Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was 27 years old when her father, the first prime minister of Bangladesh, was slaughtered along with most of her family in 1975. The army officers who shot them installed a military government and kicked off 15 years of coups, counter-coups, and dictatorship. Hasina, who was out of the country at the time of the massacre, has long sought justice for her family. In January, five former soldiers convicted of the murders were hanged in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, following a lengthy legal process. Six of the convicted men are still at large. At least one of them, Nur Chowdhury, lives in Canada.
Bangladesh has repeatedly requested that Canada extradite Chowdhury, whose refugee application has been rejected in this country. But Canada has so far refused, because Chowdhury has been sentenced to death in Bangladesh. Canada typically will not transfer a suspected criminal to a foreign country without a guarantee that he will not be executed. “He is a citizen of Bangladesh, and according to the rule of law, he got the death sentence,” said Hasina, in an exclusive interview with Maclean’s. “Justice should be done and the rule of law implemented, not only for my family, but for the people of Bangladesh.”
Hasina said that this dispute will not negatively affect relations between Canada and Bangladesh. Canada is an advocate for human rights, she said. She understands Ottawa’s motives. “But these killers violated human rights,” she said. “They killed women and children. So why should [Canada] keep him? If they want to keep the killers, we can send all the killers of this country to take shelter in Canada and other countries.”