Bangladesh: Ex-Prime Ministers behind bars

People say that there is never a dull day in Bangladesh politics. Today (September 3, 2007)early in the morning the military-backed (care-taker) interim government in Bangladesh had arrested former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia on corruption charges. His son was also arrested on the same charge. Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying has detailed timeline of the events leading to her arrest. It was surprisingly a televised event as the news of the arrest was leaked and the media people were trailing the security forces convoy rolling to her house.

Earlier in midnight a case was filed against her where she was accused of favoring her son misusing her power by awarding contracts to a local company, when she was in power. Her elder son is already behind bars and also facing corruption charges. She will share a makeshift detention center in the parliament compound with her longtime political rival another ex Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who was also detained on charges of corruption.

Dozens of high profile Bangladeshi politicians and businessmen are behind the bar because of the governments ongoing battle against corruption and cleansing of the politics in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is under a state of emergency since January 11, 2007, when this interim government was formed.

The Bangladeshi blogosphere has mixed feelings over this issue. Shafiur of imperfect|world|2007 is delighted to hear this news and is distributing misti (sweets) on the net.

She and her son Koko have not been upfront about their various financial activities, and so it is hoped they will be helped to become more transparent in special quarters set aside for them.

People were discussing since the arrest of Sheikh Hasina about one and a half months ago why no charges were being brought against Khaleda Zia. There are also speculations that a certain quarter is trying to get rid of these political icons and use the space to clinch power. The Voice of Bangladeshi Bloggers comments:

Finally, the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the mother of all corruption, has been arrested by the army backed care taker government. They're now trying to balance their action by arresting Khaleda Zia.

Khaleda Zia told in an exclusive interview with hours before the arrest:

“I'm not afraid of arrest. People are with me. The case against me is false.”

Dhaka blog comments on Khaleda Zia's remarks:

I just don't like politicians from every party crying out “the cases against me are false” and “conspiracy” every time they suffer political intimidation. If there were really these many “conspiracies” in Bangladesh, our GDP would have shot up a bit more!

But the question still remains whether this will pave the way towards restoring democracy in Bangladesh. Rumi writes in Drishtipat Blog ironically:

A significant number of people have been blaming two main political leaders for all the vice of Bangladesh. Now as both the causes of the all the evil are effectively contained in jail cells, so a sun of eternal lasting peace is supposed to rise in the horizon today. People should start living in immense joy, peace and happiness. No more there should be any chaos, corruption, poverty, lawlessness, hunger, crime in this country. There would be everlasting peace.

People commenting on this post also had mixed reactions. While some were gleeful and lauded the government one questioned:

Interesting to see that we, Bangladeshis, judge situation by heart; not by brain. None of the allegations are proved against KZ or SH, though some bloggers are ready to hang them till death!

The country is suffering from high inflation and recent unrest after riot broke out with students and police over withdrawing an army camp from a university campus led to declaration of curfew. The care-taker government promised holding of election by end of 2008 after completing a massive new voter ID project.


  • […] was also cross-posted in Global Voices Online and The 3rd world View […]

  • framon

    Our present regime say that most of our polical leaders are bad. Only the are good people. Only they can do the best for bangladesh. When so is, then I have a simple question. Why they govern the country with “state of emergency, ban politics, state of terror with their police, army, BDR, Jail etc.” Why they fear from people?
    Just give people their fundamental freedom. May be they go to the street and say “Hurra, My God Mr. Moeen U Ahmed”, yor are the best. Yor will be the president of Bangladesh. Yor will be the President of the World, USA and Space.

  • Cyberspace Walker

    This is an open appeal to international journalists covering the recent developments in Bangladesh. The current unelected foreign advisor Ifthekhar Choudhury who is also the brother-in-law of Fakruddin Ahmed, has been flying all over the world meeting world dignitaries justifying the cause of the interim setup. He is reportedly also signing deals and agendas that should not have been taken up by an unelected, undemocratic military-backed regime. His whirlwind lavish unnecessary trips on behalf of a flood-stricken poor country is draining Bangladesh of millions of takas. At this critical juncture he ought to have concentrated on holding a free and fair election by the end of 2007 and hand over power to an elected parliament. It is alleged that he is wasting our valuable foreign currency on trips that are actually tailored to land him a lucrative international job once he like the rest of the unelected US-UK-UN and army-backed members of the so-called caretaker government exits the scenario. The sooner the better.

    This illegitimate government is resorting to harsh and repressive measures. Today there is gross violation of human rights in Bangladesh. There is no press freedom. Freedom of speech has been snatched away through draconian decrees. The most popular TV shows have been closed down which reflects the fascist nature of this illegitimate junta. CSB 24 hours news channel has been deliberately shut down and their eyes are now focused on Ekushey-TV because of its openness and fairness in constructive democracy-loving journalism. It may be mentioned that Ekushey-TV was once victimized in 2002-03 by the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance government (reputed for championing Bangladesh in corruption) at the insistence of the war criminal infested Jamaat. That was an attempt by the Islamic fundamentalists to wipe out secular elements from the press. It is very sad to see that the same trend continues under this fascist government which is basically composed of beneficiaries and former officials of the past BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami government. It is very surprising to note that two former Jamaat-e-Islami ministers who headed industries, agriculture and social welfare portfolios have mysteriously escaped unscathed. Had there been a real caretaker government it would have taken them into custody for war crimes perpetrated during the War of Independence before arresting the former PMs under emergency powers.

    This government is so repressive that it has inhumanely beaten students and treated teachers uncourteously. As of today many of them including ast vice-chancellors have been mistreated, verbally abused and insulted by the ISI-styled and trained DFI and NSI (secret police acting through fear, terror and intimidation) of Bangladesh. DFI and NSI have slowly been taken over by the Jamaat-e-Islami followers during the reign of BNP-Jamaat alliance rule from 1991-1996 and 2001-2006. These Islamic fundamentalist officers have even received training in the US reminiscent of the Taliban getting the same special treatment by the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

    My plea to the international press is to ask them to confront Ifthekhar on his next self-made trip abroad with an array of questions on the sorry state of human rights under this fascist junta run by opportunists and sycophants with Jamaat-e-Islami leaning members of the pat BNP-Jamaat government. I am sure there are many self chalked-out trips abroad for Ifthekar up his sleeves to promote his self-interests belittling Bangladesh’s image. So the journalists will not have to wait long to get hold of him as is the case with the Burmese foreign minister.

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