March 13, 2008

The Salah uddin Shoaib Choudhury Saga - Another PR Disaster for Bangladesh Government

We got more information on the Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury's farcical trial. On September 18, 2006 a controversial judge had ordered him to stand trial for sedition, a capital offense. He is a free man but this saga is being dragged on and on.

Salah Uddin writes about his latest hearing where the hearing was postponed to a later date because no witness was 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."
Although Mr. Shoaib Choudhury's past is somewhat dubious (his ties with the Islamists and business clashes with them) and his lobbyists are questionable , it is evident that the case against him was done to nail him rather than asking for justice. There are no concrete evidence, witnesses. Whatever one's opinion is he/she should have freedom of speech to express it; that is the fundamental rights given by our constitution.

So I hope the government takes care of this PR disaster before this turns more nasty in the eyes of the world.


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