Profile of a Dictator: The one and only Hasina

Bangladesh has witnessed many changes in the past months. The cabinet of Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina has approped the National Broadcasting policy under which government wil appoint an independent body who will watch over what contents the media will be allowed to broadcast.  Under the policy, broadcast outlets are prohibited from disseminating any news, photos, or videos that could tarnish the image of law enforcement agencies and armed forces, according to news reports. The policy also requires broadcast outlets to telecast programs of national importance, including speeches made by the heads of state and government.

The journalist community was dividied on the issue. The pro Awamileager newsperson hailed the policy as timely whereas, Prothom Alo, an widely circulated Bangladeshi newspaper expressed concern over the policy in the pretext that it will give indemnity to certain institutions. The newspaper furher added that,  the provision to form a broadcast commission is aim[ed] at tying up the hands and feet of the media. Such a restrictive policy is totally unacceptable. Bangladesh Nationlist Party, main opposition of the country led by former prime minster Begum Khaleda Zia in a fromal reaction said that, the government’s move to formulate the National Broadcast Policy is nothing but to gag media and people’s freedom of speech. “The National Broadcasting Policy is a genius black law. The present illegal government wants to control media formulating the polic.

It is worthwhile to mention here that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bamgladesh and father of current prime minster of the country Sheikh Hasina had also banned all the newspaper excpet 4 in 1974.

Similarly on 17 september 2014, the National Parliament has passed a new ammendement giving it power to impeach a judge of the Supreme Court. This has raised widespread concern among the judges, lawyers and civil society that governmnet will use this power to keep judges under pressaure. Critics of the amendment, including senior jurists, said it was a thinly veiled way for the ruling party to keep the judiciary under control. But Law Minister Anisul Hoque, who proposed the change, said the amendment allows parliament to impeach judges on grounds of “misbehavior or incapacity.” Major opposition parties opposed the government’s move to amend the constitution, saying authorities will systematically influence the judiciary, especially when it comes to politically sensitive cases.

The concern is legitimate. Especially the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has just rejected appeals by a former prime minister, Khaleda Zia, over the appointment of a judge in a corruption case against her. The ruling clears the way for Mrs Zia to stand trial. Prosecutors accuse her of having siphoned off cash from charitable trusts set up in memory of her late husband, Ziaur Rahman, who was an army leader at independence and was later assassinated as president. If found guilty, the country’s second-most-powerful woman could face time in jail.

The court ruling reinforces the dominance enjoyed by the country’s most powerful woman, Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister (pictured above). It comes eight months after she won an unprecedented second term in an election boycotted by Mrs Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Sheikh Hasina had put Mrs Zia under house arrest and barred the BNP’s electoral ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, from running. With no opposition, it was a shoo-in for Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League.

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