Sheikh Hasina’s husband dies after long fight against illness

Oliver Scanlan
15 May 2009

At 4:25pm on Saturday Dr MA Wazed Miah, husband of Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, died after a long battle against illness. He was 66 years old and had been suffering from problems with his heart, as well as renal failure, diabetes and high blood pressure. He had recently had an angioplasty operation at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Angioplasty is where narrowed or obstructed blood vessels are widened mechanically.

The Prime Minister is reported to be grief stricken. The two had been together for over forty years, having married in 1968. As well as Hasina, Miah is survived by his son Sajeeb Wazed Joy and his daughter Saima Wazed Hossain Putul. In addition, to those of many family members and government officials, Sheikh Hasina also received condolences from the head of the opposition BNP party Khaleda Zia, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

By profession Dr Miah was a nuclear physicist, and received his PhD from Imperial College, London. Before retirement, he had been head of Bangladesh's Atomic Energy Commission.

Vacillation as Jamaat-i-Islami leadership accused of war crimes

On Monday, summonses were served against nearly 40 high-ranking members of the Islamist Jammat-i-Islami political party. These summonses were issued by a Dhaka court in response to a civil suit, filed in November 2008, seeking court orders to brand them "war criminals" and to ban them from standing in elections. Those implicated include current party Chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, former chief Golam Azam and secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mojaheed. Opposition party BNP leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury was also accused.

On Wednesday, however, the prosecution withdrew the cases filed against the 36 alleged war criminals. Responding to State Minister for Law Advocate Qamrul Islam's recent statement that the case might hamper the forthcoming government trial process for the war criminals, the plaintiffs said that they were dropping the suit "for the good of the country".

The Awami League government has pledged to bring to trial those Bangladeshis that sided with Pakistan in the 1971 Liberation War. The conduct of Pakistan's armed forces against the civilian population of what was then East Pakistan was extremely brutal, and led to the deaths of up to three million people. The Awami League is opposed in this by both the opposition BNP as well as Jamaat-i-Islami, whose stance during the '71 War was avowedly pro-Pakistan. The religious party was banned following the realisation of Bengali independence but was allowed to resume its activities in 1975 after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of independent Bangladesh.


Violence strikes capital as Rapid Action Battalion raids militant hideouts

Jahidur Rahman, alias "Boma Mizan", was arrested, together with his wife, Shamin Haque Lata, this Thursday when the elite counter terrorist unit RAB raided his home in Mirpur. When he realised what was happening, Mizan was able to tell his wife that they were being raided by use of the code phrase, "I am sick". Lata then detonated a hidden bomb in an attempt to avoid capture. Luckily no-one was killed as a result, but the blast did injure her and also one of her children.

Mizan is one of the most senior surviving members of Jam'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), and is considered a key explosives expert and lieutenant to JMB leaders Shaekh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam, both of whom were hanged in 2006. A warrant has been outstanding for his arrest since his conviction in absentia by a Chittagong court last year for a bomb attack on a judge carried out in 2005.

Hours after the arrest and bomb blast, another RAB team discovered a JMB facility for training militants in making explosives in east Manipur, another district in Dhaka. At the time of writing, the operation is still continuing.

The JMB is thought to have been founded in 1998. Its ideology calls for the rejection of democracy and the establishment of an Islamic state in Bangladesh. The group has been linked to several attacks, including the detonation of seven bombs in Dinajpur in the country's northwest in 2003, which wounded three people. The Bangladeshi government proscribed the organisation in 2005.

Two die as "crossfire killings" continue

The RAB was also in action against alleged gangsters in the early hours of Friday morning. Two men were killed when their microbus attempted to flee an RAB roadblock. The men, whose names were given by police sources as "Sohel" and "Babu" were allegedly members of the "terror Shahadat legion", and were wanted in connection with extortion activities relating to the garment industry. According to police sources, they fired first when fleeing an RAB roadblock and both men were killed by RAB retaliatory fire. This latest incident comes ten days after Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said that there would be an immediate end to extra judicial "cross fire" killings, and nine days after the last such death when Delwar Hossian Dilu was killed in a gunfight with members of the elite unit. Since the RAB began operations on 14 April 2004, over 550 people have been killed in such incidents.

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