Vol. 5 Num 1104 Mon. July 09, 2007  
Front Page

Hasina raps intelligence
It is not their duty to make or break political parties, she says

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday categorically blasted an intelligence agency saying that a civilized and democratic society cannot let an intelligence agency control everything while it is 'arresting and torturing politicians and forcing them to say what the members of the agency like to hear'.

Asking the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) to stop operating beyond its mandated boundary of ensuring national security, the former prime minister also called for allowing politicians to carry out political activities.

"I will ask the caretaker government to stop the agency from carrying out the atrocities and to make it carry out its real responsibilities. It is not their duty to get involved in politics or to break up and build political parties. The people did not give them that right," said the AL chief.

Hasina made the remarks while talking to journalists at a hospital in the capital where she went to see noted singer Sabina Yasmin, who is undergoing treatment there for cancer.

"If an undemocratic and unconstitutional government stays in power for long, then the problems of the people are not going to be solved, rather those will be intensified," Hasina said.

She observed that democracy will not be established if the military backed caretaker government works with a plan to bring someone specific or some specific forces to power. "If the government goes around doing its things with preconceived ideas, the people will not get their rights and there will be no accountability," she said.

She also said currently the public attention is being diverted from real issues in the name of reforms.

Brushing aside AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil's recent statement, Hasina questioned if there is any importance of any statement made under detention. "People might say anything under torture, but those statements carry no value at all," she added.

"What kind of intelligence activities are those when the intelligence forces torture people, administer electric shocks on detained persons, and threaten them with arrests of their wives and children?" Hasina asked.

If anyone commits a crime, that person should be punished after being proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, she said adding, but scaring the accused with prospects of arrests of their family members including their wives and children, is no civilisation. "This is a blatant violation of human rights," she said.

The AL president wanted to know the budget of DGFI and the purposes for which that is being spent. She also questioned whether that budget is for breaking up existing political parties and for launching new ones. "Give the answer," Hasina said adding that playing with the fate of the people 'will not be tolerated'.

"I have asked my party leaders and activists to say whatever the intelligence agency forces them to say, say things even against me if necessary to avoid torture," Hasina said.

The former prime minister said the country has a constitution. "So everyone must abide by the constitution. Defiance of the constitution did not bring good in the past, and it will not bring good in the future either," she said.

The AL chief claimed the January 11 caretaker government is the outcome of the movement carried out by AL-led grand alliance. And the people now want to see the progress made by the Election Commission in the last six months, she added.

"Who will be in power will be decided by the people," she went on adding that if the people's rights are not ensured then accountability will not be established making way for corruption and criminal activities.

Hasina said her party and the grand alliance led by it forged a movement to give the people back their rights to universal franchise, but it seems that another conspiracy for vote rigging is currently afoot. If that is not true, then why the voter list has not been prepared even after six months have gone, she asked.

Production of transparent ballot boxes have not progressed in the last six months even after the army produced a prototype of that, said the AL chief adding that she wants to see progress in the electoral process including implementation of the electoral reform proposal provided by AL-led 14-party coalition.

About the political reform proposals including party reforms placed by senior leaders of her party, Hasina said party reform have been a continuous process in her party since its inception. According to the rules of AL every leader of the party must place his or her reform proposal in the party's central working committee (ALCWC) meeting, she said adding, if the ALCWC accept any proposal, then that will go to the national council for approval.

Party leaders, activists, and members of the central working committee and the national council will take decisions about the party and the people of the country will decide who will come to power and run the country, Hasina said.

The people want to know what the caretaker government is doing to that end, she said.

She said she never wanted to become the party president. "It was the party leaders who made me the party chief while I was in exile."

Hasina also demanded that the government immediately withdraws the cases filed against 5,000 farmers of Nachole. She also urged the interim government to ensure supply of fertilisers to the farmers. "I want to see that fertilisers are available in all districts for fare prices within seven days."

If the government cannot do that and the farmers embark on a movement, then the government will not be able to control the situation, said the AL chief. Referring to the price spiral of essentials, Hasina also demanded immediate measures for curbing the continuing price hike. She also demanded employment for the unemployed.

She said when she wanted to go to the US to see her daughter, she was not allowed to go and when she wanted to come back from the US, her return was obstructed by the current government.

Saying categorically that she has never been involved in any corruption or extortion in her entire life so far, the AL chief said a number of false cases have been prepared against her for filing. Now the government is persecuting Bangabandhu Memorial Trust too, which donates Tk 4 lakh among 1200 economically disadvantaged students for their education every month, she said.

Moreover the trust is reregistered with the government and gets fund from it too, the accounts of which is audited regularly, Hasina added.

A woman tries to talk with Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina in front of LabAid hospital in the capital yesterday. Hasina went there to visit ailing singer Sabina Yasmin. PHOTO: STAR