Blockade designed to save war criminals: PM

Sheikh Hasina UNB, Dhaka

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday blasted the opposition for “enforcing countrywide road blockade to save the war criminals” at a time when the country is in a mood to celebrate the series victory against formidable West Indies in ODI cricket.

“We achieved another victory in the month of victory over the formidable West Indies. Today (Sunday), the opposition party engaged in setting fire to vehicles instead of celebrating the victory,” she said, speaking at a function marking the distribution of the Begum Rokeya Medal 2012 at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium.

Hasina mentioned that due to the blockade programme, enforced by the opposition to `shield the anti-liberation forces’, had restricted the people of the country from coming out with `jubilant processions’ to celebrate the Bengal Tigers’ win of the ODI series against the visiting West Indies.

“It is unfortunate for us all. One question stirs my mind: what is it the opposition wants?” she said.

The prime minister said that the road blockade was also enforced on a day when the whole nation is set to observe the ‘Begum Rokeya Day’, the most respected woman in the country.

“This showed (opposition’s) utter disrespect to her (Rokeya). I will request all to show their utmost hatred to the opposition and denounce the move.”

Reiterating her firm commitment to establish the genuine rights of the women and eliminate all injustices to them, Hasina said that her government is implementing various measures to ensure equal rights for women.

She called upon the private organizations and individuals to come forward to supplement government efforts for improving the lot of women as well as to to ensure their equal rights, opportunity and potentials.

The prime minister said that education up to Class XII has been made free for the spread of female education and massive enrolment of girls in primary education is a great achievement for the nation.

She recalled the highest sacrifices of two lakh women during the war of liberation and said that the women also directly fought against the Pakistani occupation force, supplied food to the freedom fighters and finally snatched the independence in exchange of their lives.

On the other hand, she said, the Rajakars and Al Badr bahini during the nine months of liberation war, committed crimes against humanity including torturing and abusing women. “So, the trial of the war criminals that started will certainly be held in the soil of the country.”

Hasina said that despite being born and brought up in a conservative society in the 19th century, Begum Rokeya was the pioneer of women education and their emancipation.

“Boldly facing all the obstacles of a conservative society, Begum Rokeya felt that only education could ensure their self-respect, their freedom and ultimately women empowerment.”

She said that the present government, following the path shown by Begum Rokeya, has been implementing various programmes for women development.

In this context, the Prime Minister mentioned the formulation of `Women Development Policy, 2011’ and the enactment of the `Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2010’.

Besides, she said, massive steps have been taken to increase efficiency of women, create employment opportunity for them, establish them as entrepreneurs through making them economically empowered and ensure their huge participation in the labor market.

The present government has also ensured strong representation of women in the Judiciary, Executive and Parliament as well as in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police force, she added.

About women empowerment, Hasina said that during its previous term, her government made arrangements of posting women as secretary, judge, police super and deputy commissioner, and in other higher posts.

Currently, she said, the prime minister, leader of the opposition, deputy leader of parliament, five cabinet ministers, a Whip, 19 directly elected MPs, 45 MPs against reserved seats, and 30 percent of elected members of all local government institutions are women.

“This is a bright example of women empowerment,” she said adding that in the future the women candidates might get higher number of nominations from Awami League in the next election.

Earlier, the Prime Minister distributed Begum Rokeya Medal 2012 to two erudite women for their contributions to establishing women rights and socioeconomic development. The medal recipients are Syeda Zebunnesa Haq and Professor Mahfuza Khanam.

Presided over by State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, the function was addressed, among others, by Secretary of the Ministry Tariqul Islam.

Later, the prime minister witnessed a colourful cultural function presented on the occasion.

Source: The Daily Star

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