a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office here on September 16, 2019.

She deserves the Nobel peace prize. The world’s renowned thinkers and educators have proposed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the unique example of humanity and peace in the Rohingya issue. Sheikh Hasina was unanimously accepted the United Nations’ philosophy of ‘people’s empowerment’ philosophy of world peace.

Sheikh Hasina was also conferred with various honourary degrees, accolades, and awards in recognition of her leadership excellence and intellectual flair. These include: honorary Doctor of Laws by the Waseda University of Japan, honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Liberal Arts by University of Abertay Dundee, UK, honorary Degree of Desikottama by Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal, India, honorary Doctor of Laws by the Australian National University, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Bridgeport University, USA, honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Dhaka, Paul Haris Fellowship by the Rotary International, UNESCO’s Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize in 1998, M K Gandhi Award in 1998, Mother Teresa Award in 1998 and 2006, Pearl S. Buck Award by Randolph Macon Women’s College of USA in 1999, CERES Medal in 1999, UN Award for MDG achievement (child mortality) in 2010, Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in 2009, South-South Award in 2011, UN Award for MDG Achievement in 2013, Rotary Peace Prize in 2013, Tree of Peace in 2014, ICT Sustainable Development Award in 2015, Champions of the Earth in 2015, Agent of Change Award in 2016 and Planet 50-50 Champion in 2016.