On 15th September 2017, I went half way through the write up of Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury in Daily Janakantha and instantly my sixth sense dictated me that this time Sheikh Hasina has more than qualified for the Nobel Peace Prize. Almost at the end of his article, I came across a proposal of some celebrated academics of American & Australian universities to award the prize to Sheikh Hasina.
On the same day, I found another news item describing Hasina as the Mother of Humanity. Simultaneously the observations of the Chief of UNHCR and IOM are worth noting. Both of them expressed surprise at the way the government of Sheikh Hasina has managed to feed, provide shelter and basic medicare to almost one million Rohingyas who constitute 40 per cent of the population of the Rakhine state in Myanmar. She has been christened as the Mother of Humanity for her dedication to the displaced, persecuted and raped despite her lot of limitations at home front. She did all such things on a humanitarian ground because eight per cent of the uprooted Rohingyas have been found to be just women and children, innocent creatures of god irrespective of religious affiliation. This is not just the first time she stood for the humanity and this is not just the first appreciation she has received.
Sheikh Hasina over the last several years have received innumerable prestigious national and international awards, appreciation and prizes for her role to mitigate poverty, empower the down trodden and contain terrorism that poses a threat to peace. Her efforts to arrest the militants in her country have adequately contributed towards overriding terrorism and militants in other parts of the world. Her model of eliminating insurgency in hilly district of Bangladesh which was imitated elsewhere and which earned Nobel Prize for two Irishmen. She was expected to receive the same prize, but time was not perhaps on her side. She could have been awarded the Nobel prize, while in 1997, she brought the hill-track insurgents in Bangladesh to discussion table and resolved an apparently insurmountable hurdle after 26 years of bloodshed.
In other words, she took peace initiative right from the assumption of power after assassination of her father and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Many people suggested her to try the killers of Bangabandhu by special court but she defied their suggestions and tried the brutal killers of her father and almost of all members of the family in the normal civil court. This was unthinkable for a bereaved daughter of a family. Also, during her first tenure of office, she settled the Ganges water problems with India even without using a single harsh word. From that time onward, we have been counting the days to see her as a recipient of the Noble Prize. Of course, she did not hanker after it. She personally admitted that she did not work for the prizes but for the wellbeing of her people in particular and humanity in general. Thus, the idea of serving the humanity was always there at the backyard of her mind. Therefore, whenever she got the opportunity or the occasion permitted her, she directed efforts to mitigate the suffering of the downtrodden in order to ensure peace at home and abroad. One can even see that she went ahead of Indian and Pakistan leaders in bringing them to the discussion table while a war involving use of nuclear weapons was almost imminent. This was unthinkable because this Pakistan in 1971 created havoc for the freedom loving Bangalees and committed crime against humanity.
Apart from these, she steered her policy in such a manner that ensured sustainable economic development and especially two square meals for all in short span of time. She proved the Malthusian population and food theory untenable in her country by earning self-sufficiency in food production in the face of growing population. She earnestly believes that empty tummy causes unrest and throws a challenge to peace at regional and international arena. During her second and third tenures of office, she kept her efforts alive to ensure peace with the neighbours. Without any conflict with India and Myanmar over the possession of Bay of Bengal, she went to international court and solved the issue amicably. She also settled the age old land dispute problem with India only through discussion.
For the last many years, she has been pursuing a course of negotiation to resettle the Rohingyas in their motherland. She earlier provided food and shelter to more than half a million Rohingyas before the present exodus. The Myanmar government has not only pushed their citizens to Bangladesh but intermittently violating Bangladesh’s air space. This is just an instigation to involve Bangladesh in some kind of war or border clash. At this moment, there are also pressures from the opposition parties especially right-wing militants at home front to engage the country towards an armed conflict with Myanmar. Sheikh Hasina resisted all such instigations and has taken the path of consultation. On top of it, she has started providing food, shelter, medicare, water and sanitation to the newly displaced Rohingyas although she has lots of problems in her home front. Her recent speech concerning the temporary sheltering of displaced Rohingyas could be compared with the speech of Churchill during the World War II and Naser during the Suez crisis. She even went much ahead by telling that we shall share food and shelter with Rohingyas as our brethrens. She categorically stated that if we can feed 160 million people, we can also feed another million on humanitarian ground. Thus it is clear that while a Nobel laureate and daughter of the Father of Burma has been perpetuating a crime against humanity, another daughter of the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh has stood firmly for the humanity and against ethnic cleansing, massacre, genocide, loots and arson i.e. against staggering humanitarian disaster.
At present, the later has assumed the role of Indira Gandhi who came forward to help the fleeing Bengalees during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. It is absolutely clear that Sheikh Hasina has not extended any support to insurgents or any group creating a conflict in their motherland.
That means she is on the path of peace and also helping others to contain the terrorists or militants and the international troublemakers on behalf of others. That is probably why the world has shown sign of endorsement of her formula to resettle the Rohingyas in Myanmar. She needs moral boost up and therefore I request the world body and world leaders to support her model and demand for Nobel Peace Prize for her. This will enhance her enthusiasm and capability of promoting peace. We believe she will not be a betrayer of peace like Aung San Suu Kyi although both of them have a number of similarities. A number of people in the country have voiced demand for Nobel Peace prize for Sheikh Hasina; others like Dr. Yunus must speak up because she deserves it.
The writer is a Freedom Fighter; at present the Vice Chancellor of World University of Bangladesh and a noted intellectual and columnist