She says Rohingya crisis solution rests on Myanmar
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has criticized BNP leaders for their remarks regarding the 12th parliamentary elections slated for 2023.
“The BNP leadership know they don’t have any possibility of winning the elections. So, they’re trying to make it controversial, create confusion among the people and cause harm to people by any means,” she said at a press conference at her official Ganabhaban residence on Monday.
The Awami League chief hinted that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia would not be able to participate in the elections since she had been convicted in a corruption case.
On the other hand, Khaleda’s son Tarique Rahman, the acting chairman of the party, was sentenced to life in prison in the August 21 grenade attack case. Tarique has been in London since September 11, 2008 on medical grounds after securing parole in various cases.
“Why will people vote for them? Is there any reason? They don’t believe that they can win the polls,” Sheikh Hasina said in response to a question.
On the Election Commission, the premier said that the country’s president would form a search committee to constitute the new commission.
The tenure of the present EC, led by KM Nurul Huda, will come to an end in February next year.
The press conference was arranged to inform the media about the outcome of the Prime Minister’s two-week tour to join the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where she spoke for the 18th time as the head of government. She returned home on October 1.
Some journalists attended the two-hour-long press conference at Ganabhaban, while others were connected from the Prime Minister’s Office through a virtual platform.
Sheikh Hasina read out her written speech and then answered more than 15 questions from journalists.
The premier presented a slideshow displaying images of people tortured during the BNP-Jamaat regime in 2001-06.
She asked everyone to make people aware of the killing of officers of the armed forces during the rule of BNP founder General Ziaur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina said measures should be taken for the formation of a commission over the killings. “As a demand has been raised about the matter (formation of a commission), I think a step should be taken to this end,” she said.
Expressing her resentment over not raising the demand for the constitution of such a commission much earlier, she said that mass awareness about the tragic incidents should be built.
Sheikh Hasina said the BNP also did not hold the trial of the killing of Ziaur Rahman.
Rather they illegally hanged 11 military officers to death for mutiny, she said, adding that she had lodged a protest against the camera trial and demanded unearthing the real matter behind the heinous act.
Sheikh Hasina also showed the audience photos of the Ashrayan project, the largest housing project in the world so far, saying that some people had damaged the houses.
“We have already taken action against the people involved in vandalizing these houses to tarnish the image of the government.”
She alleged that some people who wanted to sell poverty and others who were envious of the achievements of the Awami League government had been behind the vandalism.
The premier stated that some media outlets had published the photos of some houses damaged by the culprits, but failed to write who were behind this.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud were present on the dais at Ganabhaban, while PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim moderated the press conference.
E-commerce: Everyone will face trial
Regarding the recent collapse of some e-commerce firms, Sheikh Hasina said that the government was working to ensure that everyone responsible for fraudulent activities was punished.
She said that the government would recover the money swindled by the firms. “The affected people will get back their money.”
Land allocated for vaccine factory
The premier said Bangladesh was ready to produce Covid-19 vaccines locally.
“We’ve already allocated 10 acres of land to set up a vaccine laboratory. Now we’re trying to collect Covid-19 vaccine formula and vaccine seeds,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said during her tour of the US, she had talked to several countries and organizations to start vaccine production in Bangladesh.
‘Solution rests on Myanmar’
Without mentioning any names, the prime minister said that some people, who were benefiting from the presence of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, would not let the repatriation take place soon.
“Some elements of the international community do not respond very positively, as if everything is business to them. I am very sorry to say this but it seems that some agencies will not have any job without the Rohingyas [living in Cox’s Bazar]," she added.
She stated that the Rohingyas were getting involved in crimes like drug dealing, human trafficking and women trafficking, and had turned the green land of Cox’s Bazar into a barren field.
Afghanistan: Awareness needed
Responding to a question regarding Afghanistan and the Taliban issue, the premier said that the media needed to make people aware of the Islamist fanatics and the Taliban.
“[We’ve] nothing to fear, but all of you should make people aware of the Taliban and the recent crisis in Afghanistan," she said.
‘Do more research’
Asked if her government would take any initiative to establish any university dedicated to research, Sheikh Hasina pointed to the science and technology universities across the country.
She said had there been no research, the country would not have been able to mechanize agriculture and ensure food safety.
“Due to Covid-19, some countries are already facing a food crisis. But we still have plenty of food due to my decision regarding farming in every inch of the country,” she said.
The premier urged teachers and doctors to spend more time on research, apart from earning extra money from evening classes and private practice. “So, when will they study… when will they do research?
“It is very unfortunate that most people want a lavish life nowadays.”
In her written speech, The premier said that she went to New York to attend the 76th UNGA in person, and it was her maiden foreign tour after two years since the outbreak of Covid-19, reports BSS.
She said: "I was busy during my stay in New York and joined 10 meetings, including the main session of the 76th UNGA and eight bilateral talks. I also took part on the inaugural day in the general debate."
The foreign minister, state minister for foreign affairs, lawmakers, and high-level government officials accompanied her, she added.
The prime minister said that she later went to Washington DC from New York.
She also inaugurated “Bangladesh House” in Maryland, USA, to carry forward the memory of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina said the focus of this UNGA session was a sustainable transition from the pandemic, pin-pointing expectations in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Besides, issues like climate change, women's empowerment, equality and inclusion, racism, sustainable development goals, nuclear disarmament, etc, also came up in the discussions, the premier added.
She said on the very first day of her visit on September 20, she was conferred with “SDG Progress Award” by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) for Bangladesh's highest success in attaining SDG during 2015-2020. SDSN President and renowned economist Professor Jeffery Sachs handed over the award to her.
“This award is a global recognition of Bangladesh's steadfast development even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that's why I dedicated this award to the people of the country in my thanksgiving speech,” she added.
The premier said the special attraction of this visit was setting up a “Permanent Bench” and planting a centenary sapling at the UN Headquarters on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She said: “It is notable that this is the first such initiative to pay homage to any political leader at the premises of the UN headquarters, which is undoubtedly a rare honor for Bangladesh.”
The prime minister said on September 24 she addressed the general debate of the UNGA where she spoke in Bengali this time too like every time.
"In my speech, I emphasized ensuring universal and affordable availability of Covid-19 vaccines in order to build a coronavirus free world, and simultaneously urged world leaders to consider Covid-19 vaccine as a 'global asset' in eliminating vaccine inequality,” she added.
Highlighting Bangladesh's success in coming out of the list of least developed countries (LDCs), Sheikh Hasina said she proposed formulating an "incentive-based transit framework" to the development partners.
"We urge the countries that receive migrants to ensure justified rights of migrants, their employment, health and welfare,” she said.