Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BNP, Jammat should be banned: Sajeeb Wazed

Here is a news report I wrote following an interview given by the prime minster's son to a number of foreign journalists on 6 January. An audio recording of the whole interview along with the transcript can be found here, along with a detailed fact-check/commentary on what Sajeeb Wazed said.
BNP should be made ‘illegal’, the prime minister’s son, Sajeeb Wazed told a small group of foreign reporters in an impromptu wide ranging interview at Gono Bhavan that took place one day after the election. 
Speaking about BNP’s violence he said, ‘Several of their leaders including Khaleda Zia’s advisers have gone on BBC saying, declaring war in Bangladesh, and that is exactly  what they have done. We are talking Molotov cocktails, civilian buses on fire with people in them.’  
When asked whether he therefore thought BNP should ‘continue to exist as a party, as from what you are saying it should be illegal’, he said, ‘I agree with you.’ 
When it was pointed out to him that BNP has a large number of loyal voters, he said, ‘I think there are plenty of good people in the BNP. I don’t think the problem is with the BNP itself. I think the problem is the leadership.’ 
Sajeeb, who has been heavily involved in the election preparations for the Awami League, then went onto point out that when the BNP was in power, ‘It was called a failing state.’  
Speaking inside Gono Bhavan to the small group of journalists immediately after the prime minister - Sajeeb's mother - gave her press conference, he also blamed all the disappearances that have taken place during the AL's five years in power on BNP and opposition. 
‘They have criminal elements amongst their own group, they have associated with terrorists. Yes, who killed them. We don’t know. We would love to find out. Perhaps their own terrorists blew them up. I don’t know. We don’t know. When you partner with terrorists, I mean it could go both ways,’ he said.  
Sajeeb also told reporters, including those from the BBC, New York Times and the UK’s Financial Times that he was in favour of banning the Jamaat. ‘I don’t think anyone in Bangladesh wants Jamaat around,’ he said. 
‘Furthermore, the courts have found Jamaat was party to war crimes, so essentially they have the status of the Nazi party in Germany. Are you suggesting that the Nazi party should not be banned?’ he added. 
When asked how long the new government could continue if the people in the country ‘don’t regard this elections as credible’, the prime minister's son who was heavily involved in election preparations said that, ‘I don’t get the sense that people don’t regard it [as credible], you are obviously not going to please everybody, there are BNP supporters out there. I believe that a majority of the people just want the violence to stop.  
He argued that the Awami League had sought a solution, but the BNP had not. ‘We have made multiple concessions, repeated concessions, we made as many concessions as possible within the constitution.’  
On it being pointed out that ‘Mainstream, very popular newspapers were extremely negative about the elections,’ he said ‘Right … those very same papers, those very same editors were openly supporting  a military regime [in 2007].'  
When it was mentioned that the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, had also supported the army’s intervention at that time, Sajeeb said, ‘In terms of holding a constitutional election within 90 days as specified by the constitution. No one expected them to stay two years. That was unconstitutional.’  
Sajeeb also told reporters that his mother wanted to retire. ‘She talks about it all the time’ and said that the only thing that was keeping her from doing so, was ‘the violence, we don’t want our Bangladesh to become a failed state as it was about to under the BNP’s term.’  
Near the end of the interview he suggested that he was one of the principle advisers to the prime minister ‘I will have two advisers going back and forth with me with opposing views and I have to present [to the prime mininster]. However he then subsequently said that there was no one person who was ‘more important. We all have our distinct area of responsibility. I am not officially an adviser .’

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