Voice of America (VoA)
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Election Commission is completely “independent” and a system has been established through independent EC to hold “free and fair” elections in Bangladesh. “Now the Election Commission is completely independent,” she told the Bangla service of Voice of America (VOA) in an interview aired on Tuesday. The prime minister, now on a visit to the US, responded to a number of questions on democracy, human rights, Rohingya crisis, Digital Security Act and other issues. Read:PM in Washington: Media in Bangladesh free to criticize govt She said Bangladesh has progressed much during her three consecutive tenures. “The country didn’t see a downtrend, rather it witnessed advancement.” The premier said the rate of poverty has been decreased, people are getting food, education and healthcare. “We’re fulfilling all basic needs.” Responding to a question, PM Hasina described how political parties like BNP and Jatiya Party were born under military dictators and how the dictators seized power illegally. She said parties which are born under military dictators are not used to developing relationship with common people; rather they are used to rigging votes and take office by force. “They might not like the democratic trend.” Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, during her visit to Bangladesh, encouraged the government to create an “independent, specialised mechanism” that works closely with victims, families and civil society to investigate allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. When asked about it, the PM said there is National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh. “They look into these allegations.” Hasina said wherever any injustice occurs, steps are taken immediately as per the law. Read:“Not possible for us to take any more people, Rohingyas must go back” “We’re not abusing human rights, we are protecting human rights,” she said, adding that her government has made people aware of their rights and made sure that people can enjoy those rights. The Prime Minister referred to killings and disappearances of hundreds of armed forces personnel, Awami League leaders and activists during military dictator Ziaur Rahman. Their families did not even get the bodies and had not been able to know their faults, she remarked.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Bangladesh’s growing media during her tenures has the freedom to say whatever they wish to say. “After saying everything, if someone says that he/she is not allowed to speak, what would be the answer? That’s what I’d like to know,” she said in an interview with the Bangla service of Voice of America (VoA), aired on Tuesday. Read:“Not possible for us to take any more people, Rohingyas must go back” The prime minister was responding to a question on Digital Security Act (DSA) enacted by her government and its impact on freedom of media. She is now in Washington, on a visit to the United States. She said that Bangladesh had only a few TV and radio stations before she came to power in 1996 and those were controlled by the government. PM Hasina said once she came to power, she made an opening for the private sector to run media houses freely. Read: Hasina and Friends: Interactive gaming platform to educate children She said 32 private television channels are now operational among the approved 44 TV channels. The prime minister said people are taking part in television talk shows and they speak freely – true or false – and they criticize the government. She said there was no freedom of speech or movement during the military dictatorship.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Bangladesh is not in a position to take any more people from Myanmar, emphasizing the repatriation of Rohingyas who took temporary shelter in Bangladesh. In an interview with the Bangla service of Voice of America (VoA) aired on Tuesday, she said Rohingyas should go back to their own country. “It is not possible for us to take any more people,” said PM Hasina describing the burden amid Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war and subsequent sanctions due to which the whole world is suffering. Read: Hasina breaks down in tears while talking about everyday ordeals of Rohingyas Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and not a single person was repatriated to Myanmar over the last five years. The prime minister described how the prolonged stay of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh destroyed forests in Cox’s Bazar area, caused sufferings of the locals and how many Rohingyas got involved in drug trafficking, arms smuggling, human trafficking apart from getting involved in conflicts inside the camps. “They (Rohingyas) need to go back to their own country,” she said referring to Bangladesh’s repeated calls to the international community for their safe return. “Everyone needs to understand (the situation).” She described how in 1971, during the Liberation War, people from Bangladesh took shelter in India amid Pakistani military’s brutal crackdown. “We saw sufferings (in 1971) with our own eyes,” PM Hasina said, sharing her conversation with her sister Sheikh Rehana before allowing the Rohingyas temporary shelter in Bangladesh amid brutality against them in Myanmar. Read: Bring more women in decision-making leadership for a crisis-free world: PM Hasina Bangladesh has recently sought support and necessary steps from the international community to stop the violence in Myanmar so that it cannot create instability in the region and thus avoid the repatriation of Rohingyas. Bangladesh conveyed its deep concerns on the recent incidents of mortar shells from Myanmar falling and exploding inside Bangladesh territory, indiscriminate aerial firings, human fatalities and serious injuries, damages to the properties and livelihood of the people in the bordering areas to the ASEAN envoys.