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Sajeeb Wazed

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Sajeeb Wazed
Obama Hasina UNGA.jpg
Wazed, seen third from left, with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York, September 2013
Born (1971-07-27) July 27, 1971 (age 45)
Dhaka, East Pakistan
Education BSc (Computer Engineering)
MA (Public Administration)
Alma mater Bangalore University
The University of Texas at Arlington
Harvard University
Spouse(s) Kristine Wazed
Children Sophia Rehana Wazed
Parent(s) Dr M A Wazed Miah
Sheikh Hasina
Relatives Saima Wazed Putul (Sister)

Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed[1] (Bengali: সজীব ওয়াজেদ; born July 27, 1971), also known as Sajeeb Wazed Joy, is a Bangladeshi businessman and politician.[2] He is a member of the Awami League and serves as advisor to the Government of Bangladesh on information and communication technology.[3] Wazed divides his time between Washington DC and Dhaka.

Wazed is the son of the Bangladeshi nuclear scientist M A Wazed Miah and the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. His maternal grandfather is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh. Wazed attended boarding school in India and studied computer science at the University of Texas, Arlington and public administration at Harvard University. He is the President of the US-based firm Wazed Consulting Inc, the source of income of which is unclear. Wazed is regarded as the mastermind of the Digital Bangladesh initiative and promoting the Vision 2021 manifesto of the Awami League. Wazed was listed by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders.[4] Wazed is also a lobbyist and columnist on behalf of the Bangladeshi government.

Wazed has pledged to transform Bangladesh's IT industry into the country's largest export sector, but critics say he has achieved little towards that end. Wazed has faced criticism for increasing authoritarianism under the ruling Awami League administration in Bangladesh, including personal accusations against him of corruption and complacency in the alleged torture of Bangladeshi journalists jailed for being critical of the government. He has accused the Editor of the The Daily Star, the country's largest circulated English daily, of sedition; and a pro-opposition journalist of attempted murder.[5][6][7][8] Wazed has also had conflicts with Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and refused to publicly denounce Islamic extremists for the murder of Bangladeshi atheists, in order to avoid alienating the country's conservative clergy, despite professing himself as a secularist.

Personal life

Wazed was born in wartime Dhaka during the Bangladesh Liberation War on 27 July 1971. His parents were nuclear scientist Dr. M. A. Wazed Miah and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the daughter of nationalist leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His birth during the war and subsequent victory of Bangladesh lead to him being nicknamed by his grandfather as Joy (meaning "Victory" in Bengali). In August 1975, his grandparents and uncles were assassinated during a military coup in Bangladesh; he and his mother, father and aunt survived as they were visiting West Germany. The family was barred by the military regime from entering the country until 1981. After returning to Bangladesh in 1981, his mother assumed the presidency of the Awami League and spearheaded the campaign for the restoration of democracy, along with her arch-rival Khaleda Zia. Wazed attended boarding school in India, including St. Joseph’s College in Nainital and Kodaikanal International School in Palani Hills, Tamil Nadu. He studied computer science at the University of Bangalore; then transferred to The University of Texas at Arlington in the United States, where he graduated with a B.Sc. in computer engineering. Subsequently, Wazed attended the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University, where he completed his Masters in Public Administration.[9]

Wazed was settled in the United States for over two decades. He married Kristine Ann Overmire on October 26, 2002. They have a daughter named Sophia. Their house is located in Falls Church, Virginia.[10] Since 2009, Wazed has divided his time between Bangladesh and the United States.

Public life

Wazed first appeared on the Bangladeshi political scene in 2004, when he made a widely publicized visit to Bangladesh. On 25 February 2009, Wazed officially joined the Awami League as a primary member of the Rangpur district unit of the party. Rangpur is the ancestral home district of his father Wazed Miah and his potential parliamentary constituency.[11]

After the Awami League returned to power in 2009 with Sheikh Hasina as Prime Minister for a second time, he made his first public statements after the BDR Mutiny, praising his mother's handling of the crisis. "This is probably the biggest incident Bangladesh has had since 1975 and our government and the prime minister has handled this compassionately, pragmatically but decisively to bring the situation under control" he said in an interview to the BBC.[12]

Wazed has been active in promoting the Digital Bangladesh scheme of the Government of Bangladesh.[13][14]

Business

According to Fairfax County public records, Wazed is the president of Wazed Consulting Inc.[15]

Controversies

Corruption Allegations

In 2010, the pro-Bangladesh Nationalist Party newspaper, Amar Desh leaked documents claiming Wazed took $2 million from Chevron in exchange for allowing the multinational energy corporation to install a gas compressor.[16][17] In response to these corruption allegations against Wazed and the current Awami League administration, the government ordered for Amar Desh to suspend publication and arrested its acting editor, Mahmudur Rahman, on fraud charges.[18] Several human rights organizations condemned the government's actions, including Reporters without Borders, the International Press Institute and the Committee to Protect Journalists, reporting that the government may have tortured Rahman.[19][20][21]

