A Canadian human rights group bestowed the title the “Mother of Democracy” upon BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, the party has revealed three and a half years after she received the honour.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir showed the crest and certificate of the award at a news conference at Khaleda’s office in Dhaka’s Gulshan on Tuesday, reports bdnews24.com.
“We are delighted to let you know that Canadian Human Rights International Organization [or CHRIO] has honoured… Khaleda Zia with the Mother of Democracy Award for her outstanding contribution to democracy, for her being confined to house despite illness.”
The certificate showed the group honoured her under the “confines of CHRIO’s Trillium Award the “Mother of Democracy 2018” on Jul 31 that year.
Asked why the BNP broke the news now, Mirza Fakhrul told bdnews24.com: “Because [Khaleda] was in jail for two years when the award was given. She was later hospitalised several times. Now we have informed her and you about the award as she has returned home.”
He also claimed the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka endorsed Khaleda for the award.
The high commission’s comments were not immediately available.
According to the CHRIO website, the Toronto-based group has been working on human rights since 2003. But nothing was found on Khaleda on the website.
Google search showed the website of an organisation, Peace and Justice Alliance, published a post on Dec 3, 2020 on the award bestowed upon Khaleda in 2018.
Mohammed Mominul Haque, a director of the alliance, is the executive director of CHRIO’s Asia Mission.
An investment banker, Mominul is active in the BNP’s overseas unit in Canada. On Facebook, he is known as Milon Haque and he uploaded regular posts against the Awami League government and demanding Khaleda’s freedom.
The 76-year-old former prime minister has been living in her Gulshan residence since the government granted her a suspended jail term in March 2020. She was hospitalised several times.
She had served 25 months out of 17 years of prison sentences in two graft cases, involving Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust.
BNP leaders have been calling her the “Mother of Democracy” since she was jailed in 2018.