Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 6 Issue 24 | June 22, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   Photo Feature
   In Retrospect
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review

   SWM Home

News Notes

The Final Verdict?

After over a decade of being on the run, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, condemned convict in the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman murder case, was brought back to Bangladesh and sent to Dhaka Central Jail on Monday. Mohiuddin has been in the United States since 1996, when Sheikh Hasina came into power. The retired army major was at the time serving as a diplomat in the Middle East was asked to report to the foreign ministry. Instead of doing so, he went to the United States on a visitor's visa. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to death in 1998 along with 14 other former army officials who played a part in the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family on August 15, 1975. Mohiuddin has been appealing the U.S. government's decision to deport him for several years. In mid-March the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeals for asylum and beginning the process to send Mohiuddin back to Bangladesh. His final appeal in the US District Courts for a stay of deportation was rejected on June 14th. He arrived in Dhaka on the Thai Airlines flight via Bangkok at around 12:15 on Monday afternoon, accompanied by two U.S. Homeland Security officials and was handed over to the Bangladesh immigration police. He was handcuffed and taken to the Officer in Charge of Immigration at Zia International Airport, where he was given a bullet-proof vest and a helmet. He was finally escorted in a police van amid tight security including six RAB and police vans and taken to the CMM court where he was produced in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Shafique Anwar. In the forwarding report the OC of Airport Police Station, Ruhul Amin told the court that not only was Mohiuddin a fugitive convict the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman murder case filed with Dhanmondi Police Station on October 2, 1996, but he was also an absconding accused in the Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni murder case filed with Mohammadpur Police Station in November 1996 and the Abdur Rob Serniabat murder case with Ramna Police Station in October 1996. He was then sent to Dhaka Central Jail, where he is currently in solitary confinement. Although there is no legal bar for the execution of Mohiuddin, sources say that he may still yet be able to file a petition to the Supreme Court in order to appeal against his conviction. Because his death sentence was confirmed on April 30, 2001, he will have to explain the reason for the six year delay in his filing a petition before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

Rotting away from Home
One assumes his home to be the safest place in the world. That's when the question of survival comes in and gets one thinking. For decades, the people of Bangladesh, especially from the rural areas have been migrating to foreign countries, dreaming of a better life. They sell of their ancestral homes, property and other valuables that they might have been saving up for, just to escape the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty lingering about at home. Despite all the hopes that they are given by agents, not to mention the innumerable contracts and paperwork that they have work on, millions of Bangladeshis are treated inhumanely in the host countries. The paperwork and the contracts that they sign, which guarantee various facilities in return of their labour turn out to be false or ignored.
In Malaysia for instance, thousands of Bangladeshi workers are living a miserable life. In spite of being promised work and a new life, they are going through similar problems of unemployment and underpayment just like in Bangladesh. What makes it worse is the fact that the recruiting agencies strewn all over Bangladesh cheat these young workers and also the outsourcing companies in Malaysia. In fact, salaries of the workers are often deducted on various grounds, which are never mentioned in the job contracts. Furthermore, these workers are forced to work long hours, are not provided proper food, accommodation and other facilities and are often made to work under extremely poor conditions.
One such company, the Malaysian outsourcing company, Outline Square (M) SDN BHD, which hired 100 Bangladeshi workers through a Bangladeshi recruiting agency Link Up International (Ltd), is paying a worker only 50 to 150 Malaysian Ringgit a month whereas the salary written in the job contract is over 900 Ringgit. The exploited and the harassed workers recently made an appeal to the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur with no effect til now.
In their complaints, the workers alleged that according to the job contract forms signed in Bangladesh, their daily basic salary was 18.50 Ringgit but on arrival in Malaysia, they had to sign a new job contract form, which fixed the daily basic salary at 15 Ringgit.
They said the outsourcing company subtracts 222 Ringgit in the name of permit deduction, 160 Ringgit for meal purposes and 7 Ringgit in the name of water, electricity and medical costs from each worker a month.
The company neither provides any food nor accommodation though it deducts money from their salaries for meal purposes, even though it is supposed to provide accommodation as per the job contract. They are also forced to work 10 hours a day instead of eight hours, stated the letter signed by about one hundred workers urging "Please save us. Otherwise, we shall starve to death in Malaysia. Please come to our aid."

The Battered Begums
Now that a crackdown on misrule and corruption is going on, top leaders of both the major parties are talking about reforming themselves. Extraordinarily enough, both the leading ladies of Bangladeshi politics are claiming that each has actually been the first to propose reform. This is funny, for both Khaleda and Hasina since their entrance into politics as the supreme leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League have created a tyrannical, authoritarian rule where any threat to their say-so has been single-handedly destroyed. It is quite clear now that for the last 16 years Khaleda and Hasina have mauled the trust and confidence we have bequeathed to them. Criminalisation of politics and the society in general of a huge proportion has taken place over the decade with the tacit backing (not to mention the indifference) of the Begums.
Last week fingers have been pointed at Khaleda and Hasina too for their involvement in helping Islamic extremists (Khaleda), extortion and robbery. The leaders' roles in certain past events (the rise of Islamic extremism and government purchases) have come under increasing public scrutiny. One thing must be made clear here: if Khaleda and Hasina are found guilty of corruption and misrule, then they should be tried, and if found guilty should be treated the way the state treats other ordinary criminals. No special treatment should be given to them because of their filial and marital relationships with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman.
Issues such as corruption and abuse (and misuse) of power should be dealt with a strong hand. Whomsoever is found guilty in the court of law should not be spared. The Bangladesh that we such as have been trying to build with our blood and sweat cannot become a playground of a group of people who have been eating away all our achievements as a nation.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007