Yes, the Bangladesh prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has questions to answer

Netra News
Netra News
Published in
3 min readFeb 14, 2021
Screenshot from Al Jazeera film, “All the Prime Minister’s Men”. This is an image taken at the time General Aziz Ahmed became Chief of Army Staff in 2018 with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina giving him flowers

The Al Jazeera investigative film which many millions have viewed in Bangladesh is called “All the Prime Minister’s Men”. The title alludes to the famous book, “All the President’s Men” written by two Washington Post reporters who investigated the Watergate break-in that ultimately brought down US President Richard Nixon. The Al Jazeera film will not result in the fall of Sheikh Hasina, the Bangladesh prime minister of the film’s title, but nonetheless it does raise serious questions for her to answer — to which at the moment she has not responded.

Hasina is not a major protagonist in the film, but it was she who decided to give the post of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to General Aziz Ahmed, a man with three brothers as murder convicts, two of whom were fugitives (and indeed another brother who was murdered apparently in criminal gang warfare). Why, one must wonder, would the prime minister decide to appoint someone to be head of the army who has two fugitive brothers convicted of murder, and for whom — in order to make Aziz’s appointment — she has to organise a presidential pardon for his third brother who had been imprisoned following conviction for the same murder. This seems rather unedifying, to say the least — can one imagine any other country doing the same? — and does raise serious questions of judgement.

There are further questions to be asked of the prime minister about Aziz and his two fugitive brothers.

One question is at what point did the prime minister know that General Aziz — whom she appointed to the head of the BGB in 2012 and to be COAS in 2018 — was in direct contact with both his fugitive brothers? The second is, did she herself know the whereabouts of the fugitives and that one of them was travelling on a passport based on a fake identity, and if so, when?

It would seem likely that, at least in the process of vetting Aziz for the job of COAS (if not before) Hasina would have come to know about the situation of the brothers. There is some supporting evidence for this: when Haris was secretly filmed, he said that Hasina knew about his presence in Europe. Additionally, Haris used to talk to Hasina whilst he was in Hungary calling her “apa”, according to Sami, the whistle blower at the heart of the film, in an interview he subsequently gave to Netra News. Perhaps this is not the case, and Hasina was kept in the dark by Aziz and Haris — but whichever it is, Hasina has to clarify this situation. Without explanation, there is a strong imputation hanging over the prime minister that she turned a blind eye, and has possibly connived in allowing the murderers to evade the law.

And then there are other questions that Hasina should answer as a result of what Haris said when he was being secretly filmed.

  • Haris suggested that the prime minister knew about his about his role as a middleman procuring government contracts. Is this true?
  • Does she know that Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) is being used as a private security force for the likes of Haris?
  • Does she know that there is a bribery racket allegedly involving the head of the police and the Home Minister, in order to get new postings within the police?

She was of course asked to respond by Al Jazeera to the allegations in the film — but failed to do so.

One would assume that the prime minister would deny any knowledge of these things. But assuming (generously) that she did not know, the next question is: what is she going to do to stop them happening in the future? And of course, what is she going to do about Aziz? Is it possible that he can continue as the army chief when he has apparently been complicit in serious illegality?

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Netra News
Netra News

Netra News - a new independent and impartial online media platform publishing investigations, analysis, and opinion on Bangladesh politics and society