Vol. 5 Num 1112 Tue. July 17, 2007  
Front Page

She accuses govt of conspiring to disqualify her from election

Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the military-backed caretaker government is conspiring to disqualify her from running in the next parliamentary elections by implicating her in false cases because she stands up for people's rights.

During the forty-minute submission in her defence to the court, the former prime minister said her arrest is intended to 'destroy' politics and democracy in the country.

She also said the Election Commission roadmap released on Sunday predetermines who will come to power after the next elections and thereby the government is trying to turn Bangladesh into a 'failed state', 36 years after the Liberation War.

"The extortion case has been filed to politically harass me. I might be given punishment in this case so that I cannot run for elections. But no one in the country will believe that I committed extortion," a confident Hasina stated in her submissions to the court, which rejected her bail petition in the extortion case and ordered sending her into jail custody.

"Neither myself, nor my family were ever involved in any sort of corruption or extortion. I have not done anything wrong, let alone commit extortion. I am completely innocent, and I want justice from the court," Hasina pleaded before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Kamrunnahar.

"I don't know what verdict you will give. Maybe the verdict has been fixed beforehand. If there is no democracy, there cannot be the rule of law," she told the court, adding, "I know you [magistrate] will not be able to give any orders beyond those from the higher authorities."

Referring to the military takeover in 1975 and the High Court judgment that declared the takeover as illegal, Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said, "To satisfy political ambition of individuals, similar tactics are being adopted now."

"I think attempts are now being made to destroy political forces one after another and bring some other forces to power. The people's fate is being played with, but the people always take the right decision."

"Some people have been coaxed into splitting political parties. The greed and ambition to go to power or to become president by certain quarters is pushing the country towards ruination and destroying democracy," she said.

"Have they not committed corruption?" the AL chief posed a question.

Urging the people to be 'patient', she said, "If I survive and when the time comes, I will stand by you again." People's fate will not change without free and fair elections, and if it is held right now, the AL would get 80 per cent of the vote, she said.

"My fault is that I speak for the people, their plights due to price rise of essentials and their voting rights," Hasina said.

The present caretaker government is an outcome of the movement of the AL-led grand alliance, who were expecting this government to hold 'free, fair and credible elections', but even after six months in power they have not done anything in this regard, not even the voter list.

"I am not an offender, I am not an extortionist. My family and political ideology did not teach me to commit extortion but to serve people's cause," Hasina said, adding, "My father devoted his life for the welfare of people, and me also."

"I have lived all my life with honesty. My daughter-in-law was sick, my daughter gave birth to a baby, but I was not allowed to go to the US to see them."

Terming the cases of extortion and murder 'false' and 'fabricated', Hasina claimed that she was arrested although there was no charge sheet and warrant of arrest.

"If I were a thief, corrupt and murderer, I would not have returned home from abroad."

"There is difference between subscription for party and extortion. A political party is run with donations from its well-wishers."

She also raised questions about motives behind the extortion case against her after 7-8 years of the claimed corruption.

The AL chief told the court that the previous BNP-Jamaat-led coalition government had also tried to implicate her in corruption cases by filing cases concerning purchase of Mig-29 and a frigate, but failed.

Referring to the AL's two times rule since the independence of Bangladesh, she said whenever the AL came to power, it devoted all its efforts to the welfare of the people and the nation.

About her five-year rule from 1996, the former prime minister said the country saw remarkable achievements in terms of economic growth, food surplus, stable prices of essentials, and electricity production.

She also mentioned the signing of the CHT peace treaty, the Ganges water-sharing accord and recognition of 21st February as International Mother Language Day.

"I have been involved in politics since my student days. I was a VP [vice-president] of Badrunnessa College Students Union. I have always spoken for the people."

"Ten universities from around the world have conferred on me doctorate degrees and other awards. Those are not mine, rather those are the prestige of the country. Had I committed corruption they would not have given me awards and doctorate degrees."

"When the Awami League was in power we modernised the army, BDR, police and worked for independence of the judiciary. We gave the High Court financial independence," she said.