For over a decade, General Aziz Ahmed has been selling military and civilian procurement contracts and senior public posts while protecting his fugitive brothers, Haris and Anis Ahmed, who was convicted for the murder of a supposed political opponent of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the two-year investigation found.
Titled “All the Prime Minister’s Men,” the investigation contains undercover footage and documents that reveal the pervasive high-level corruption afflicting Bangladesh and reaching all the way to Hasina, who first encountered the so-called “Ahmed Clan” during her turbulent time as opposition leader in the military dictatorship of 1980s Bangladesh.
Bangladesh military officers have a long history of brutal crackdowns on civilians. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the army killed 58 people in DGFI custody.
According to the Bangladesh NGO Forum for Secular Bangladesh, the army killed 53 people in custody and physically abused 7,000. In October 2002, more than 10,000 people were detained without charges in operation by Bangladesh Army, dubbed Clean Heart, including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party members and the current ruling party members.
In October 2007, RAB officers, who are mostly seconded army officers were accused in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of being implicated in the unlawful killings of at least 350 people in custody and the alleged torture of hundreds more civilians.
Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part, Parliament may by law make provision for indemnifying any person in the service of the Republic or any other person in respect of any act done by him in connection with the national liberation struggle or the maintenance or restoration of order in any area in Bangladesh or validate any sentence passed, punishment inflicted, forfeiture ordered, or other act done in any such area.
The article was originally intended to protect from prosecution those who fought in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
In 2015, a Hungary-based company secretly controlled by Haris Ahmed won a Bangladeshi public contract for the military’s bunk beds. The tender was directly addressed to the Director-General of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) – at the time, Aziz Ahmed, brother of Haris Ahmed.
Haris Ahmed became middlemen for domestic enterprises and foreign businessmen seeking public contracts in Bangladesh, using their corrupt connections to solicit bribes from their European businesses to launder the money.
Aziz Ahmed’s brothers started leading a Dhaka-based street gang that provided muscle to Hasina and her political party, the Awami League, with Haris and Anis acting as her bodyguards until they fled the country after killing a supposed political rival.
While a third brother, Josef Ahmed, spent 20 years in prison for the murder, Haris and Anis remained wanted criminals. The two have new identities, and reporters found that Anis settled in Malaysia while Haris ended up in Hungary. Both enjoy high-level political protection from Bangladesh.
Besides being Director-General of the BGB at the time, Aziz Ahmed was also accused of partisan brutality for cracking down on protesters and opposition parties alike during the run-up to the 2014 elections. Prime Minister Hasina won the 2014 elections due to brutal crackdowns on the opposition voters by Border Guard.
Aziz Ahmed was promoted to Army Chief of Staff in 2018 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, weeks after his jailed brother, Josef, was granted a presidential pardon.
Meanwhile, Aziz Ahmed’s nephew, Asif Ahmed, won election as a Dhaka councillor last year, bizarrely running on an anti-corruption platform.
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