Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

Bangladesh’s main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, looks on as she is escorted back to prison from a hospital visit on Thursday, November 8. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
0

Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

  • Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al-Harun said Khaleda Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail
  • Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis
DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities on Thursday sent opposition leader Khaleda Zia back to jail after a month of treatment in hospital, an official said.
The move came just ahead of the official announcement of the date of a general election which the 73-year-old Zia will almost certainly be excluded from because of the prison terms she is serving.
Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah al Harun told reporters Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail. “Her health has been in adequately stable condition.”
One of her aides, Zahid Hossain, alleged however that Zia’s doctors had not approved her return to jail.
Zia’s lawyers have previously accused the government of putting the health of the two-time former prime minister at risk by refusing her specialized care in prison.
Zia was jailed for five years in February for corruption and has since been held at the British colonial-era prison which was abandoned in 2016 but brought back into service to keep her.
She was taken to hospital last month when her condition deteriorated.
Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis. She is diabetic and also has problems with her neck and shoulder.
During her time in hospital, Zia was sentenced to seven years in jail in a new graft case while an appeal court doubled the term from the original case to 10 years.
Zia is now running out of time to make an appeal that could clear her to run in the election expected at the end of December.
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party has condemned the cases as politically motivated to keep her out of an election showdown with current prime minister and arch-rival Sheikh Hasina.
BNP officials held talks with Hasina on their election demands which included releasing the party leader. Hasina rejected the demand.
The BNP boycotted the 2014 vote in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election this year.


More than 300 distressed Bangladeshis without salary in Qatar for 6 months

In this Nov. 7, 2014, file photo, men talk by the sea overlooking the Qatar skyline in Doha, Qatar. (AP)
Updated 16 min 10 sec ago
0

More than 300 distressed Bangladeshis without salary in Qatar for 6 months

  • Bangladesh mission officials said around 400,000 Bangladeshi migrants were working in Qatar
  • Around 100 Bangladeshi workers left the camp in the past few days and repatriated to Bangladesh

DHAKA: “We had to face starvation for three days on Sept 8, 9 and 10. Now, every day we are getting two meals from a Qatar charity,” said Kazi Lutfur Rahman, a Bangladeshi migrant who has worked with Doha-based estate agent Hamton International since 2012.
“Around 1,000 migrant workers from Asia and Africa are now living a very miserable life in a camp without electricity and water supply.”
Like Rahman, around 300 Bangladeshi migrants are now living in uncertainty in Qatar since the employer Hamton International has not paid their salary for about six months. The workers are now living in a camp at Al Shahaniya, about 20km from Doha.
“The Qatar charity provides us with diesel to produce electricity during the night only for two hours, and for a shower we rush to a nearby church,” Rahman, 44, told Arab News.
The crisis in Hamton started in April this year when the staff remained unpaid for two months. After the workers’ agitation in June the employer paid them two months’ salary in arrears and promised to pay the due amount on June 20.
But still the workers remained unpaid. Later on Hamton management increased the time to July and promised to pay the due salary on Sept.10.
“Just two days before the payment date the authority closed the operations of the company and we fell into uncertainty about our due payments,” added Rahman, who has worked for Hamton since July 2012 and used to receive around $550 salary per month.
Apart from Bangladeshis, there are 1,000 other migrants from India, Nepal, Ghana and Sri Lanka, Rahman said.
Sirajul Islam, labor secretary of the Bangladesh mission in Qatar, told Arab News: “We are very concerned about the sufferings of our migrants and already we have contacted the Qatar Labor Ministry to resolve the crisis.”
He said that among the 333 Bangladeshis, around 150 workers joined last June/July and all of them spent around $4,300 to get the job.
“We are trying to replace the Bangladeshi workers in some other local companies. Already the Qatar Labor Ministry has initiated the issue and it may take another one or two weeks to place many of them in the new job.”
However, around 100 Bangladeshi workers left the camp in the past few days and repatriated to Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh mission authority, they were compensated by the concerned recruiting agencies in Bangladesh which sent the workers to Qatar and the repatriated migrants have authorized the Bangladesh mission in Doha to receive the money from their company in their absence.
Family members of the distressed Bangladeshi migrants are living in anxiety and have had sleepless nights for the past two months.
Morium Begum, 35, Rahman’s wife, told Arab News: “I want the safe return of my husband and the employer should pay the due amount.”
She added: “We have one son and two daughters. All of them are studying in school and college. Last night I noticed my elder daughter was weeping alone about her father, which was unbearable for me as a mother.”
Repeated attempts were made to reach Hamton International’s top management, but none of the telephone numbers on its official letterhead was in service.
Bangladesh mission officials said around 400,000 Bangladeshi migrants were working in Qatar. Of them, 75 percent are engaged in construction work and around 100,000 are employed as drivers, housemaids and cleaning staff.