In April 2016, an exclusive report by David Bergman in the Indian website The Wire revealed that a "Suspicious Activity Report" (SAR) covering a transaction of US$ 300 million recorded in a memo of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was linked to Wazed.[5]

Bangladeshi opposition leader Khaleda Zia called for the allegations against Wazed to be investigated. Wazed responded that Zia was "a liar and thief", adding "I am not that rich". [22]

Muhammad Yunus

In 2011, Wazed attacked Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus for his leadership of Grameen Bank, claiming high levels of "fraud and impropriety" in the use of Norwegian government funds at the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization.[23] The government of Norway has since dismissed the claims.[24]

Attacks on atheists

In 2015, Wazed defended the Awami League government's refusal to publicly condemn the murder of bloggers and publishers by Islamic extremists. He opined that the government was walking a fine line to avoid alienating the country's deeply conservative clergy.[25] His comments were described by Nick Cohen in the The Guardian as "pathetic";[26] while Trisha Ahmed, the stepdaughter of slain Avijit Roy, responded that "Bangladesh is powerless; it's corrupt, there is no law and order, and I highly doubt that any justice will come to the murderers."[25]

Conflict with editors

In 2016, Wazed accused Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of the The Daily Star, of treason and demanded his imprisonment for publishing reports in 2007 on the basis of intelligence sources, accusing his mother Sheikh Hasina of corruption. The BBC has reported that the Bangladeshi government has been seeking to curtail the finances of the influential newspaper.[27]

In April 2016, Bangladesh arrested Shafik Rehman, a leading pro-Bangladesh Nationalist Party journalist on charges of attempting to kidnap and kill Wazed in the U.S. The U.S. Government has declined to comment on the issue; but declassified American government reports show that a U.S. federal court judge dismissed claims of an attempted plot to harm Wazed on the basis of a lack of evidence.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ "bdnews24.com". 
  2. ^ 2 Bangladeshis living abroad positioning selves as political heirs to their powerful mothers - The Washington Post
  3. ^ Joy appointed as honorary ICT adviser to PM, "The Daily Prothom-alo ", November 21, 2014, http://en.prothom-alo.com/bangladesh/news/56426/Joy-appointed-as-honorary-ICT-adviser-to-PM
  4. ^ "The Daily Star Web EditionVol. 5 Num 939". 
  5. ^ a b c David Bergman. "Exclusive: US Court Dismissed Claim of Plot to Injure Bangladesh PM Son". The Wire. 
  6. ^ "Senior Bangladesh editor Shafik Rehman is arrested". BBC News. 
  7. ^ "Joy wants Daily Star editor detained, tried for treason for false stories against Hasina". bdnews24.com. 
  8. ^ "Case History: Mahmudur Rahman". Front Line Defenders. 
  9. ^ Sajeeb Wazed Articles | Harvard International Review
  10. ^ The mystique of PM’s son, "bdnews24.com ", March 19, 2011, http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2011/03/19/the-mystique-of-pm%E2%80%99s-son/
  11. ^ "Joy joins politics". The Daily Star. 
  12. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Bangladesh army backs government". 
  13. ^ "Telecoms plan unveiled". The Daily Star. 
  14. ^ http://www.shuchinta.com/latest/pms-son-presents-digital-plan.html
  15. ^ "The mystique of PM's son". The Opinion Pages. 
  16. ^ http://amardeshonline.com/pages/details/2009/12/17/9860
  17. ^ http://www.bangladeshinfo.com/news/other_news_head.php?othid=52560
  18. ^ http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iRJxkfZ6cFsS3wuAf5nSFgllJ_3Q
  19. ^ "Opposition daily closed, force used to arrest editor". RSF. 
  20. ^ http://www.freemedia.at/regions/asia-australasia/singleview/4989/
  21. ^ "In Bangladesh, newspaper shut down, editor arrested". 
  22. ^ http://www.dhakatribune.com/politics/2016/may/03/joy-calls-khaleda-liar-and-thief
  23. ^ "Joy's 'letter' tells it all". The Daily Star. 
  24. ^ "Grameen: Norway gives all-clear to Bangladesh bank". BBC News. 
  25. ^ a b "Not believing in God is dangerous for bloggers in Bangladesh". 
  26. ^ Nick Cohen. "Islamism prevails even as we suppress free speech". the Guardian. 
  27. ^ "'Attempt to crush independent media' in Bangladesh". BBC News.