March 30, 2007

The Mohiuddin deportation case

AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed was a Major in Bangladesh Army and was involved in a coup in 1975 that killed the Father of nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with 26 others, including his wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law, brother, close relatives, political associates and security men. After the coup he left for Libya as many coup participants were sent. He was also rewarded by Maj. General Ziaur Rahman being included in the foreign service and he worked as diplomat in different countries. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's killers were granted immunity through an ordinance.

When the daughter of Sheikh Mujib Sheikh Hasina became prime minister in 1996, the Indemnity Ordinance was repealed and the trial of killing had started. In 1998, a trial court ordered death sentence to Mohiuddin and 14 other army persons involved for the killings. The government could bring only four of them behind the bar. Mohiuddin is a fugitive since then.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested Mohiuddin Ahmed in March 13, 2007. According to ICE News release:
Ahmed, who first entered the United States in 1996 on a visitor's visa, had appealed a deportation order handed down by an immigration judge in 2002. Late last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied Ahmed's petition to review the case, allowing the earlier removal order to stand.
The caretaker government appears to be serious in getting Mohiuddin deported back to Bangladesh instead of another country.

However this was never going to be so smooth. Mohiuddin gave a press statement denying the fact that he was in Sheikh Mujib's house and claimed that he was only carrying his superior's orders. His son Ruben Ahmed also lobbied with US congressmen claiming:
Bangladesh is plagued by torture and political murders. Sheikh Hasina and her political party want revenge, without regard for the truth. My father is not a terrorist and is guilty of nothing except trusting in a system blinded by politics. (via Drishtipat)
Ruben has engaged in an interesting debate in

Now Mohiuddin was scheduled for deportation by a flight to Dhaka on March 28, 2007. But Drishtipat reports that his trip was canceled and held up for 7 days in the last minute.
Apparently the story was initially picked up southern California Public Radio, Mohiuddin Ahmed was interviewed from detention and several follow up stories were broadcast in different public radio systems. The message that went out was that Mohiuddin would be immediately executed once he returns to Dhaka. As a result, this case turned quite high profile, California Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Governor Schwarzenegger, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland security and possibly US president got involved.
Blogger News Network reports:
Mr.Ahmed’s family is now reportedly looking for a third country that would give him poltical asylum. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, according to Southern California Public Radio , was instrumental in securing the last minute stay of deportation of Mr.Ahmed.
Shafiur has an interesting observation on Congressman Dana.

Salam Dhaka reports:
Mohiuddin has run out of "appeals" in the court, so they had to file a "motion to reconsider". This is procedural and just a delay tactic. They raised the issue that he was not tried fairly. Department of Homeland Security will check with the State Department to make sure the trial was conducted fairly in Bangladesh. The Americans had monitored this trial from start to end and had considered this to be a fair trial. Immigration can look into it but cannot stop the deportation of someone just because a congressman made a request.
Dr. Anand Kumar writes in SAAG that:
Deportation and due punishment of Mohiuddin Ahmed might check the politics of killings in Bangladesh. It might also weaken the opponents of ‘Liberation War’ inside Bangladesh. Finally, it will also be a blow to insurgency in northeast as Mohiuddin Ahmed has been interacting with various rebel groups active there.
It remains to be seen where Mohiuddin lands but one thing is sure he will have to leave USA.

Update: Mash has a cracking post: "A terrorist hides in the United States"

Related readings from TIME magazine and Washington Post: (Thanks Asif and Mash)

* Mujib: Death of the Founder

* Coups and Chaos

* After the massacre

* The Night of Vengeance in Bangladesh

* Four Former Aides of Mujib Slain

* New York Times archives on Mujib


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