REF: Khaleda Zia has called for ‘national unity’ to topple the Awami League government, claiming Sheikh Hasina has established ‘monarchy’ in Bangladesh.
The BNP chairperson, with son Tarique Rahman at her side, launched a scathing attack on the governing Awami League at a meeting organised by her party’s UK chapter at Park Plaza Riverbank London hotel on Sunday evening (local time).
Tarique’s wife Zubaida Rahman was in the audience of the meeting, which is the first during Khaleda’s visit to the UK now running one and a half months.
The BNP chief told the expatriate leaders and activists that she would return home soon to revamp the party for anti-government movement.
The former prime minister attacked the government for the law and order situation, which she said was “worst in the country’s history”.
“The people of Bangladesh are not well today. They are not in peace. Harassments are crossing the limit everyday,” Khaleda said.
Without naming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, she said, “Bangladesh is now a monarchy. There is Lady Hitler running this monarchy.”
Activists of BNP’s UK chapter at Sunday’s meeting.
Demonstration by Awami League’s UK chapter outside the venue.
“Because all her soldiers, I mean the administration, are only carrying out her orders. Everything is done on her order,” she added.
Citing an interview that Hasina gave to the BBC after the assassination of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the BNP chief said, “She (Hasina) said: ‘I’ll go to Bangladesh to take revenge, not to do politics’.”
“She has not come to build the country. She has come to destroy it,” Khaleda said.
She blamed the Awami League government for ‘the rise of militancy’.
“It is Hasina who is shouting militants, militants, but why? … It is to frighten the foreigners.
“She wants to make them understand that militancy will rear its head if the BNP comes to power,” Khaleda, her arch political rival, said.
“But you see that militancy rose during the Awami League regime. They did not arrest any militant. We arrested all of them,” she claimed.
The chairperson, however, admitted that her party failed to mount a strong anti-government movement in capital Dhaka.
“We could not organise the protests strongly in Dhaka . They open fire every time you hit the street.”
But, she claimed, the protests in the other parts of the country were “more intense than they were the Liberation War.”
She alleged the government torched vehicles during the protests but blamed it on the BNP leaders and activists.
She also alleged the government killed 3,000 BNP leaders and activists, abducted 1,200, and shot dead 1,012 in so-called ‘crossfire’.
Khaleda slated RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed for the deaths in ‘crossfire’. “There is no account of how many people he (Benazir) has killed.”
She emphasised bringing people from all parties and views to bring down the Awami League.
“We’ll have to build national unity,” she said.
BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman’s wife Zubaida Rahman arrives at the meeting.
Khaleda Zia arrives at the BNP meeting in London on Sunday.
Her son and Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique and her Advisor Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, among others, spoke at the meeting.
UK Awami League leaders and activists demonstrated against the BNP chief outside the hotel.
She exchanged greetings with the supporters on Eid on Sep 24 in a programme that descended into utter chaos.
The former prime minister thinks many of the ministers “do not even deserve to be MP”.
She alleged many skilled officials have been kept out of work by way of ‘nepotism in the civil administration’.
Tarique and Amir Khosru sat beside her on stage. BNP leader Abdul Awal Mintoo’s son Tabith Awal, who lost the Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral polls, was also in the audience.
Khaleda was the chief guest at the ‘Civic Meeting’ while Tarique was the special guest.
In the beginning of her speech, she praised the UK for its law and order.
“I have seen many things in the past one and a half months. I am delighted. I think there are many good things to learn from their law and order… the good laws,” she said.
She also said Bangladesh could implement these laws by learning from the UK.
The BNP chief is staying with Tarique and his family in London.
“I have come here to spend some time with my family,” she said.
But she said she wanted to return home now.
“I’ve met them after a long time and they are not willing to let me go,” she said.
“But you know the condition of the country. Now I need to return home,” she added.
She said she showed the Standing Committee members many things.
“But I need to return because they cannot take any decision if something happens,” she added.