In his own words:
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s Day in Court
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Dhaka, Bangladesh—When I started from my house for attending today’s [March 12, 2008] court, I knew with all my heart that millions of my friends, supporters, brothers and sisters around the world are kindly praying for me.
US Embassy in Dhaka sent an observer to the court, while a Political Officer [diplomat] from the European Union also kindly attended the court. Both the observers very kindly arrived at the court premises by 11:00 am as I suggested earlier. Anyway, I had to be in the court from 9:00 am along with my lawyers, Advocate Samarendra Nath Goswami, Advocate Govinda Chandra Pramanik, Advocate Shubash Saha and Advocate Afsana. The judge did not sit right on time at 9:00 am. Rather he came to the court at 12:00 noon and my case was this time put at the top of the list. The judge was very much willing to begin hearing witnesses while the Public Prosecutor told the court that none of the witnesses came to the court to give witnesses. At this stage, the judge Mr. Azizul Huq fixed April 15, 2008 as the next date to hear the witness and instructed the prosecution side to send notice to the witnesses to be present.
When I came out of the court, I was asked by a local reporter as to why the witnesses are not coming while the government is not dropping the charge. My reply was, the government wants to appease the Islamists, so they are not going to drop the charges. On the other hand, the reason behind absence of the witnesses are:
In the charge sheet and the charge, it is clearly mentioned that, I wrote an article titled ‘Hello Tel Aviv’, which was published in USA Today in 2003. There are numerous quotes from that article, and the Investigating Authority and the court are convinced that there are ingredients of treason in that article. But the fact is, I NEVER EVER WROTE ANY SUCH ARTICLE SO THERE IS NO QUESTION OF IT BEING PUBLISHED IN USA TODAY. This is a completely baseless allegation brought by the prosecution. The government is well aware of non availability of any evidence against such allegation.
In the CHARGE, the trial court observed that government agents recovered a copy of speech; I was carrying to Israel for the conference. The judge said, in that speech, I have forecasted about existence of Jihadist training camps within Madrassas. In the drafted speech, I also mentioned about existence of Islamist militancy groups in Bangladesh. NOW FIRST OF ALL, THAT SPEECH WAS NOT DELIVERED OR PUBLISHED, SO THERE IS NO QUESTION OF BRINGING ANY ALLEGATION ON AN UNDELIVERED SPEECH. SECONDLY EXISTENCE OF ISLAMIST MILLITANCY GROUP IN BANGLADESH AND JIHADIST TRAINING IN MADRASSAS ARE ALREADY PROVEN FACT.
So how the government or the prosecution shall be able to prove the allegation of sedition, treason and blasphemy against me? Now, they have opted for harassing me mentally and financially. This is their clear intention.
May I humbly request you all to please consider the following actions:
Chief of Bangladesh Army, General Moeen U Ahmed is scheduled to visit United States in May this year. He is intending to meet US policymakers. Prior to his trip, trend of international press on situation in Bangladesh shall be closely monitored by the relevant section in Army. Human Rights violation is a major issue. If any of the newspapers, blogs, web portals, news services, online newspapers will highlight my issue in next several weeks, it will certainly leave a strong signal with the Bangladeshi interim government and its ultimate driving force in immediately dropping the false charges.
Letters from world policymakers, Senators, MPs, Congressmen, Human Rights groups, lawyers, public representatives, celebrities, Nobel laureates, editors, journalists, business leaders, religious leaders, interfaith groups etc., etc shall also leave a great positive impact. Each of such letters may kindly be made available with the Bangladeshi press.
In most of the letters, it may kindly be mentioned that I received Freedom to Write Award in 2005 from PEN USA; Moral Courage Award in 2006 from American Jewish Committee, Key to Englewood City in 2007 from Esteemed Mayor Michael Wildes and Monaco Media Award in 2007 from Prince Albert of Monaco.
My profound gratitude to you all and especially to Hudson Institute [for helping me financially], Mr. Leslie Sacks [for putting advertisements with Blitz], PEN USA, Prince Albert of Monaco and everyone else who kindly bought my book, Injustice & Jihad. Of course, very special thanks to my brother Dr. Richard L Benkin and my beautiful Jewish family in Illinois.
MEANWHILE, PLEASE LOOK INTO THE ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ISSUED BY US STATE DEPARTMENT.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor & publisher of The Weekly Blitz. He is a journalist, columnist, author and Peace activist. He is the recipient of PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005, Recipient of American Jewish Committee Moral Courage Award 2006.