Author Topic: Journalist Salah Choudhury faces death  (Read 1087 times)

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Offline David Ben-Ariel

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Journalist Salah Choudhury faces death
« on: October 11, 2006, 08:58:43 PM »
Muslim moderate journalist Salah Choudhury faces death
11.10.2006

Here is a nightmare adventure as bad as anything cooked up in television dramas, and it is all true. Without our help, a very good man may die.

Speaking out against radical Islamism and advocating dialogue and diplomatic relations with Israel are apparently "crimes" punishable by death in Bangladesh. Fearless journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is on trial for sedition, a capital offence, because of those stands. His trial begins October 12. That is hardly the worst part of his story.

Salah was one of the first to warn about the rise of Islamist radicalism in Bangladesh, explaining how it was carefully incubated in Madrassahs and encouraged by corrupt authorities. The world was surprised when bombs began going off all over Dhakka some time later, but Salah was not surprised at all.

When the US pressed Bangladesh to recognize Israel, Salah supported the move through his newspapers. He established contact with an Israeli dialogue group, IFLAC, and attempted to come to Israel to talk about encouraging dialogue through the media. He was arrested at the airport in November, 2003 as he was about to board a flight for Israel. He began living a Kafkaeseque nightmare that has continued for three years. Salah wrote several letters from jail describing the conditions and his failing health. He was charged with sedition, and with a passport offence for attempted travel to Israel. The Arab world press generated outrageous rumors insisting that Salah was an agent of the Israeli Mossad intelligence organization. Pressure from US officials and the House of Rrepresentatives ultimately obtained his release on bail after he had served much longer jail time than the passport offence penalty would have required.

Salah was convinced that the sedition charges would be dropped, but that was not to be. The case has dragged on and on as the government sought to fabricate a case for sedition. The office of his newspaper was recently bombed and Salah was badly beaten by a mob. It seems that getting beaten up and having your office trashed is also against the law in Bangladesh. Salah now faces an addition "trial" for that "offence." ...  (Omitted text at http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000262.html )

If we do not find a way to help him, Salah may be convicted of treason and executed, or killed by the mob. In the best case, his life and health would be ruined by a long jail sentence and a slanderous and violent campaign...

Please write or phone elected representatives, Bangladesh government officials and human rights groups. Frankly, letters from Israel to Bangladesh authorities may harm his case.

An article by Bret Stephens that describes Salah's ordeal is at http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000262.html 

Letters to Bangladesh authorities should be polite and not abusive and should emphasize the harm that this case is doing to the good image of Bangladesh in your country and the need to pursue justice.

Sample letter (with additional contact information in the addresses)

Ms. Khaleda Zia,
Prime Minister,
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh,
PM's Office,
Old Sangshad Bhaban,
Tejgaon,
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fax: 880-2-8113244

Mr. Md. Lutfozzaman Babar,
State Minister,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh,
Bangladesh Secretariat,
Topkhana Road,
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Fax: 880-2-7171611

Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury
Embassy of Bangladesh
3510 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone : (202) - 244 - 0183.
Emergency number during evening hours: 202-244-4727
Fax: (202) - 244 - 7830/2771
Email : [email protected]


Your excellencies,
I am gravely distressed to learn of the trial of award winning journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury for sedition and other false charges. Mr. Choudhury has done nothing more than pursue his job as a journalist and his duty as a citizen. In addition to legal procedings, he has been beaten and robbed and denied police protection. I request your urgent intervention to stop this nightmare travesty of justice, which is ruining the image of Bangladesh around the world.


Additional contact information for Bangladesh officials:
Bangladesh Consulate, New York, Fax: 212-682-9211 Email: [email protected]

Another contact at the embassy whose cell number is available online is:

Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Counsellor-1 (Pol.),
Embassy of Bangladesh, Washington DC.
Tel: 202-244-4616 (W) 718-938-1271 (cell)

Letters to elected officials in your country and human rights groups should explain the case and ask for action to protect Mr. Choudhury.

Sample letter:

Dear XXX,
This is to request your urgent intervention to save the life of award-winning Bangladesh journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Chourhury. He has lived a three year nightmare of jailings, and beatings since he tried to travel to Israel in November 2003, and is now being tried for sedition and other false charges that are capital offences because of his outspoken stands against Islamist extremism.

His case has been the subject of editorials in the New York Times and Wall Street journal. A previous appeal by the US Congress helped bring him a reprieve, but the Bangladesh government has continued to prosecute his case. Without your help, Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury may die.

US Senators: Go to www.senate.gov
Click on "find your senators" in the top right corner.

US Congresspersons: Go to www.house.gov
Enter your zip code near the top in "find your representative"

Human rights groups
Amnesty International
http://web.amnesty.org/contacts/app.nsf/contact+us?readform&language=eng&presence=international+secretariat

Human Rights Watch:
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor New York, NY 10118-3299 USA Tel: 1-(212) 290-4700,
Fax: 1-(212) 736-1300 [email protected]
OR
1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500 Washington, DC 20009 USA Tel:1-(202) 612-4321, Fax:1-(202) 612-4333 [email protected]

PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES AROUND THE WORLD AND ASK THEM TO ACT

Ami Isseroff