The longest-serving prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, turns 75 on Tuesday. On her birthday, here are few pictures of her struggles and achievements
September 28, 1947
A star is born
Born at Tungipara in Gopalganj district, Sheikh Hasina is the eldest of five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa.
Education and student politics
Sheikh Hasina is elected vice president of the Students' Union of Eden Girls College in 1966. She also becomes president of Eden Intermediate Girls College Chhatra League. She joins as a member of Chhatra League of Dhaka University and secretary of the Rokya Hall Chhatra League unit.
Sheikh Hasina actively participates in the Mass Uprising of 1969. She graduates from Dhaka University in 1973.
November 17, 1968
Even as the Pakistani government harasses Bangabandhu, he arranges for Sheikh Hasina to marry eminent nuclear scientist Dr M Wazed Miah.
Together they have two children: Sajeeb Wazed Joy and Saima Wazed Putul.
August 15, 1975
Assassination of the family
Sheikh Hasina’s entire family is brutally assassinated by treacherous elements of the army. Only she and her sister Sheikh Rehana survive the conspiracy as they are on a visit to West Germany.
Return from exile
Sheikh Hasina is forced to live in exile as restrictions are put on her return home by the then government. She is elected president of Awami League while in exile in 1981.
May 17, 1981
As resistance mounted against the military regime, Sheikh Hasina makes an emotional return to Bangladesh after six years. Millions of ecstatic supporters receive her and flock to the roads from the airport to Dhanmondi.
1983 — 1985
Struggle and confinement
Sheikh Hasina forms a 15 party alliance leading to a powerful student movement protesting against the military government. On February 14, 1983 the army enters the Dhaka University campus, fires bullets and used batons to quell the agitated students.
On February 15, as she protested the brutality during a peaceful rally at the Shaheed Minar, Sheikh Hasina is arrested and taken blindfolded to Dhaka cantonment along with her associates. She is kept incommunicado for 15 days.
In 1984 she is put under house arrest in February and November. In March 1985, she is put under house arrest for three months at a stretch.
She is eventually released due to growing public pressure.
March 26, 1986
Election under the dictator
Sheikh Hasina takes part in the election held by the Ershad regime. She becomes leader of the opposition in parliament with 104 seats. She forces the Treasury Bench to withdraw a number of bills which went against the fundamental rights of the people.
November 10, 1987 — January 24, 1988
Rage of military regime
During a demonstration in front of the government secretariat, the police open fire on Sheikh Hasina and try to lift her car with a crane while she was leaving the National Press Club. In the face of strong resistance from the people, the police fail to arrest her and she is able to slip out of the car.
On January 24, 1988, while she addresses a public meeting in Chittagong, police fire on the crowd, killing 80 people and narrowly missing Sheikh Hasina and her aides.
November 6, 1990 — December 4, 1990
Down with the tyrant
Sheikh Hasina announces a constitutional formula for peaceful transfer of power. She is confined again on November 27, 1990. She is later released in the face of a mass protests over her arrest.
General Ershad steps down on December 4.
1992 — 1995
Leader of opposition
Despite not winning the polls, she launches a countrywide campaign for farmers and workers. In June 1993, she addresses the NGO conference held in Vienna. In 1994, Sheikh Hasina succeeds in bringing the other opposition leaders together. In this year she is elected the vice president of the Eastern Vision Forum.
In 1995, she raises her voice for the punishment of the gang of policemen who raped and killed a teenage girl in Dinajpur. In 1995, Sheikh Hasina aids the victims who were protesting the artificial fertilizer crisis created by the BNP government. Police open fire on the protesters and 18 are killed.
June 23, 1996 — December 12, 1996
First term as prime minister
On June 23, 1996, Sheikh Hasina assumes office as the prime minister for the first time. On December 12, 1996, Sheikh Hasina signs the 30-year Ganges Water Treaty with India.
December 2, 1997
Peace in the hills
Sheikh Hasina ends the 25-year long insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by signing a peace accord with Parbatyo Chattagram Jono Shonghoti Samiti.
October 1, 2001 — August 21, 2004
Sheikh Hasina becomes leader of the opposition again. The BNP-Jamaat government carries out a campaign of violence against Awami League activists.
On August 21, 2004, government-backed terrorists attack an Awami League meeting, killing many Awami League activists. Former minister Shah AMS Kibria and Ahsanullah Master are also killed by terrorists. After the attack, Sheikh Hasina aids the families who lost their family members. She remains vocal against the tyranny of BNP-Jamaat government at all times.
2006 — July 16, 2007
Two years of darkness
After the tyrannical period of BNP-Jamaat, the caretaker government comes to power. The caretaker government tries to remove Sheikh Hasina from the political landscape, and an attempt to restrict her return from the USA is foiled by massive protests by her supporters.
The caretaker government also puts forth false allegations against Sheikh Hasina and tries to incite hatred among the people towards Awami League. On July 16, 2007 the then-government arrests her on false charges of extortion during her tenure.
December 29, 2008
Return to democracy
Sheikh Hasina becomes prime minister for the second time as the Awami league wins in a landslide victory. Domestic and international observers declare the election as a free, fair and credible election.
January 5, 2014
Sheikh Hasina becomes prime minister for the third time after Awami League wins the election boycotted by BNP.
August 24, 2017
When around a million Rohingyas flee to Bangladesh to escape the persecution of the Myanmar army, Bangladesh welcomes them with open arms and provides them with food and shelter.
With well over a million refugees in what is the fastest-growing and possibly the largest refugee camp in the world, the Sheikh Hasina-led government did not reject anyone who came seeking shelter, unlike many other countries.
September 12, 2017
Mother of humanity
Sheikh Hasina boldly proclaims: “If we can feed 160m, we can also feed 700,000 Rohingya refugees.”
She receives worldwide acclaim as there were concerns that there was a dearth of food and aid for the Rohingya people.
Soon after, people begin to address her as the “Mother of Humanity” for her remarkable compassion and outstanding leadership in handling perhaps the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century.
September 22, 2017
Harbinger of solutions
At the 2017 United Nations General Assembly, she raises the Rohingya issue and proposes a five-point plan which would see the Myanmar government cease their genocidal activities, repatriate and rehabilitate the Rohingya, dispatch a UN fact-finding mission to Myanmar, and ensure a stern global watch on the country to prevent further violence.
September 25, 2018
A thorough leader
A year after her remarkable proposal at the 2017 UN General Assembly, Sheikh Hasina returns in 2018 to once again stress that the Rohingya crisis remains to be resolved. She lays out three key points, the fulfilment of which would ensure the crisis would not only be adequately addressed, but also the victims rehabilitated and the sinister elements behind the violence uprooted.
Hasina wins her third consecutive term, her fourth overall, when her Bangladesh Awami League wins 288 of the 300 parliamentary seats in the 11th general elections
September 28, 2021
While she turns 75 on Tuesday, Sheikh Hasina rests very little as she continues to handle matters of the state throughout her day. She is among the very few government leaders who are seldom, if ever, known to take vacations.
Like all leaders, she has numerous critics. But it would be a fallacy to deny that without her iron will that has seen her endure through the tragic and violent loss of her family, life in exile, tyranny of a military dictator, dozens of assassination attempts, and house arrest, Bangladesh would have been a country for the worse.
The brilliance of Sheikh Hasina is not just an echo of her eminent father sharing the same resilience and commitment to the betterment of the people. Her legacy continues to be built – a legacy that is shaping the present and future of Bangladesh. She has not been swayed by threats domestic or foreign, always taking the challenge as yet another surmountable odd that only she can even out.
Happy 75th birthday Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We thank you for your tireless service and commitment to the people and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.